The National Safety Council has been America’s leading safety advocate for 100 years. It is a non-profit organization dedicated to eliminating preventable deaths at work, in homes, and in communities. They compile statistics regarding workplace injuries in an effort to shed light on the number of preventable accidents that occur. In 2017, there were 4,414 preventable deaths that occurred in the workplace. There were also 4,500,000 injuries that required medical attention. This resulted in an approximate cost of $161.5 billion. This figure includes wage and productivity losses, medical expenses, and employer costs.
Fortune reports that Koch Industries owned Georgia-Pacific may be putting profits ahead of employee safety.
In March of 2014, then-CEO of Georgia Pacific Jim Hannan joined other Georgia-Pacific executives to discuss a crisis. While Hannan had been delivering higher profits and paying down debt, the workplace was becoming more dangerous.
2013 saw two employees being killed on the job. The number of employees that had been injured was rising. When Hannan held the meeting regarding safety concerns, no employees had died that year. By the end of the year, six Georgia-Pacific employees had been killed on the job.
According to internal Koch documents, the accident rate had also risen in that year and has continued rising in the years since. By 2016, according to an internal Koch presentation, the company’s safety record was worse than its two major competitors’, which included Weyerhauser and Pratt Industries.
Georgia-Pacific points out that in order to address the problem, it has spent millions modernizing equipment and strictly enforced safety rules. However, Georgia-Pacific stopped short of slowing production and risking profits. According to insiders, this mindset has driven an increase in accident rates, rather than decreasing them.
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