Improving workplace safety continues to be a major focus in 2021, especially in the engineering, construction, and manufacturing industries.
Even so, a survey from Oasis shows that ensuring a safe work environment through workplace safety initiatives during the pandemic is a top priority among 300 business owners in the U.S. Changing priorities due to pandemics has replaced attracting talent, with employee well-being and safety being a top priority in the year ahead.
2021 will be challenging as companies, in particular mid-size and small businesses, operate safely bringing staff back to work and adjust to the long-term impact of the pandemic.
Regardless of the industry they serve, all companies have to adopt new policies and abide by the local and state-mandated laws as the pandemic prevails.
Even more, whether workers have experienced mental health challenges or cutbacks brought on by pandemics, all employees have been impacted. With safety being a top priority harder to attain than ever, safety-sensitive workplaces had a rough year. Here are the top workplace safety initiatives.
Goodbye panic zone, hello learning zone
As the virus dragged on and businesses slowly reopened but with new safety policies in place. They were forced to adopt new safety policies during a time where many brains were hard at work. This, however, has been welcomed with more discussion, more change, debates, and plenty of new propositions.
As many positive business owners affirm, 2021 may likely bring the end of the pandemic. However, they will hold on to the positive that came out of it – the passion for safety, the prospects of change, technological innovation, improvement, and development in the face of challenges.
What’s more, they continue to see things outside their comfort zone, continue to have those important safety dialogues, and continue proving such accountability for one another’s safety as we’ve done so far.
More focus on positive safety culture
One thing this pandemic has really helped with is a renewed focus on more positive safety culture.
When a constant feeling of caution, masks, social distancing and vulnerability became the new normal, compassion, self-awareness, and active risk management also became the norm.
A greater risk of health linked with physically coming into the office and the need for extra shifts to make up for quarantined/ sick staff required more empathy and appreciation for workers.
The employee retention and turnover clearly show that employees are eager to work for organizations or leaders that they consider genuinely care about them. People won’t stay longer if companies only hire for the body.
Taking everything with a grain of empathy will promote healthy employee retention during a time of labour shortages which make a great difference for businesses.
The whole world has become more digital this year. In-time chats, conference meetings on Zoom, everything through Slack messages. In 2021 people are doing virtual happy hours to promote their unique app ideas. Meanwhile, businesses that embrace digital innovation continue to gain terrain in their industries.
A recent survey identified employees having difficulties staying alert due to impairments like illness, fatigue, intoxication, dehydration, stress and more.
From detection to prevention
Business stalls followed by employee burnout and turnover plunges in productivity, greater operating costs and the general stress that sickened industries throughout the pandemic have meant that the temporary safety incident has become more likely and more disastrous.
According to compensationcalculatoruk.co.uk, improving incident management is a top priority for approximately 51% of businesses. Of course, the pandemic has made it clear for most businesses that it is impossible to efficiently operate without a good incident management strategy in place.
Fortunately, technology has risen to these challenges. AI made it possible for businesses to shift their primary focus from detecting in-house safety risks to avoiding workplace safety risks.
Five safety priorities for 2021
One of the top workplace safety initiatives for businesses is education. For instance, most companies have detailed safety guidelines, but less than 30% actually received formal training in safety over the last two years.
Another priority for businesses in 2021 is positive reinforcement. To promote risk awareness in business culture, it is necessary to reward safety achievements – a measure taken by only 16 per cent of companies. The advantage of rewarding efforts and safety success is a steady lever that encourages great team spirit, offering a work strong purpose. Positive reinforcement can quickly help to encourage engagement among employees in an effort to improve safety culture in a business.
Next on the agenda is more accountability. Less than 30% of the front-line managers feel more accountable for incidents, generating a perilous culture. Even so, business leaders suggest that one solution is to educate managers in leadership skills, encouraging them to “own safety on a daily basis”.
The fourth in this list is a post-incident investigation – a top priority for 2021. As it looks, only 46% of incidents are completely investigated and followed up with remedial actions.
Last but not least is a strong emphasis on “off-the-job” risks. That includes the risk of harm to workers when they’re not at home, either via usual unfortunate circumstances or due to psychological factors – poor mental health, stress, addiction problems, relationships and more. With employees getting more mental health-related burdens since the pandemic, acknowledging these factors is top of the mind for most businesses in 2021.
Applying these measures is important, and could make an already strong framework even better. Although it has always been a priority, health and safety in the workplace have reached a new level in the light of a global pandemic. Considering the brunt of this change, the big picture is somewhat much more positive. Most leaders prioritize safety over all other business matters, while more than 90 per cent have in-place safety standards and a hands-on approach to accident prevention. The number never lies, only 3 per cent feel unsafe in the workplace while nearly 75 per cent feel that there is room for improvement.
A matter which still causes uncertainty is that safety efforts appear to lack responsibility. However, living and working in a safe environment remains a basic human right, and can’t any longer be seen as an objective but as an expectation by employees, stockholders, and society alike. Following these workplace safety initiatives will greatly help the safety of your business.