Teaching the Financial Benefits of Worker Safety and Health

Ensuring employee safety and health is not only the human thing to do; it is also just plain good for business. At least, this is what numerous partners of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) have been reporting. Repeatedly, companies with strong occupational and environmental health and safety (OEHS) programs are experiencing cost savings and other business advantages simply by improving work conditions for their employees.

Now, NIOSH is attempting to teach the upcoming generation of business executives the benefits of such programs. In conjunction with the National Safety Council (NSC) and the Williams College of Business at Xavier University, NIOSH is promoting fair treatment of employees through an MBA course called “Business Value of Safety and Health.”

The course, offered at the Xavier campus in Cincinnati, Ohio, serves to inform business students of the many benefits – financial and otherwise – that come from instituting OEHS programs in the workplace.

The course has been offered since the Spring semester of 2009. Through real-world examples and case studies, the course teaches students how to evaluate OEHS initiatives and identify the most cost-efficient opportunities. Beyond financial benefits, the Xavier course program is also intended to promote research among safety and health professionals and reduce the overall number of workplace injuries and deaths.

So far, the inaugural course has been deemed a success. So much so, in fact, that Xavier now plans to expand course offerings related to OEHS practices. A new Center for Excellence in the Business of Health and Safety has been formed to create curriculum that tailors work safety practices and benefits to specific fields such as risk management, finance, economics and marketing.

Xavier and NIOSH are also co-sponsoring an “Economics of Sustainability – Health, Safety and the Environment Conference” in the fall of 2010. Dates for the conference are set for October 27 through October 29.

NIOSH intends to partner with other colleges to form and promote similar courses.