The popular board game Risk is a multi-player contest built around conflict and confrontation. In manufacturing, the phrase “risk management” is used to assess the costs and benefit associated with any activity.
When it comes to worker safety, though, there is no management of risk because when it comes to protecting workers, there is no acceptable level of risk. If this were a game, the score always would be 0-0—no injuries or lost time for workers, no workers compensation costs for management.
But safety is not a game. That’s because history shows us that we never completely can win. What we can do, and what industry experts from around the country show us in this issue of Plant Engineering devoted to workplace safety, is that we have to understand why workplace accidents occur.
We have some of the nation’s safest companies represented in this issue. They are industry suppliers of safety products and strategies and they are safe manufacturers. They understand the cost of an unsafe workplace not just because it earns them profits in sales, but also because those profits are not depleted by the costs of injuries in the workplace.
However, the manufacturers achieving safety each day do so not with a commitment to cost containment or risk management but with a relentless commitment to their workers. It is the human aspect of worker safety that is the most critical. Ultimately, as our contributors this month point out repeatedly, the profit is a byproduct of safety. When workers understand they are valued as contributors to profit, those workers will deliver better productivity, miss fewer days of work, and will take an uncommon pride in their job.
Plant Engineering regards safety as a core principle of manufacturing, as an absolute and unwavering right of our workers. It also is the foundation on which manufacturers can build a strong organization and a quality product, no matter the industry.
Safety is not a game. That doesn’t mean you won’t feel like a winner if you lead your organization on a better path to safety.
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