The aim of a recent INRS study was to investigate the link between companies’ accident rates and their economic performance. The ultimate goal was to answer the question: “Can it be said that the more resources a company devotes to occupational risk prevention, the better its economic performance?”
The strength of this work lies in the large panel of companies surveyed and the time period covered, both of which are fairly unprecedented. Based on INSEE (The French National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies) and CNAM (French Social insurance for occupational risks) databases, the data used concerned 1.977 million French companies covered by the general scheme, belonging to 83 professional branches, and monitored over all or part of the period from 2003 to 2017, i.e. 15 years. In all, more than 14 million records were analysed.
The main finding is that there is a significant negative correlation between the number of accidents and a company’s economic performance. A 10% increase in the frequency of accidents at work reduces a company’s productivity by 0.12% and its profit by 0.11% over the same year. And this effect is still very much present the following year.
A second lesson is that the significance of this effect is highly dependent on the size of the company. For companies with fewer than 20 employees, this 10% increase in the frequency of work-related accidents leads to a 0.38% reduction in productivity and a 0.24% reduction in profit. Whatever the size of the company, a work-related accident disrupts production and thus reduces productivity. This effect is particularly significant for small businesses, which have more constraints in terms of staff and equipment to deal quickly with the disruption caused by a work-related accident. Additional tests carried out on companies with more than 150 employees (which may have greater resources to invest in prevention) show that their profits are even affected over two to three years.