Safety First in the Workplace

A manufacturing facility is only as productive as its workforce, and a workforce can only produce at its highest level when it maintains a vigilant focus on health and safety.

Some statistics, on the surface, are troubling. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there were approximately 2.9 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported by private industry employers in 2015. That’s a rate of three cases for every 100 full-time workers. The current trend, however, is promising: the bureau reports that the rate of reported nonfatal injuries and illnesses has declined steadily over the last 13 years.

Thermo Fisher’s manufacturing facility in Lenexa, Kan., is an example of progress in workplace health and safety. The facility hit a milestone in 2016, compiling 4.5 million hours worked without an injury among its employees. As part of a focus on ergonomic awareness and health, the Lenexa employees have incorporated stretching into the workday routine, including at the start of each shift. The Lenexa facility is one of 23 Thermo Fisher sites that recorded at least one million hours worked without an injury last year. 

Thermo Fisher is one of many companies in a variety of industries focused on workplace injury prevention, and quite a few have been recognized for their commitment to workplace injury prevention. For example, last October, the National Maintenance Agreements Policy Committee presented its top Zero Injury Safety Award to the ExxonMobil Joliet (Ill.) Refinery, which reached nearly 1.3 million injury-free work hours in 2015. The Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, International, presents annual safety awards to recognize companies with no recordable injuries or illnesses in a given year – just one example of the type of industry-specific honors focused on workplace health and safety.

It’s clear that a workplace emphasis on safety pays dividends. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), a component of the U.S. Department of Labor, notes that businesses spend $170 billion annually on costs associated with occupational injuries and illnesses, but that safety and health management systems can lead to a decrease in those costs by 20 to 40 percent. More importantly, effective programs have saved 75,000 lives since 1970, OSHA says.

To learn more about workplace safety and health in the United States, visit www.osha.gov.