Warning sticker being applied to heavy machinery


Maximize the ROI on Your Safety Budget, Without Sacrificing Worker Safety

Time to read 8 Minutes
Dan Cobb
Dan Cobb
Senior Manager, Industrial Solutions

Will 2023 Be the Year of Increased Workplace Safety and Environmental Compliance?

Across the world company budgets are tightening, and frugality is back in vogue — except when it comes to safety.

A 2022 study that surveyed respondents across 31 countries and 25 industries found that safety budgets were increasing or staying the same, with very few companies reporting decreases1. These increased budgets may be driven by inflation, a workforce that’s able to be selective about where they choose to work, and increased demand from consumers for environmental compliance.

Regardless of the “why”, the how is clear: companies are prioritizing safety with increased allotments for environmental compliance, worker safety, and chemical and waste management. All this, alongside a growing trend of leveraging technological advancements to promote workplace safety.

Alarming Rise in Workplace Fatalities Across the United States

The most recent report from the Bureau of Labor statistics focuses on 2021 — data is still being aggregated for 2022. Amongst other eye-opening statistics, it reported that:

Fatal workplace injuries in the U.S. increased by 8.9% in 20212

Exposure to harmful substances or environments caused 798 deaths in 2021, an 18.8% increase from 20203.

2021 saw the highest number of fatalities due to harmful substances or environments since 20114.

Fatalities from falls, slips, and trips rose by 5.6% in 20215

The American Federation of Labor Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFLCIO), a federation of over 60 national and international unions that represent 12.5 million people, also includes data of workers dying from occupational diseases in their reporting. According to AFLCIO:6

The True Cost of Employee Health and Safety

There’s a saying in the safety world: “If you think safety is expensive, try an accident.” According to the National Council on Compensation Insurances’ Workers Compensation Statistical Plan, the average cost of a workplace injury directly costs employers around $40,0007. Of course, that’s not including indirect costs like increased insurance rates, lawsuits, and fines. And because worker shortages abound, having an unfavorable reputation may quickly lead to you not having any workers to take care of.

Workplace Safety and Safety Budget Considerations

Before you start spending your safety budget, look holistically at your workplace and evaluate where to prioritize spend.

  • Do you have ergonomic equipment and safety wearables?

    Your most important resource is your workers, and there’s no quick fix for a worn-down body. Reduce strain and promote better posture with mats on cement floors, durable work boots, and comfortable seating areas. Ensure that the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) you deploy was bought with quality, not quantity, in mind (more on that below).

    Consider how much your employees have to walk during their shift and reduce their daily steps if possible. For example, if your workers are repeatedly returning to a fixed workstation to use the printer or grab printed materials, equip them with a mobile printer. This can help them to easily print important documents, no matter where they are in the workplace. And on-the-spot printing can enhance your overall workplace efficiency.

  • Is your expensive PPE disappearing?

    Of course, safety wearables that deliver ergonomic benefits are only beneficial if the PPE is on-site and accounted for! If assets are disappearing from your jobsite, large portions of your budget are disappearing as well. Protect your assets by printing laminated labels with asset numbers, barcodes, and other important information with a durable, reliable label printer like the Brother PT-800W or PT-P900W.

  • Are there any potential hazards at your site that require safety labels?

    Prevention is key when it comes to saving on safety costs— and saving lives. Identifying hazards and threats on your jobsite with clear, compliant signage is mission critical for promotion safety and avoiding risks.

    Because Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), American National Standards Institute (ANSI), and National Electrical Code (NEC) labeling standards constantly evolving, it may be wise for your business to invest in an on-demand, all-in-one safety signage solution. This type of safety technology allows you to design and print the compliant safety labels you need, fast, so you can meet standards while keeping workers safe and productive.

  • Does your jobsite have any machinery or equipment that could pose a risk to employee health and safety?

    If so, prioritize spending on safety tools that can allow you to highlight potential threats with durable, clear labels. You’ll want to include clear instructions, important information, and warnings— and making these as readable and crisp as possible is especially important if you’re working with a multilingual workforce.

    These labels can even take safety a step further: having the right information on the machine can enable quick, efficient repairs with the proper tools. This can reduce the risk of injury, enhance workplace safety, and save costs on improperly repaired equipment.

  • Do you have the right software to create safety labels?

    Brother offers a free label design software called LabelSuite that comes with our safety solutions. With LabelSuite, you can also leverage a variety of templates for your labeling needs. These common templates give you the foundation you need to create compliant, crisp safety signage. Design the signage you need for:

    • General safety labels
    • Warning & caution labels
    • Social distancing signage
    • Hand washing signage
    • Tool cleaning signage
    • Equipment sanitizing signage

Make Your Workplace Safety Budget

With all these considerations in mind, it’s time to start crafting your budget. Use these strategies to ensure that you’re making the most of your expenditures, without compromising the safety of your employees.

Work with leadership and shareholders to make a vision aligned HSE goal. Then, return to this any time you need to make a purchasing decision. When you evaluate your safety products, equipment, and services, see if they align with the objections of your vision. This helps you prioritize investments that make a bigger impact, while avoiding unnecessary or impulse expenses.

Regardless of the size of your company and budget, there’s one thing that needs to drive your entire vision. It’s not budget. It’s not efficiency. It’s protecting your workers, and creating a safe environment for them to work in. Compliance standards are in place to safeguard lives, so your vision needs to focus on areas of common risk. This may include:

  • Marking hazardous chemicals and bottle contents with secondary GHS labeling
  • Identifying electrical hazards on switch boards, panel boards, control panels, and more with arc flash signage
  • Creating processes for general safety communications, including generating multilingual, accessible signage
  • Ensuring proper equipment startup and shutdown procedures with lockout/tagout tools

Break Your Budget Into Components

Simplify your spending planning by breaking your needs into different categories and prioritizing the areas that are most critical to upholding your HSE vision. Common areas to prioritize spend are:

  • Training and onboarding
  • Safety equipment
  • Personal protective equipment
  • Compliance and auditing tools
  • Health surveillance
  • Workers’ compensation and safety team salaries

Once you’ve broken down your budget into smaller categories, identify savings opportunities. For example, if you’re frequently buying pre-printed labels in bulk, consider the cost-benefit of an on-demand safety signage printer.

Get Everyone Onboard

Early buy-in from workers is critical to upholding your HSE vision. And since your workers are the ones with boots on the ground, they’re also the ones who can tell you if the ergonomic boots you purchased are actually feasible for their day-to-day line of work.

Encourage communication from the start by seeking your worker’s opinion on new safety policies, asking them where they have spotted potential hazards, and trying out new safety technology. Implement trainings early and often, and reward workers that are enacting safety measures on the ground floor.

Three Things You Should Always Do When Purchasing Safety Equipment and Technology

Choose Affordable, High-Quality Tools That Drive Safety and Efficiency

When it comes to safety, you don’t want to skimp. By basing your purchase decisions on affordable quality, you’re ensuring the reliability and effectiveness of what you purchase. High-quality tools can have a longer lifespan than their lower quality, lower cost counterparts. And investing in high-quality tools demonstrates that your company values safety above all.

That’s not to say that the tool or tech itself won’t deliver cost-saving benefits! For example, an on-demand safety labeling solution may seem more expensive than a bundle of pre-printed labels on the face, unless you factor in the true cost of labeling. Try to choose from reputable brands like Brother Mobile Solutions. You can find the tools you need at a great price point, without sacrificing support or quality.

Consider the Lifetime Cost of Your Solution

  • Does your safety purchase require extensive training?
  • Is the tool easy for any worker to use and understand?
  • Does it boost productivity?
  • Does it require extensive maintenance?

This is where quality over cost really factors in. Choosing tools and tech that offer benefits like industry-leading warranties and support means that you may receive more value over the lifetime of your product— and some well-deserved peace of mind.
TD4 Safety Label Printer printing high resolution do not enter stickers from laptop

Because Safety Isn’t One-Size-Fits-All

With the Brother on-demand safety signage solution, you get the printer, software, and supplies you need to design and print compliant safety signage on the spot— no expertise required. And because it’s a Brother product, you’re backed by “at your side” support.

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Dan Cobb
Dan Cobb
Senior Manager, Industrial Solutions
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