Why Driving Small Business Success Begins with Worker Safety

Investing in early MSD intervention generates twice the return or more, and for our team at Durable Surfaces, the free MSD Pledge membership has paid dividends.

Derek Cressman
May 23, 2023

Small businesses are the anchor of the U.S. economy, making up 99.9% of all companies and employing nearly half of American workers. What’s more, the U.S. Small Business Administration found in its latest report small businesses were responsible for creating two-thirds of new U.S. jobs and generated 44% of all economic activity. It’s safe to say, when small businesses prosper, so do our local communities, a reality my team never takes for granted. 

But the challenges of running and growing a successful small business cannot be understated. Compared to larger, more established firms, balancing the daily demands of serving customers, managing inventory, harmonizing operations and gaining market share can feel particularly outsized for low-margin businesses. And in pursuit of this aggressive growth, it can be easy for employers to overlook one of the most important components of any successful business: worker wellbeing.

Over the past four years, my company, Durable Surfaces, a leader in the concrete repair and restoration industry and a proud member of the Chester Springs, Pennsylvania, community, has experienced tremendous growth of 84%. But this success was never achieved at the expense of our more than 65 employees. In fact, just the opposite is true. In this same period, we made significant investments – from replacing our entire fleet of vehicles and implementing new safety technologies, to evaluating the types of projects we bid on and accept, to modernize our safety programs and culture. 

In particular, our team made a concerted effort to reduce musculoskeletal disorder, or MSD, risk for our workers. MSDs include ailments such as tendinitis, rotator cuff tears, back strains and sprains, and carpal tunnel syndrome, and often result from exposures to repetitive movements, awkward or static postures, and forceful exertions. Aside from being the most common workplace injury, they’re also progressive, meaning that disregarding prevention today may result in painful, life-altering injuries for workers tomorrow. The physical demands of our business are undeniable. It’s no secret the manipulation of hard concrete is difficult work, but like many small, community-focused businesses, our No. 1 safety goal is to ensure that our employees return home healthy at the end of each workday so that they may fully enjoy life outside of work. 

It’s this reason why Durable Surfaces signed the MSD Pledge, a first-of-its-kind global initiative launched by the National Safety Council MSD Solutions Lab last June to reduce MSD risk and injuries by 25% by 2025. Several of the world’s largest companies, such as Boeing, John Deere and United Airlines, also have taken part in this effort, but what makes our team especially proud to be part of the MSD Pledge community is the commitment we share to empowering all employers, regardless of whether they’re a multinational corporation or a family-owned business, with the knowledge and resources they need to create safer outcomes for workers. 

Notably, when it comes to MSD prevention, pledge membership this past year has helped our company:

● Learn about new safety technologies and service providers available, ultimately saving time and resources our team would have used to conduct similar research in-house

● Expand our understanding of industry benchmarking through our relationships with other MSD pledge members and industry-specific resources, such as webinars tailored to small business owners and safety managers

● Access customized feedback through the MSD Solutions Index, which helps us understand which safety investments may have the greatest impact on reducing MSD risk within our organization

● Attract larger, more prominent clients, which expect their vendors to have a sophisticated, MSD prevention program in place

It’s well documented that investing in early MSD intervention generates twice the return or more, and for our team at Durable Surfaces, the free MSD Pledge membership has paid dividends. Growth and safety aren’t mutually exclusive, which is why I encourage every small business owner to join us in signing the MSD Pledge. By taking action to reduce MSD risk, small businesses can improve their bottom line, strengthen workforce retention, reduce absenteeism and, most importantly, improve the lives of millions of workers on the jobsite and beyond. National Small Business Month is a time to pay tribute to the contributions of our nation’s more than 31 million small businesses, and there’s no better way to honor the workers and communities that make this possible than by prioritizing their safety.

Derek Cressman

Derek Cressman is president of Durable Surfaces, a leading Pennsylvania-based concrete repair company.

More About this Author

Partner with NSC

With a century-long legacy, the National Safety Council is a global center for safety expertise. Let's work together to align resources. We look forward to learning about ways we can join efforts to expand safety everywhere!

Shopping Cart

There are no items in your cart