Increased production demands can compromise health and safety, says study
According to recent research, when there is a high demand for a product, companies increase production and this can be a health and safety risk.
Research at Yale School of Management by Kerwin Charles and others looked at the relationship between high demand and health and safety. Analysts found that firms spent money on increased production but did not invest in the safety measures required when production volume increases. They concluded that workers were less safe when production rises.
The study was carried out in one of the most dangerous sectors, US mining, which has nearly three times the fatal accident rate of other industries. Researchers found that when there was a high demand for mined products, owners tended to spend more on increasing mining production than on safety equipment.
Mineral mining was an ideal sector in which to test the theory that increased production means less safe working environments as the data is easy to measure, but the conclusions of the study apply to all industries. Kerwin Charles, Dean of the Yale School of Management, gave the example of serving pizzas at a popular sporting event: the owner of the pizza stall wants to serve pizzas as quickly as possible to waiting customers. There is, perhaps, more focus on selling as many pizzas as possible in a fast time rather than making sure that all workers wear protective workwear gloves that prevent burns from hot ovens.
Charles says that there are multiple forces affecting firms and their employees. Economics and safety are two forces that have complex interactions.