Getting a Handle on Safety Costs


Getting a Handle on Safety Costs

Investment in simple PPE can save a lot

If you’re dealing with frequent cuts and lacerations, it’s time to examine just how much they’re affecting your bottom line and the (far less expensive) steps you can take to limit their likelihood. The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists hand injuries as the second most common workplace issue for U.S. employers, right after back injuries.

Unfortunately, a seemingly simple cut can result in a much bigger problem, for the employee and for you. For starters, hand injuries can be difficult to heal because of the way our hands and fingers move and bend. But wait, there’s more! Jason Ward, VP of HR & Safety at California TrusFrame, is quick to point out that an infected cut “can quickly become an OSHA recordable if it requires antibiotic treatment.”

On the financial side, a “minor” injury requiring as little as $200 in medical care could result in a much larger burden for your company. Using a basic injury cost calculator, it’s easy to see how quickly multiple injuries add up and the revenue required to overcome these costs.

  • Direct Cost of Injury: $200
  • Indirect Cost of Injury: $800 
    (Calculation based on Direct Cost x 4 = Indirect Cost including lost time/productivity, training, accident investigation, and more.)
  • Total Cost: $1,000 (Total Cost = Direct Cost + Indirect Cost)
  • Profit Margin of Business: 10% 
  • Revenue Required to Offset Loss: $10,000

There’s Good News

“The two things we’ve done to reduce hand injuries is use gloves as part of our PPE (personal protective equipment) and we’ve switched to cord strap instead of metal banding,” says Jason. It’s estimated that 70% of workers who experience hand injuries are not wearing gloves, so making gloves readily available is an easy first step. Jason’s teams even offer new gloves whenever needed. They only require the employee to return the damaged gloves before receiving a new pair. “We’re finding it helps teach some responsibility,” Jason adds.

Beyond providing gloves, it’s also important that the gloves fit the worker and the job. Ken Shifflett, owner of QUADD Building Systems, recently started using a different type of glove made out of DuPont™ Kevlar®. “I’ve been working with DuPont on these new gloves and the nice thing is, they’re not that expensive, usually in the $8 to $14 range,” Ken explains. “I’ve had them on my floor [truss] line and my guys absolutely love them.” Ken describes the gloves as flexible but almost sticky on one side, making it easy to grip. “Overall, we’re finding the Kevlar is more durable than the cotton gloves I usually see,” Ken says.

Take the time necessary to purchase, test and stock gloves your employees find the easiest to work with, then schedule a recurring toolbox talk to remind and encourage your team to actually wear them. A few minutes of training and a reasonable investment in effective, usable hand protection can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars per injury.

About the Author: Molly Butz searches for industry best practices that can help component manufacturers grow a stronger safety culture throughout their operations.