How To Future-Proof Workplace Health and Safety
In today’s society, there’s judgment everywhere, especially over safety and health risks. We’re all looking at each other with our various educations and memorized articles in our heads saying knowing that the person next to us isn’t doing the best possible thing for themselves, whether it’s related to health or safety. There are so many sources telling us how to behave, what to do, and how to prevent certain things from happening that we could argue for ages. Even though we try our best to come up with a straight and true list of what we should and shouldn’t do, the same things happen in the workplace when it comes to safety.
Workers want to know that they can go to work in a safe environment and return home to their families. Has anyone headed on over to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration page and looked over all of the fatalities and catastrophes listed off by year? By week, even? For those interested, the website is easy to navigate, and the numbers are astounding. Scary, even. While numbers have gone down from previous years, there are new safety battles to fight (thanks to technology and trends). It’s important to note that when I say last years, I mean as recent as 2016! Safety trends just last year were lacking in some areas, and certain countries saw a higher death toll and accident toll as a result.
Thanks to our technology and ever-changing environments, we have to try to adapt. The current safety hazards are arguably harder to battle than before. Current megatrends have newer technology, robotics, and smartphones as both the largest hindrance and greatest asset to workplace safety. If we focus on how they are an asset, however, it outweighs the slight hindrance they’ve become. Those businesses that ignore the growing technology have had difficulty keeping ahead of competition and suffered irreparable harm (i.e., Blockbuster vs. Netflix)
There’s more to all of this than just robotics taking the place of their human counterparts, though the safety risk in that is much lower. If we focus on just how even phones have made a difference, the results are irrefutable. But how does something as simple as the phone we make calls on (if you’re as simplistic as me with your phone, you only use it for phone calls and text messages) suddenly turn into a safety module? Easy.
1. Information at our fingertips
Smartphones make it so that all the information we need is seconds away. Direct-read information can be obtained quickly and accurately, including finding OSHA’s standards or reporting an issue. There are even apps that will train your workers on how to be safe! SafeMe and The Good Observation are good places to start out
2. The Hassle of Graphs
It’s easier to keep track of trends, leading indicators of safety hazards in your particular work area, and even keep up with recent case studies on similar issues from your phone, which can now easily make graphs- we can even have Excel right on our phones if we want to go that route. Keep track of mandatory training, what levels each employee is at in the safety process, and know what percentage of your staff is fully safety-trained.
3. Working from Home? Is it possible?
Having web services such as the Cloud, AWS, or any other software you decide to use makes it so that you don’t have to be right in the workplace all the time to know and see what’s going on. You can even check in on what’s going on at work remotely from your phone, schedule and have meetings while on vacation, completely erasing the need for you to be tied to your desk!
4. Transparency, Transparency
These programs let us keep everything open to our company’s, employees, investors, etc. Real-time tracking shows employees what to look out for, current issues, safety performances, things to check for, etc. Even at Amazon’s fulfilment centres, it takes away the need for their safety managers to walk the floors reminding everyone to “lift with your legs, not your back.” That takes away the need to hire extra people everywhere, and holds safety managers accountable for the messages they are trying to get across.
Overall, safety is everyone’s job. That’s a general idea, right? But it’s also up to us and our safety managers to keep up with a changing work environment, push boundaries, and find new ways to tackle upcoming challenges. We can even anticipate and look to the future instead of dwell in the past. We can keep procedures clear, training modules transparent and in the open, and keep everyone actively involved in safety. It’s all at our fingertips!