OHS professionals who “do their homework and speak the language of business” are more likely to attract funding and resources for relevant initiatives, according to the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland.
Although many health and safety initiatives require little or no capital expenditure, Jo Kitney, state manager – workplace health and safety for the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland, said managing workplace health and safety does require that some money is spent; either to prevent health and safety incidents and ill health, and/or to manage incidents and their impact.
Speaking at the recent Queensland Safety Show, Kitney said workplace health and safety is an important part of good business management – yet it is often seen as a cost.
“Finding money for health and safety is essential, yet it’s naïve to think employers are going to spend money on anything that is not justified,” she said.
“Every business will manage its health and safety differently; some react when accidents happen, some invest in health and safety management and some integrate health and safety management into wider business management and systems.”
One way to find money for health and safety is to establish where a return on investment would not only meet obligations, but also contribute to the wider business goals.
“Business cases are a common way to present information to management and contain data on the costs as well as the benefits of taking action. Benefits should be wider than simply meeting obligations and managing risk, and may be economic (such as preventing incidents) as well as beyond economic (such as reputation, reduced LTIFR and employee morale),” she said.
“The good news is that the basic risk assessment tool familiar to WHS practitioners provides a very sound foundation for a compelling business case for WHS investment … A business-oriented approach is needed to build a capital expenditure proposal that will resonate with managers and employers.”
Kitney advised using risk management principles that take frequency and severity into account to put a value on the risk of not undertaking the project.
“Look at it from every angle: work health and safety projects also often generate measurable savings, such as in terms of productivity,” she said.
“Putting a good business case together also involves working with anyone who may be impacted by the health and safety intervention and who may gain from its implementation. They are best placed to advise on costs as well as benefits and add credibility to the information provided to management.”