In his weekly business finance post, CFO Greg Taylor talks about how preventing and better managing injuries can help cut costs and protect employees ahead of a seminars to be held in Newcastle and the Hunter Valley next month.
According to Safe Work Australia in 2009/10 there were 131 170 “serious” accepted workers' compensation claims. This means someone either died or was either permanently or temporarily incapacitated. In 2010/11 the figure was 127 335 but this is preliminary and expected to rise. There were many more “less serious” claims made in both years.
The total economic cost of work-related injuries and illnesses for 2008–09 is estimated to be $60.6 billion dollars, representing 4.8 per cent of GDP for that financial year. (While I am quoting sobering statistics 192 people were killed at work in 2012.)
Recently I have been taking about keeping costs down. In tight economic times, that can be easier to do than raise revenue. Now you can’t put a price on the life or well-being of your employees. Any injury is one too many. From a finance perspective, having injured workers costs in terms of sick leave, workers compensations premiums, lost or reduced productivity, retraining as well as impacts on other staff and customers. Preventing and better managing injuries reduces these opportunity costs.
Next month Hunter Safety Alliance will hold breakfasts in Newcastle and Singleton to discuss how to best avoid and manage workplace injuries.
As well as a speaker from Workcover NSW, a multi-award winning “community advocate” will share her story and tips for employers.
Rosemary McKenzie-Ferguson suffered a workplace injury in 1994 where she broke both shoulders and sustained a compression fracture in her neck. Her brother was killed in a workplace accident in 1969.
In 1997 she established a not-for-profit association and centre for injured workers in South Australia. She also consults to and provides training to employers.
She says the current “legal medico” system should do more to help injured workers and that it short changes employers too. She urges employers to take a more hands on approach to the rehabilitation of injured workers and argues that anyone can get back to work if the right support systems are in place.
Safety is an issue every business must always be thinking about and not just from a finance perspective.
For details on the breakfasts, visit www.huntersafetyalliance.com.au.
Please share your comments or tips on reducing workers compensation costs below.
Greg Taylor is the Chief Financial Officer at The Greater. This post is based on Greg’s weekly business finance column in the Newcastle Post newspaper.