As a safety manager, your role is to keep employees safe and healthy in such a way that maintains or even improves site productivity and efficiency. However, you only have a limited amount of resources with which to accomplish this.

But you know what’s even more expensive than safety equipment? Injuries.

An injury requires immediate attention and, depending on the severity, shuts down the line until OSHA arrives to conduct a thorough investigation (or you conduct your own). It requires addressing the cost of treatments, potential lost time of an experienced worker, training for a replacement, overtime, slower productivity, and a short-term impact on employees working in that area.

All of these costs are directly from the bottom line, not your safety budget. These are costs that can impact profit-sharing bonuses, stock prices, company reputation, and so much more. According to current workers' compensation figures, one amputation costs the business more than $200,000. And that’s just one type of injury.

Fortunately, there are ways to both protect your budget and your workers. In this post, we’ll explore some options drawn from our experience helping customers like you. We’ve sorted these tips into different categories:

  • Maximizing your spend
  • Reducing budgeted expenses
  • Reducing unbudgeted expenses

Let’s get started!


Maximizing your spend

The key to budget-conscious safety isn’t controlling how much you spend, but what you spend it on. Sometimes the lower-priced options are the ones that will cost you the most in the long run.

Here’s what we recommend you spend on:

Preventive maintenance

Preventive maintenance is a tremendously beneficial investment, as it improves both worker safety and production efficiency. Unexpected failure incidents can significantly impact production numbers, and are slow to recover from as teams put out fires–figuratively and literally.

For it to be practical, preventive maintenance requires you to coordinate schedules with the maintenance and operations departments. You need to take into account cost of downtime, employee scheduling, and parts costs when calculating the financial impact of such an activity.

Investing in high-quality PPE

Budget pressures can sometimes trick you into buying materials or safety gear based only on price point, instead of on quality or performance. But when the part or PPE doesn’t measure up, then that “affordable” solution suddenly becomes very expensive—in terms of money, employee health, and your performance rating.

We’re not talking about breaking the bank for PPE with the highest cut ratings. We want you to invest in PPE with ratings appropriate to the hazards your workers face–not “passable” PPE that provides minor protection.

Don’t fall into the trap of switching PPE on a whim, either. Constantly changing PPE in favor of the next new thing will drive up your expenses and clutter up your inventory. All of these “flavor of the month” PPE have a shelf-life and will eventually be discarded. All that money spent for no benefit whatsoever.

Reduce your budgeted expenses

The following tips can help you stretch your budget more and reduce your overall safety spend:

Look for discounts

There are many opportunities to get a lower price for effective safety equipment. Suppliers or distributors will sometimes offer customers volume discounts for large or long-term purchases.

Discuss premium discounts with your workers’ comp carrier for enhancing safety culture and having an effective safety program in place. You can also approach them for assistance in risk monitoring, such as IH sampling at no or nominal cost.

Track PPE use

Manage and monitor PPE inventory through the use of vending machines or sign-up processes. This will help control waste from frivolous PPE use and keep inventory purchasing under control.

Get a second opinion

You can’t make assumptions where safety is concerned. Even if you feel you have a solid grasp of your site’s safety hazards and the measures being taken, get a third party to come in and make their own assessment.

For example, Mechanix Wear has a free TRACK Assessment program where our safety experts do a walk-around of your facility and assess risks, evaluate current PPE effectiveness and cost of ownership, and provide free samples of recommended products.

Reduce unbudgeted expenses

“Unbudgeted expenses” in this context are surprise costs that result from a serious safety incident. Things like medical costs, repairs, and opportunity cost. These costs might not impact your budget directly (hence “unbudgeted”), but they will reflect on your performance and may impact how much budget you have to work with in the future.

Here are some ways to prevent or at least minimize incident-related costs.

Get employees involved in safety

No safety manager can catch everything. You can’t be everywhere at once, nor are you an expert on every task in the facility.

Enlist the help of employees. Encourage them to participate in identifying hazards and let them offer solutions. Take their feedback seriously—they’re the ones that know it best, after all—and act on their recommendations as much as you can. Once they see that you and the company will actually listen to what they have to say, they’ll be encouraged to cooperate even more.

Have employees conduct pre-shift workplace examinations to look for, find, correct, and report hazards in their immediate work area. This also applies to inspecting equipment for safety defects and equipment operation issues, including tagging out equipment when necessary.

Encourage employees that work in teams to conduct a 3-5 minute “task review” prior to starting work. This ensures everyone understands their roles, the right tools and equipment are ready to go, and the right task procedures have been reviewed and will be followed.

Review current maintenance practices

Conduct an audit of your current maintenance practices to ensure all the necessary work is getting done.

Collect all the information on work orders done for the past year or so, and count unplanned maintenance jobs from planned/preventative jobs. Review all unplanned work orders for problems or trends. If the team is doing a high number of unplanned tasks, it could be a sign that things aren’t being maintained as well as they should be. This is dangerous and could lead to critical failures and employee injury.

Thoroughly investigate safety incidents

If an injury does occur, conduct an effective incident investigation. Identify root causes and address them as soon as possible.

How can Mechanix Wear help?

Mechanix Wear is a PPE manufacturer that is ready and willing to help employers keep their teams safe. Our TRACK program offers numerous benefits and should be on every employer’s active checklist as a resource for improving safety within its facilities.

The TRACK program includes:

  • Assistance with hazard risk assessments within your facility
  • Recommendations of PPE that addresses and is compatible with identified hazards
  • PPE trials that engage front-line employees to find solutions specific to the recommendations
  • Ongoing support to ensure your safety success
  • Improved compliance and employee comfort with the proper PPE
  • Enhanced employee engagement and participation in safety solutions
  • Improved control over PPE budget as only the right, tested PPE is identified for purchase
  • Improved buy-in and use of the PPE by your employees

Your PPE risk assessment is required by OSHA and other regulatory agencies to ensure that as an employer, you have identified and have corrective actions in place that ensure a workplace free of recognized hazards.

This assessment is not a one-and-done, but must be reviewed at least annually and updated whenever new equipment is introduced, procedures change, or newly assigned employees must be trained on the hazards associated with their tasks.