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Good OSH is good for business

Benefits of OSH. Worker checking a document with statistics

In tough economic times, it’s important to remember that poor workplace safety and health costs money. What’s more, case studies show that good OSH management in a business is linked to improved performance and profitability.

Everyone from individual workers to national health systems loses out when OSH is neglected. But this means that everyone can benefit from better policies and practices.

Countries with poor workplace safety and health systems use valuable resources dealing with avoidable injuries and illnesses. A strong national strategy leads to numerous benefits, such as:

  • Improved productivity through less sickness absence
  • Cutting healthcare costs
  • Keeping older workers in employment
  • Stimulating more efficient working methods and technologies
  • Reducing the number of people who have to cut their hours to care for a family member

Costs of work-related injuries, illnesses and deaths

What are the economic impacts of both good and poor OSH management? It is vital that policy-makers, researchers and intermediaries understand the answer to this question, but to do so requires good-quality data. EU-OSHA thus aims to address this need in its two-stage overview project ‘Costs and benefits of occupational safety and health’, which aims to develop an economic costing model to establish reliable estimates of the costs.

Phase 1: large-scale study to identify and assess the available data in each Member State that can be used to develop a model for calculating costs.

Output: overview report of the availability and quality of the data (2017).

Phase 2a: produce an approximate economic costing model based on international available data sources (in collaboration with ILO, Finland and Singapore).

Output: report on the development of the approximate model (2017).

Phase 2b: development of a sophisticated economic costing model based on national data sources.

Output: report on the development of the sophisticated model (2018).

The project also includes a seminar for stakeholders to discuss the implications of the model for OSH policy and practice in 2018 and further dissemination and evaluation in 2019. A data visualisation tool and infographics will also allow easy access and evaluation of the data.

The benefits for business

Not only does poor safety and health cost companies money, but good OSH pays dividends. businesses with higher safety and health standards are more successful and more sustainable.

Studies estimate that for every euro invested in OSH, there is a return of 2.2 euros and that the cost–benefit ratio of improving safety and health is favourable.

The economic advantages of good OSH for businesses large and small are significant. To give just a few examples, good workplace safety and health:

  • Improves workers’ productivity
  • Cuts down on absenteeism
  • Reduces compensation payments
  • Meets the requirements of public and private sector contractors

Taking action could bring significant benefits to your business. Find out more about implementing improvements and managing risks here.

Economic incentives

Across Europe, schemes have been put in place to reward organisations financially for having safe and healthy workplaces. These include:

  • Lower insurance premiums
  • Tax breaks
  • State subsidies and grants

One example is the German butchery sector. Participating companies had their premiums reduced if they promoted safety, for example by buying safety knives or giving safety training to drivers.

The scheme resulted in:

  • 1 000 fewer reportable accidents per year for the sector in Germany
  • A reduction in costs valued at 40 million euros in six years
  • A saving of 4.81 euros for every euro invested

For insurers, offering such schemes can help to reduce the number, severity and cost of claims.

Find out more about economic incentives and how they can be introduced:

Additional resources: 
Business benefits of health and safety
Economic incentives for investing in health and safety