Workplace injury prevention – an energy efficient solution

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The staggering cost of workplace injury and how your business can prevent it

June is National Safety Month, and a major focus is on highlighting workplace injury prevention.

The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that the cost of workplace accidents and injury to individuals, businesses, and the US was a massive $163.9 billion in 2020. Furthermore, that year there were 4 million workplace injuries that required medical attention, 99,000,000 days were lost, and 200,955 preventable deaths.

As you may imagine, industrial and manufacturing environments with their harsh conditions, challenging operations and demanding schedules are disproportionately impacted. Manufacturing overwhelmingly accounts for almost 20% of the non-fatal private industry total. Furthermore, it represents a colossal 42% of all newly reported cases of occupational illnesses which is defined by OSHA “as any abnormal condition or disorder resulting from a non-instantaneous event or exposure in the work environment.”

Both long hours and shift work exacerbate this issue, something that is commonplace in industrial and manufacturing workplaces. Safety incidents are 30% higher during night shifts and 2x more likely during longer shifts of more than 8 hours. With 38% of the US workforce reporting being sleep deprived, this potentially dangerous combination can lead to a workplace that is susceptible to accident, injury, and in some cases, death.

To put it another way, losing even 2 hours of sleep is similar in effect to having three beers. Staying awake for 21 hours is equivalent to having a Blood Alcohol Count (BAC) of 0.08 – that’s over the legal limit for driving in most states. When combined with fast-paced and dangerous industrial environments it’s only a matter of time before issues arise.

The energy efficient case for workplace injury prevention

Within an ever-tightening economic landscape it is not always possible to slow down operations or add more workers. A tenuous economic outlook and tight labor market are making both options difficult for many businesses.

Facilities are looking for forward-thinking opportunities to both improve safety and productivity in a way that is realistic for them. Many businesses are realizing energy-efficient lighting retrofits are a cost-effective “low-hanging fruit” with a fantastic ROI, that not only offers both improved safety and increased productivity, but also offers long-term energy-efficiency, cost savings, further benefit to both employees and the planet.

In contrast, dim and underperforming lighting systems decrease accuracy, reduce hazard perception, interfere with the body clock (circadian rhythm) and create an entire range of issues including headaches, poor focus, eyestrain, and fatigue. At its worst, an under-lit facility can significantly increase the chances of accidents, injuries and even fatalities and in terms of task performance poor light levels lead to more material and energy waste as well as production errors.

If your facility still utilizes incandescent, florescent, high-pressure sodium or other dated lighting solutions how much is it really costing you? Legacy lighting systems are more expensive to run as they use more energy, meaning you are paying much more on your energy bills and maintenance for an underperforming system.

By improving the lighting quality in your working environment, you are unlocking a wealth of benefits that include improved working conditions and improved mood and morale of your workers, all while increasing safety and boosting productivity. Optimized lighting, created a more stimulating environment, improving hazard detection, creating happier & safer workers.

A study of the metal industry shows accident reductions of over 50% and another reporting that 94% of people indicated a faster detection rate of trip hazards under LED lighting.

“LEDs have the potential to significantly reduce the frequency of accidents related to the maintenance and repair of lighting systems. The long life of LEDs would enable an exposure reduction to the associated hazards.” The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

For nightshift work these benefits are even more necessary with an Industrial lighting and productivity report stating:

In the industrial field, alertness is of prime importance as it is a factor in not only mood but also in performance and the avoidance of accidents. Many investigations on the effects of light on alertness and arousal level have been carried out under (night) shift-work conditions because the level in, for example, arousal would be lowest and consequently the effects to be expected would be strongest.

Improved light levels and lighting that is designed specifically for the tasks at hand (task tuning) means reduced errors and less waste with many businesses testifying to benefits from LED lighting upgrades

In Greening the Building and the Bottom Line it was revealed some staggering benefits for well know companies after upgrading to LED lighting:

• 15% decreased absenteeism [Lockheed and ING Bank]

• 25% decreased absenteeism [Pennsylvania Power & Light]

• 16% increase in claims processed [West Bend Mutual]

Improved product quality worth $25,000 yr. [Hyde Tools]

• 20% improvement in defect rate [Boeing]

But it gets even better. Happier and safer workers are more productive, and it has been seen that increasing the lighting level from 300 lux (27 foot-candles) to 2000 lux (185 foot candles) can increase productivity by as much as 15 to 20%.

This all goes without mentioning the massive energy use reductions up to 80% , slashed energy bills, ongoing long-term savings that reduce your monthly OPEX. If designed and implemented correctly, an LED lighting project can be one of the most wide-reaching and impactful projects your facility undergoes.

With all these benefits, it makes sense to see what LED can do for your business.

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