As we look toward 2020, these are the workplace safety trends that will impact many industries and business sectors.
According to the National Safety Council, a worker is injured on the job every seven seconds. Furthermore, work-related injuries now cost companies an estimated 104,000,000 production hours each year.
Those are pretty sobering statistics. And, they tell the story of where we’re at with workplace safety as 2019 comes to a close.
Yes, worker safety is now front and center. As a result, many are taking a more proactive approach to injury prevention and treatment that demonstrates a stronger commitment to employee well-being.
But workplace safety is about productivity, too. As the information above demonstrates, workplace injuries often mean lost work days and lost production days. So, whether it’s a manufacturing firm or a traditional office environment, employers are increasingly aware that addressing work and non-work-related physical capabilities of employees optimizes their workforce and lowers the cost of injury and illness. It just makes good business sense.
As the focus on workplace safety has increased, so too has the focus on trends and what to keep your eye on in the year ahead. As we look toward 2020, I’m starting to see a few different workplace safety trends emerge that will impact many industries and business sectors. Based on my recent conversations with clients and colleagues, below are three key trends I see affecting many organizations in the next year.
- Personalization will get more “personal”
Personalization is a big buzzword right now. Everyone is talking about how to personalize health and well-being experiences at companies across the country. And, not surprisingly, technology is a big factor in that conversation as there are many tools that can aid in that process. However, human interaction should not be under-emphasized—especially when it comes to personalizing injury prevention and treatment programs.
For example, one large manufacturing firm we work with has been seeing challenges with sprain and strain injuries among new hires. They added a third shift at one of their production sites. As they planned for this addition, their goal was to reduce the incidence of musculoskeletal disorders. One solution to address this challenge and help meet that goal was to implement a “high-touch” approach featuring seven full-time associates that seamlessly integrated with union leadership, operations supervisors and onsite medical staff.
These onsite safety professionals conducted work conditioning programs, lineside coaching and First Aid and early intervention. This personalized and high-touch approach yielded significant results, decreasing sprains and strains and immediately positively impacted production.
- From specialized to generalized
Years ago, safety professionals had fairly focused jobs. They specialized in one or two areas. However, in 2020 we will continue to see more safety professionals taking on many more roles and areas of responsibility. As more companies streamline operations and downsize teams, a greater number of safety professionals are being asked to do much more than just one area of focus (i.e., fire, security, environmental).
In the year ahead, more safety professionals will oversee broader scopes and assume more areas of responsibility than ever before—and they’ll be more generalized in their approaches. The key will be for HR teams and leaders to steer safety professionals toward tools and resources that they can integrate into the workplace and help improve worker lives.
- A broader view of employee well-being
The last couple years have seen a big shift toward a more comprehensive approach to well-being that goes well beyond physical health. In fact, many companies are embracing the concept of Total Worker Health as defined by the National Institute for Occupational Health (NIOSH). This holistic approach to employee well-being integrates safety and health protection with injury and illness. It’s a multi-faceted approach that includes social, emotional, financial and environmental dimensions of health.
This notion of Total Worker Health takes a broader view of worker well-being and encourages a more proactive approach to overall health and wellness. As I look ahead to 2020, I believe employers and HR teams will increasingly adopt this Total Worker Health approach as they think about employee well-being.
So, there you have it—three big trends I’m seeing in workplace safety as we head into 2020. Keep these mind as you finalize your plans for the year ahead and work to create and foster a healthy and productive work environment for your employees