Inappropriate short cuts cost

  • Published
  • By Kevin M. Greene
  • 79th Medical Wing Chief of Safety
We've been getting injury prevention advice for years. So much so, that some don't give it much thought anymore.  It may be because societal influences continue to bombard us with what we consider to be desired social norms or it may be because social media has inundated us with "hey watch this" videos. 

But how often have we seen someone taking short cuts or not following prescribed guidance in order to save time? Think about your answer to that question ... now think about this, did they actually save time, money, or resources while getting the job done correctly? Based on my experiences and investigations - probably not!

When someone tries to inappropriately "take short cuts" I believe that there are three measurable effects are in play here -- economics', trust and personal injury cost. The Economic cost includes, cost for materials, supplies, lost time and injury compensation. Trust equates to the cost of trusting the person to do it right the next time.  Personal injury cost is the physical/human cost of pain, grief, and suffering.

The first order of effects is probably the most tangible-economics. According to the National Safety Council, the average cost of nondisabling injuries is around $9,300 while the economic cost of a disabling injury rises to almost $81,000 per incident.  Now include the cost of lost time, lost wages, lost production along with the cost to replacing broken or damaged equipment or supplies and you have a financial mess on your hands. These costs are not just related to the injured, they are also imposed on the family, fellow workers, and employer as well leaving them with the burden of caring for you, working your shifts, and paying workman compensation costs.

The next order of effects when speed is considered over safety is the trust factor.  As mentioned earlier, trust equates to the cost of trusting the person to do it right the next time. This includes time factors such as workers trust in the organizations management, redundancy, overtaxing guidance along with coworkers distrust and even fraud. The safety climate of a workplace can easily be affected by many factors and trust is key. Trust is often earned and not given, to lose the trust of coworkers by causing a injury or accident on the job due to carelessness or purposely skipping procedures in the name of speed, equates to lost production for the company and can tap into the bottom-line when management has to stop or slow the work rate in order to "reteach" the safe-way of doing business. Cost of credibility also suffers when one 'cuts corners' in the attempt to get the job done quicker. Distrust can spread through the work place like a virus. One of the best ways to keep the trust factor on the positive side is to take the time to do the task correctly the first time, every time.

The final order of effect that I feel is important is the Personal Injury cost.  Here is where the lawyers come in.  No matter how you get injured, pain and suffering is usually involved.  OSHA laws states that everyone has the right to a safe and healthful work environment that includes, what I call, "the employees duty of care" responsibility.  Each of us play an active role in preventing by doing the task safety using prescribed guidance, without cutting corners for the sake of time. Injuries are a negative cost of doing business.  It costs to replace a worker, it costs time and money to heal, and it costs mental and physical anguish while one goes through the healing process - And consider this, your short cut may not cost you - it could cost a fellow worker his or her life. 

Many studies from prominent research organizations and industry professionals over the years have conducted analytical studies that show a strong relationship between speed, cutting corners, and needless injuries. I ask that each of you every now and then, take the time to slow down and think about the speed of safety.