September 15, 2023 | by M. Robert Weidner, III

Safety Always Matters

“Safety is not a gadget, but a state of mind.” – Safety expert Eleanor Everet

“If only.”

We have all gotten that call in our lives: someone we love has been injured (or worse) because of an incident that could have been prevented. It is heart-wrenching. We say to ourselves, “If only” someone had thought to do something different, better, or more.

At MSCI, we are dedicated to heeding Benjamin Franklin’s advice that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” and to helping our member companies build a “safety always” culture.

Here’s why.

Safety Matters Beyond the Workplace

According to the National Safety Council, in the United States in 2021, there were 4,472 preventable workplace deaths and 4.26 million preventable workplace injuries across all industries. That is 12 deaths and nearly 11,700 injuries daily.

I find those numbers staggering even more so because each tragedy not only impacts an employee, their colleagues, and their company — it affects a family.

Work injuries exact a huge toll on loved ones. A study published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine and cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, found family members of severely injured workers experience a 15 percent increase in total musculoskeletal disorder outpatient claims and a 34 percent increase in the mean cost of these claims compared to family members of non-severely injured workers. Why are family members more likely to suffer their own injuries? Because they care for injured workers — they help them get out of bed, into the shower, and down the stairs — and sometimes the literal weight of that work is too much.

Workplace injuries also are associated with higher divorce rates and substance abuse issues. (If you have not seen Netflix’s Painkiller or Hulu’s Dopesick, these films illustrate the connection between workplace injuries and substance abuse.)

Because we at MSCI understand these familial costs, the theme of our 2023 Safety Conference, set for Oct. 18-19, is “Safer for Us.” “Us” meaning our entire industrial metals community, from the shop floor worker to that employee’s spouse and children at home.

Our conference will feature sessions with several industrial metals safety leaders who will address common safety concerns in the industry and explain how our members can solve for these concerns in their “safety always” cultures. We also will be joined by safety consultant Dr. Timothy Ludwig, the author of scholarly research that documents the successes of methods to improve safety and quality through behavior-based solutions.

Can’t Improve If You Don’t Measure

The team at MSCI can tell you I love a good dashboard. As Peter Drucker said, “What’s measured improves.” Benchmarks tell us whether what we are doing is working and they instill a sense of collective accountability.

MSCI will soon launch a new and improved Safety Survey that will examine the industrial metals industry’s progress towards safer operations. Open to both service centers and mills, our Safety Survey will provide companies with a metals specific benchmark to guide their safety efforts.

Like metrics, competition also can inspire creativity and push for progress.

During our 2023 Safety Conference, MSCI will unveil the winners of our 2022 Safety Culture and Improvement Awards. These awards recognize metals organizations that seek innovative approaches in their efforts to drive safety improvement towards a zero-harm environment. Our hope is that these awards will inspire innovative thinking throughout our community.

Supporting a Continuous Learning Environment

Training also is a pillar of a “safety always” culture, which is why MSCI supports an environment of continuous safety learning. We have partnered with Amerisafe Group to deliver a live online metals Metal Safety Workshop Series that will develop middle to upper managers and front-line supervisors into safety leaders. Contact Monique Combs to discuss a custom program. We also regularly offer affordable courses like our OSHA Recordkeeping Workshop, which is scheduled for January 2024.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a “safety always” culture is marked by several characteristics, including:

  • Acknowledgment of the high-risk nature of an organization’s activities;
  • Strong support from leadership;
  • Determination to achieve consistently safe operations;
  • Responsibility by everyone for safety implementation and reporting unsafe conditions;
  • A blame-free environment for individual reporting;
  • Encouragement of collaboration about decision-making across all staff; and
  • Commitment of resources to address safety concerns.

At MSCI we like to say a “safety always” culture starts by leaders making a commitment to building the right mindsets, processes, and systems to ensure workplace safety today and it continues by committing to the constant innovation and communication about best practices that is necessary to ensure a safe work environment in the future. It also requires the engagement, persistence, and ingenuity of everyone within the organization, from the person tasked with keeping tools and machinery functioning to the top-ranked safety official.

A company’s employees are its greatest asset, but in addition to having enormous benefits for your employees and their families, a “safety always” culture improves your bottom line. According to EcoOnline, a firm that provides digital safety solutions, ensuring the safety of all employees reduces absenteeism, lowers salary costs, improves worker happiness, and reduces turnover.

There are no better business reasons than those to engage with MSCI to build and strengthen your “safety always” cultures.

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