What is the largest controllable cost in a bakery? Employee safety, by a long shot, according to Bill Zimmerman, president and CEO, The Long Co., Chicago.

“We can look at waste, absenteeism, overtime and equipment downtime — they are all dwarfed by safety,” he said.

When analyzing an operation’s efficiency, establishing an employee safety mandate can have the biggest impact on lowering overhead because many bakeries are self-insured. “If one employee has a back injury, you may have to lay out as much as $150,000 for the final settlement,” Mr. Zimmerman said.

In many ways, he added, employee safety always is the bottom line.