cost of paper records

How much do paper records cost your company?

Author: BLR

Just how much does paper cost your company? It’s probably a lot more than you realize. In fact, if your company has 100 employees, the amount of money you’re wasting on paper each year could amount to the salaries for two employees!

There are several factors that contribute to the high costs of paper records. According to one study:

  • The average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of paper each year.
  • It may cost up to 31 times the cost of producing a document to send the information via paper – copying, filing, postage and more.
  • Over seven billion documents are created each year – and 15 trillion copies are made.
  • The average four-drawer cabinet costs about $25,000 to fill and $2,000 per year to maintain.

If you’re still on the fence about making the paperless plunge with your safety records, below are a few factors to consider as you think about what those hard copies really cost your company.

The expense extends farther than the cost of paper

Unless you’re among the smallest of small businesses, your hard copy costs extend far beyond the price of your printer, paper and ink. Other expenses include:

  • Paper filing and storage.
  • Copying, in-person sharing and mailing.
  • Security and shredding services for sensitive documents.
  • Printer and copier maintenance and repairs.

Aside from those costs, you also need to consider the time, space and employee pay involved in dealing with all that paper. Even in our increasingly paperless world, average of 50 to 70 percent of commercial office space is dedicated to document storage. What’s more, close to half of that documentation is duplicated, and a large majority of it is never accessed again. That’s a lot of money and effort being wasted.

Estimating the impact

What does 10,000 sheets of paper per worker cost every year? Judging by the average price for a 5,000-sheet case, that’s an extra $80 per year. Imagine you’re running a staff of 100 office workers. That’s $80,000, enough to cover two additional employees’ salaries.

That’s just the beginning, though. Because it costs about six dollars to handle, store and share every dollar’s worth of documentation, real costs are far higher. And the prices of storage and printing don’t even scratch the surface. According to a PricewaterhouseCoopers study, businesses spend an average of $20 in labor to file every document, $120 to search for each misfiled document, and $250 on labor to search for lost files.

Calculating the true cost for your workplace

So, how much are all of these factors costing your company every year? To get a rough idea, pull out your expense reports and follow the formulas below:

  • Paper costs = monthly paper costs x 12 months
  • File storage costs = number of filing cabinets x 16 sq. ft. x cost per sq. ft. of office space
  • Third-party storage costs = monthly rent x 12 months
  • Printing costs = printer rental price + annual printer maintenance fees + monthly ink cost x 12 months
  • Printer costs: If you purchase your printers, check your records to average their yearly cost.
  • Print-related labor costs = labor hours spent managing paper x average hourly wage x number of workdays per year

These totals are probably shocking, and they don’t even factor in another important element: the cost of inefficiency. When it comes to storing important safety information, such as job safety analysis records, safety procedure documents and safety data sheets (MSDS), you can’t afford to have vital paperwork missing when an inspector comes along. Furthermore, when this information isn’t easily available to employees, it requires more time and effort to track it down.

If employees can’t find what they need quickly and easily, they’re likely to do the job without it, which could put them at risk for injuries. If you’re looking to break the costly cycle of relying on paper, it’s probably time to consider a comprehensive EHS management solution for storing safety records.