Industrial hygiene is seldom viewed through the prism of economic advantages, while only a few enterprises seem to look into costs related to this subject. Nevertheless, it is known that improved working conditions are one of the key methods that can help to improve such economic performance indicators as a period of return on investment, optimum investment outlays, and costs and benefits of programs. Thereafter, the objective of the following paper is to summarize the article that speaks about the economic benefits of occupational safety in Poland, as well as provides specific examples of how this approach can be used within any organization.
The issue of occupational safety and health (OSH) is present within almost every enterprise. Once it has been implemented, companies do not conduct the evaluation of the economic component related to this type of investment. In the article “Cost and Benefits of Implementing an Occupational Safety and Health Management System (OSH MS) in Enterprises in Poland” Jan Rzepecki (2012) has made an attempt to look into the occupational safety and health assessing outcomes of this method used within twenty enterprises and leading to significant economic benefits.
According to Rzepecki (2012), it has been proven that there are multiple benefits from the implementation of the OSH MS within an enterprise, but there is also an additional cost associated with that. In his article, Rzepecki (2012) speaks about the method carried out in 2005-2007 and specially developed in order to assess and measure the economic benefits of OSH MS implementation within enterprises. It involves the use of a questionnaire and has five major sections that cover the cost related to the implementation of occupational safety, law requirements, working conditions, and management systems. The questionnaire has covered 37,000 people within twenty enterprises in various industrial sectors and has revealed that in general, the number of accidents and economic-related costs has decreased. In addition to that, Rzepecki (2012) speaks about costs related to having OSH management systems within enterprises, which include the bookkeeping cost that was the highest among all expenses, as well as the alternative cost that was about staff payrolls. Rzepecki (2012) highlighted that the maintenance of the OSH management system also requires certain costs. The article includes the section that discusses the benefits of the implementation and maintenance of occupational safety and industrial hygiene by the studied enterprises based on the selected loss categories, such as incident rates, absence numbers, and others. Nevertheless, one interesting point that the author of the article has found out is related to the fact that bigger enterprises (more than 650 and up to 1500 workers) spend less per person as a result of OSH system implementation and maintenance (once calculated), even having conditions (proper investments) similar to the ones at smaller enterprises. Thus, Rzepecki (2012) states that the OSH system has quantitative and qualitative benefits.
To prove the importance of occupational safety implementation, it is necessary to analyze its application in other workplaces. Thus, if an enterprise has created a safety awareness campaign, it results in considerable savings that come from lower sick leaves, reduced cost of accidents and the decreased number of product complains. In addition to that, it leads to a high return on investment rate. If a person knows how to work safely, he or she will be less likely to become injured, take no sick leave, and get better motivation feeling that the company cares about him or her.
In conclusion, this is important to mention that many enterprises may underestimate the economic benefits of implementing occupational safety programs, but they can see benefits in practice since the system leads to lower expenses per each employee and increased performance.