Do Big Companies Benefit from Investing in Worker Safety? Study Suggests Most Don’t

Houston Work Injury Lawyer | The Law Office of Hilda Sibrian

You would think that the bigger the company is, the more likely it is to invest in workplace safety measures because it has more resources to take precautions and protect workers. It turns out that isn’t true, according to a recent international study published in the journal Management Science.

In the study, researchers looked at the short- and long-term survival rates for 100,000 businesses over a 25-year period and found that, in some cases, those with more worker injury claims were more than 50 percent likely to survive longer than their counterparts that had fewer claims because they had invested more in safety.

The study authors used state data on workplace injury claims to determine which employers offered a safe working environment. In particular, they looked at so-called “disabling claims,” which are cases where a worker loses at least three days of work due to an injury or is expected to have a permanent disability of some kind. Companies with more claims were deemed to have a less safe workplace.

Why Do Companies Ignore Best Safety Practices?

The findings suggest that for larger companies, it’s more cost-effective to pay the nominal fines for workplace safety violations and fight worker injury claims rather than put more resources into a safer work environment. In particular, researchers noticed the effect was strongest among larger, older companies, even though they are best positioned to provide a safer workspace for their employees.

“Organizations that do not provide a safe workplace gain an economic advantage over those that do,” said Anthony Veltri, a professor at Oregon State University who helped with the research and studies occupational safety and health. “The goal of improving the longevity of a business conflicts with the goal of protecting the workforce.”

Younger companies and start-ups are the most vulnerable to the costs that come with repeated workplace injury claims, as they have fewer resources than their more-established counterparts. However, the research seems to show that if a company can survive long enough, it is better off just paying the claims because there’s little financial incentive to invest in better workplace safety.

Suggestions for Improving Workplace Safety

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has many recommendations for employers to help improve health and safety programs in the workplace. Some of its guidelines for better safety programs include:

  • Making health and safety a core value of the company
  • Encouraging managers and other workplace veterans to lead by example
  • Creating a strong anonymous reporting system
  • Better safety training for both workers and managers, including how to report injuries and illnesses
  • Frequent safety inspections
  • Seeking input from workers on potential improvements

Have You Suffered a Work Injury? Learn About Your Legal Rights Now

If you have been hurt on the job, it is essential to speak with a knowledgeable work injury attorney as soon as possible. The Law Offices of Hilda Sibrian can help you understand your legal rights and demand the full compensation you need to recover. To get started, call us today to schedule a free case review.