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Corporate Disclosure Lags On Safety Metrics Reporting

By Christine Torres

corporate disclosure

Global companies are collecting metrics on employee training, fatalities, and other human capital management points, but are not reporting that information publicly, according to a study released last month by the Harvard Law School Labor and Worklife Program and the Center for Safety and Health Sustainability (CSHS). Occupational safety and health is a foundational element of human capital metrics, which have potential to show how workplaces invest in their people and solidify opportunities for growth. Those metrics can be boosted in any workplace using thorough, up-to-date training, and resourceful visual communication.

According to "Corporate Disclosure of Human Capital Metrics," by Aaron Bernstein and Larry Beeferman of the Harvard Law School Pensions and Capital Stewardship Project, human capital metrics are important to global investors who know that a sustainable workforce is critical to a company’s success, both socially and economically.

“Organizations that disclose occupational safety and health data as part of their reporting practices can effectively benchmark against each other and gain feedback on improving human capital management,” said Kathy A. Seabrook, CSHS chair. “New levels of collaboration are needed to greatly reduce workplace injuries and illnesses.”

There were 2.9 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported by private industry employers in 2016, which occurred at a declined rate of 2.9 cases per 100 full-time equivalent workers, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.

Having transparency about hazards enhances awareness and allows room to more effectively improve overall safety.

What OSHA Says:

Employers that have more than 10 employees must keep a record of serious work-related injuries and illnesses (some low-risk industries are exempted). Minor injuries requiring first aid only do not need to be recorded.

  • Maintaining and Posting Records: The records using proper forms must be maintained at the worksite for at least five years. From February through April, employers must post a summary of the injuries and illnesses recorded the previous year. Also, if requested, copies of the records must be provided to current and former employees, or their representatives.
  • Electronic Submission of Records: The Injury Tracking Application (ITA) is accessible from the ITA launch page, where you can provide the Agency your 2016 OSHA Form 300A information. OSHA also published a notice of proposed rulemaking to extend the date by which certain employers are required to submit the information from their completed 2016 Form 300A electronically to Dec. 1, 2017.
  • Severe Injury Reporting: Employers must report any worker fatality within 8 hours and any amputation, loss of an eye, or hospitalization of a worker within 24 hours.

Workplace Investments

Human capital metrics have potential to show how workplaces invest in their people and solidify opportunities for growth. Health and safety involve ensuring the protection of co-workers, suppliers, employees, customers, and others who might be affected by the workplace environment.

If everyone follows the rules for health and safety, then the number of incidents should be reasonably low. Whether on purpose, by accident, malfunctions, or ignorance, safety violations need to be reported. The importance of this metric is for employers to find out where they are lacking in compliance with health and safety rules, as well as to discover solutions to help make improvements. Those metrics can help an employer determine what actions are necessary to boost workplace safety training, reinforcing policies in place.

safety data sheets

Some fail to report because they think “it’s no big deal” or do not want to break a code of silence or gain a negative reputation as a “snitch.” Employees should feel comfortable that they can confide in management about behavior that violates a workplace safety rule or otherwise results in an unsafe condition without fear of retaliation. Ask employees for input or feedback on safety-related rules and procedures. Develop a reliable method for tracking safety-related complaints and corrective action. Publish your company’s health and safety policy and ensure all workers are trained, periodically tested, and understand those policies.

Make Safety A Priority

Occupational safety and health is a crucial metric to track in any workplace. Identify hazards so they can be corrected before an accident happens. When a hazard is present, employees must be made aware of it and know what to do to address it. There are several communication requirements for specific situations as well, ranging from ladder safety to chemical hazards. Get a clear perspective on safety needs and requirements that should be followed in your workplace and make sure nothing is missed.

While initial training for employees is also required in many cases, ongoing communication is often handled with signs and labels. This visual communication can be the most effective and reliable way to provide important safety information. Many OSHA rules specifically require labels and signs for this reason.

Graphic Products has offered solutions for workplace visual communication since 1970, and we’re proud to provide the DuraLabel line of industrial sign and label printers to create custom communication on-site and on-demand. Improve your workplace recordkeeping and perform regular job hazard analyses. Keep employees in the know with bold communication. Place reminders, safety precautions, and hazard identifications using long-lasting signs and labels. Learn how to design the most visually appropriate safety signs in your facility with the free OSHA Safety Sign Best Practice Guide.

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