In 2020, we learned a lot. We, for the first time in the modern age, battled an international pandemic, and it has left a deep impact on the way we work. 2021 will be a year of safety awareness, both personal and professional. This year, there are advances in three key areas that will affect your team and how you work in the future: PPE, worker wellness, and COVID-19.
Employee Safety: PPE
OSHA’s fatal four—falls, electrocutions, being struck by objects, and getting caught in or between hazards—account for more than half of all onsite injuries. In the past few years, tech manufacturers have entered the fight against workplace hazards, and now, the PPE your employees wear can protect them from these and other accidents. According to Clarion Safety,
“For example, smart vests can connect to WiFi and collect valuable information about the person wearing them. These vests can send data alerting a manager that a worker has fallen, or even sense when the person wearing the vest has become tired, based on their movements. Other wearables can tie into IoT systems, identifying dangerously high temperatures and other potential safety issues. IoT sensors may also go on equipment. These sensors can connect to computer vision systems, which process information and can take action to stop or shut off equipment if an injury seems imminent.”
Now, even your team’s clothing can offer protection. However, all the equipment in the world cannot protect your employees if it doesn’t fit or is not appropriately used in the workplace. Take the time to ensure that all equipment is right for the job and the employee. This can begin as early as the initial assessment with machine-based physical ability testing.
- Provide appropriate and updated equipment
- Educate each employee on the use of his gear
- Ensure fit of all PPE
Employee Safety: Worker Wellness
An awareness of worker wellness is no longer an option in the workplace. Organizations like the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health encourage employers to talk to employees about health beyond prevention, including emotional and environmental support. We recommend including resources on substance abuse, in an effort to address rising drug use in the United States. Worker health, anxiety, and stress are all top of mind for employers in 2021.
Additionally, offering an annual health fair or wellness screenings are a great option for those employees who many not have the benefit of a required annual physical. This can help address long-terms issues that can affect performance, such as blood pressure, heart health, and BMI.
- Offer programs to improve employee health
- Be aware of your employees’ personal well-being
Employee Safety: COVID-19
As we continue moving forward, an employers’ options for COVID-19 prevention increase, but the baseline stays the same: healthy employees equal a thriving business. Small things, like clean workstations, handwashing, and a focus on good personal health, will help keep your staff well in the office. Likely long gone are the days of 2000, when it was considered a badge of honor to come into the office sick. Now, employees are required to stay home when sick, and even the CDC is running ads to emphasize this point to employees.
- Educate your employees
- Offer necessary cleaning supplies and time to clean
- Emphasize employee wellness
- Be aware of the symptoms of illness in your office