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Safe and sustainable businesses are more ethical, more profitable and more likely to last. Too often in business, safety and sustainability are seen as afterthoughts. Rather than investing money in making their businesses safer or more sustainable, businesses try to cut corners by being wasteful or by pushing the limits of employee safety.

Introducing a safer and more sustainable business model could help to greatly increase your profits, as well as make you a better company in other ways.

Let’s take a look at 4 ways in particular that you can do so.

1) Recognize the Benefits of a Safer & More Sustainable Workplace

A safe and sustainable business is not only a good thing from a moral standpoint; it’s good from a business standpoint, too.

US businesses lose $225.8 billion due to workplace injury and ill health each year. Recouping the expenses lost by a lack of workplace safety could save businesses billions. 

As for sustainability, there are countless reports extolling the business benefits of sustainable water use, sustainable attitudes towards deforestation and countless other sustainable practices.

All of this is probably why businesses who are actively reducing their carbon emissions have an 18% higher ROI than businesses who aren’t.

Finally, it’s worth remembering that customers care about how and where their products are made or their services are provided. It’s not just price and quality that affect if someone will buy from you. If a business is known to be unsafe or unsustainable, people may choose to go elsewhere — even if it costs more.

2) Invest in Training to Create a Safer & More Sustainable Workplace Culture

Your staff is your number one investment. As Richard Branson once put it, “staff comes first”. With that in mind, if you want to create a safer and more sustainable business, you should start with your employee training.

By investing in employee training, you are telling your staff two things. Firstly, by paying them to attend a course which will make them more employable in the future, you are telling them that they matter. This will make them a lot more receptive to the fact that safety and sustainability are important, which is the second thing you are telling them.

3) Get An Outsider’s Opinion

Have you ever visited another business and immediately spotted a problem? You sit there looking at lazy staff, bad products, and wasted expenditures, wondering why these things aren’t fixed. All the while, you might be ignorant of all of the issues with your business; issues which, to a disinterested observer, are just as obvious.

This is why inspections from a third party are so important. In fact, with regards to safety, it’s often the law. In the UK, the US and many other countries, workplace safety inspections are a legal requirement.

Sometimes, the law requires staff-led inspections, sometimes the law requires inspections from a government-approved private organization and, sometimes, the government may perform the inspections themselves.

While an employee or a friend might worry about offending you, a professional stranger will be objective. As such, they can tell you exactly what’s unsafe or wasteful about your current business model. If you’re able to take on board proper criticism, you stand to learn a lot.

4) Value Long-term Efficiency Over Short-term Shortcuts

An efficient business is not a synonym for a business that takes shortcuts. If you skip a safety inspection for your warehouse one month or buy plastic cutlery in bulk for your restaurant, this shortcut could save you money and effort in the short term. In the long term, your missed safety inspection could lead to a fine and your plastic cutlery will break or be thrown away.

Efficiency means believing that your business will have a future. You make sure that your staff performs the safety inspection your warehouse needs because — even if it means paying them to stay later — you are thinking of further down the line.

You invest in quality, reusable cutlery for your restaurant because — even if it means paying more than the price of a pack of plastic forks — you are once again thinking of further down the line.

Written By
Justin O’Sullivan is a safety expert, safety writer and entrepreneur. His business, Storage Equipment Experts, provides a variety of racking inspection services for other small businesses across the UK and Ireland.

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