Given that the single fatality, that occurred in 1990 cost the company an increase of 7% in workers compensation insurance premiums which over the long run has been a substantial cost and individual falls have since cost the company significant time and production loss as well as other increased in premiums, related to injuries and simply as increases have occurred. Finally, the initial fatal fall cost the company a 4 million dollar benefits claim to the family of the employee and $1.7 in litigation and attorneys fees. Additionally, the settlement was mitigated by the attorneys, who managed to reduce the claim for pain and suffering significantly and calculated the remainder based on the lifetime earning potential of the individual at his current salary. It is unlikely that such mitigation would occur in every case, and the cost of a trial would be exponential if a reasonable settlement had not been made. The mitigating legal reason for the high cost of this settlement is related directly to the fact that the company, at the time of the injury had not yet instituted a formal fall protection plan and therefore showed negligence in the situation. (Leigh, 1995, p. 6) Though part of the settlement demanded that this be done, the company, at the time, chose to meet the bear minimum standards requirements, which were much less stringent then than they are today. Finally, accidents related to falls occur on average of one a month on the manufacture floor and once every two to three months in the warehouse. Though these injuries are usually relatively minor, often only resulting in a few days of absenteeism and a few medical bills, paid by workers compensation insurance, the potential for greater injury is always there and any fall can be dangerous. If bad luck and ignorance combine any fall can be fatal and any accident can impact an individual far more than a simple few days off work and a single trip to the ER. This is the proverbial "crap shoot" that this company is no longer willing to risk. (Williams & Cooper, 1999, p. 135)
The company briefly discussed reducing compensatory damages by increasing the pay of some workers, utilizing a plan that would take into consideration the compensatory needs of employees who face some risk of injury, but this plan was almost immediately scrapped, partly because the management considered it unethical, in comparison to making the workplace safer an because the job is not indicative of high risk pay and such plans are arguably not compensatory enough for a situation such as a fatality. (Roberts, Burton, & Bodah, 2005, p. 3) Finally, with regard to cost savings associated with increased safety and implemented safety programs there is some indication the workers compensation and other insurance premiums will be reduced by 0.4%-1% annually as a result of both the implemented program and the realization of a reduced accident claim rate. (Roberts, Burton, & Bodah, 2005, p. 4)
Aims and Objectives of Study
The goal of the company is a zero tolerance success rate for the elimination of falls and other injuries, as cost comparison between the costly and lengthy settlement for the single fatality (which would likely be far greater in today's economy) and the subsequent cost of other injuries has created in the company management the desire to do as much as humanly possible to prevent such incidents in the future and respond to them efficiently and rapidly when they occur to mitigate further injury. This report will constitute a demonstration of the effectiveness of the suggested resolutions offered by the safety engineer that have been adopted by the company.
Significance of the Study
The company has since decided, that falls and accidents, which have been on the increase for the last five years is no longer on the mind of employees and this new plan attempts to mitigate this and reassert the companies goal of prevention. It is hoped that this safety program will significantly reduce or eliminate falls and spills and therefore reduce the cost of injuries and increase the culture of safety and therefore the mental security of employees, which will hopefully according to the literature reduce overall injury by default. (Roberts, Burton, & Bodah, 2005, p. 101)
Summary of proposed Methodology
Research Aims and Objectives
Upon implementation of safety programs, as they have been described above the study will commence. The study will be based primarily on incident reports, both non-injury and injury related. The rapidity of resolution of incidents, such as spills, and obstructions will be looked at, as an aspect of prevention. Incidents that include injury will be statistically analyzed and finally a comparison of the number, type and frequency of all injuries will be reported and compared to pre-program incidence and injury frequency and type. The final quasi/experimental aspect of this work will be a qualitative review, via team leader led questionnaires regarding the overall culture of safety, as it is perceived by all employees. The final portion of this proposed study (the qualitative culture of safety aspect) has no comparison but will still serve as an important aspect of the review, given that literature expresses the importance of the perception of employees with regard to safety, for the purpose of reporting incidents and future incident prevention. If the climate of the workplace is one of a culture of safety employees are more likely to report incidents as well as report potential problems than if the culture of safety is absent. (Scherer, Petrick & Quinn, 1996, p. 11)
Hypothesis: Fall related injuries will be reduced in a statistically significant way over a period of 1 year, post-safety program implementation and an increased "culture of safety" will be reported by all employees.
Block, R.N., Roberts, K., & Clarke, R.O. (2003). Labor Standards in the United States and Canada. Kalamazoo, MI: W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
Department of Labor (U.S.) (2008) "Fall Protection" http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/fallprotection/index.html
Karoly, L.A., & Panis, C.W. (2004). The 21st Century at Work: Forces Shaping the Future Workforce and Workplace in the United States / . Santa Monica, CA: Rand.
Leigh, J.P. (1995). Causes of Death in the Workplace. Westport, CT: Quorum Books.
Roberts, K., Burton, J.F., & Bodah, M.M. (Eds.). (2005). Workplace Injuries and Diseases: Prevention and Compensation: Essays in Honor of Terry Thomason. Kalamazoo, MI: W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.