Cultivating Safety in the Workplace
An open-minded approach to engage (employer to employee)
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly three million people suffer some kind of serious work-related injury or illness every year in the United States, not including those who are exposed to environmental health hazards. The most common causes of work-related injuries, as found by The National Safety Council are;
- Overexertion (most at risk – ages 45 to 64)
- Falls, slips, trips (most at risk – ages 55 and over)
- Contact with objects/equipment (most at risk – ages 16 to 24)
There is a significant need for companies to have a holistic, open-minded attitude when looking at safety and cultivating better ways to handle the risks within the workplace. They need to ensure that employees are well prepared physically and mentally to properly execute day-to-day work tasks in a safe manner.
Interestingly to note, this December 29, 2020 will mark forty-seven years ago when President Nixon signed the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) in 1970, which marked the beginning of workplace safety in the United States.
Here are some points companies should consider when looking at managing safety in today’s workplace environment:
The loss of attention or attentiveness by workers can be a contributing factor in many common injuries within the workplace. Companies must focus on changing employees’ attitudes on safety and safety performance.
To build a safety-centric workplace, having full transparency in the communication chain is key. Allowing employees to easily approach supervisors and managers with health and safety concerns. Reinforcing an open dialogue, promote through visual signage and safety campaigns on regular basis.
Empowering employees with knowledge is critical. Companies must provide comprehensive easy to use training tools, which are foundational for preventing a workplace injury. Ensure that the training extends beyond specific job, and incorporates overall “situational” and “conditions” safety practices.
Many companies are looking for ways to install more effective safety programs for helping reduce workers’ compensation costs and improve overall productivity. For years, core safety management activities have been entrenched in a world of paper forms and spreadsheets.
As highlighted by OSHA and leading safety professionals, companies who visibly care about worker safety see improved morale, increased productivity, reduce costs, and fewer injuries.
Since the Coronavirus, numerous workers’ compensation insurance carriers have seen an increase shift toward the use of safety technology by companies in various industry sectors, which is long overdue.
Where technology can provide benefits to company safety managers:
- Maintaining Inspection Records – centralized comprehensive log of equipment inspections, warranties, service dates, etc. – single source of truth
- Streamline Reporting of Safety Violations – use of mobile forms or scannable QR (quick response) codes to quickly create these reports via mobile phones and tablets
- Identify Workplace Environments – predicting potential risk areas in advance and improving jobsite safety through analyzing big data to make better decisions and increase productivity
- Workforce Training – employees having more “hands on” training, immersing themselves in a virtual world to high-risk situations (AR and VR applications)
Being able to allow safety managers to monitor workers and sites safety in real time for instant visibility into potential hazards that can cause injury, is a vital part of cultivating a culture of safety. Some examples of safety technologies being used:
- Smart Helmets – obtaining vital data through their visor, like temperature, oxygen levels in the blood, and heart rate
- Drones – survey damage spots and perform maintenance inspections of highly risk areas
- Smart Glasses – exchange video and audio recordings from the site, and receive safety site instructions
- Job Site Sensors – providing critical information on site conditions, like chemical or gas leaks
As digitalization expands further into work safety, more tools will become prevalent within a safety managers day-day activity for overseeing their work environments.
However, it is important for companies to maintain an eye on the true goal, which is to understand that the use of technology contributes to the culture of safety and it should not disrupt or distract from it.