Safety Guarding 101

Safety by Design: Bringing Safety to the Forefront


Jason Kerkhof

Calendar icon

August 23, 2023

In today's fast-paced and highly competitive business environment, the adage "safety first" holds more significance than ever before. This simple yet powerful phrase serves as a constant reminder that the well-being and protection of individuals should always take precedence over all other considerations. By emphasizing the importance of safety, businesses can create a culture that values and prioritizes the welfare of their employees, customers, and stakeholders.

While some may argue that safety measures can be perceived as impediments to productivity and profitability, it is essential to recognize that prioritizing safety in a business case is not only ethically responsible but also highly practical. This blog will delve into the practicality of implementing safety measures within a business context, exploring the numerous benefits that arise from cultivating a safe working environment and the potential risks and costs associated with neglecting safety considerations.

To understand if this is something that is possible, you will first need to understand the bottom line of business.


The Bottom Line of Business

The purpose of business is multifaceted, and while ensuring safety is crucial, it is not the primary objective. The fundamental purpose of business is to generate profit, create value for stakeholders, and sustain long-term success. While safety is a critical component of any responsible and ethical business operation, it is just one aspect among many that must be considered. Businesses are established with the intention of providing goods or services, meeting consumer needs, driving innovation, and ultimately generating revenue.

When it comes to allocating resources and making decisions, businesses must strike a balance between safety considerations and other essential factors such as cost-effectiveness, competitiveness, and efficiency. While prioritizing safety is necessary, an excessive focus on safety alone can hinder progress, innovation, and competitiveness. Businesses operate in dynamic environments where they must adapt to market demands, technological advancements, and changing consumer preferences. Striking a balance between safety and other business priorities is crucial for growth and survival.

More over, it is important to recognize that absolute safety is an unattainable goal. Despite the best efforts and stringent safety measures implemented by businesses, there will always be inherent risks associated with various activities and operations. Businesses must manage these risks effectively, but eliminating them entirely is impractical and may even impede growth and progress.

Businesses also have a responsibility to their shareholders and investors. Maximizing shareholder value is a primary objective, and this often requires taking calculated risks and making strategic decisions that may involve some degree of uncertainty. Safety considerations should not override the pursuit of growth and profitability, as long as risks are managed responsibly and ethically.

However, it is crucial to emphasize that businesses should never compromise on the safety and well-being of their employees, customers, and other stakeholders. Neglecting safety considerations can lead to detrimental consequences such as workplace accidents, legal liabilities, reputational damage, and loss of trust. These consequences can have far-reaching impacts, affecting not only the affected individuals but also the overall performance and sustainability of the business.

While safety is undeniably important, it is not realistic to be the primary purpose of a business. The purpose of business is to generate profit, create value, and sustain long-term success. Striking a balance between safety and other business priorities is crucial, as businesses must also consider factors such as cost-effectiveness, competitiveness, and innovation. However, businesses should never compromise on safety and must manage risks responsibly to protect their employees, customers, and stakeholders. By incorporating robust safety measures into their operations and fostering a culture of safety, businesses can minimize risks and create a secure environment while simultaneously achieving their broader business objectives.


Why Safety by Design Works

Safety by design, or including safety in the way you do business, is the best way to offer a long-term, financially beneficial solution to safety. When taking this approach, you really need to take a step back and look at the whole process of how the organization operates.

An integrated approach like this will resort to the hierarchy of controls, which generally are as follows, in this order:


o  Swapping out a hazardous chemical for a less hazardous chemical (substitution)

o  Eliminating the need for any such chemical in the process by changing the process.


o  Ventilation

o  Machine guards

o  Automation


o  Procedures

o  Job rotation

o  Signage


o  Hard hats

o  Safety glasses

o  Safety shoes

The Hierarchy of Controls


Any risks that remain after all of the above steps, would be your residual risk. There aren’t many cases where you can get your risk all the way to 0, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get close.