A worker is injured on the job every 7 seconds. 12,600 workers are injured on the job every day. And, those injuries are costing companies 104,000,000 lost production days. These stats, courtesy of the National Safety Council, paint a sobering picture of the modern workplace. But, it’s a picture most companies are now attuned to in today’s business landscape.
Worker safety is now a huge on-the-job priority for companies in multiple industries. And that’s leading organizations to take a more proactive approach to injury prevention and treatment that demonstrates a strong commitment to employee well-being.
Back to those 104,000,000 lost production days for a moment: There’s no doubt that this is getting companies’ attention, and it’s not just manufacturing companies that are dealing with this. The service, transportation, and construction industries are among the many others that are impacted. Over the last few years, we’ve seen a more concerted effort by employers of all kinds to address the work- and non-work-related physical capabilities of employees because, ultimately, it optimizes their workforce and lowers the cost of injury and illness. It’s just good business.
So, as more companies pay more attention to workplace safety and devote more resources in that direction, I’m starting to notice that a few workplace safety trends are emerging for the year ahead. Based on my collaborations with industry peers and what I’ve seen at client locations throughout the country, here are three key trends I envision playing out significantly in 2020.
Pushing for a Broader View of Health and Well-Being
One trend we’ve seen in the wellness world is the shift toward a more comprehensive approach to well-being that goes beyond physical health. It’s a multifaceted approach that includes social, emotional, financial, and environmental dimensions of health. And, it’s a concept that I see integrating more with workplace safety initiatives and programs in 2020.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) outlines a “Total Worker Health” concept, which many companies (including ours at HealthFitness) have adopted. As I mentioned above, it takes a broader view of worker well-being and encourages a more proactive approach to overall health and well-being. As I look toward 2020, I believe this standard will be increasingly adopted by employers seeking ways to better care for their employees.
Personalization Will Become … Well, More Personal
Few things are more personal than employee health. And across the health and wellness arena, employees are coming to expect a personalized experience. This goes for workplace safety programs, too. As the U.S. workplace becomes more diverse and adapts to economic and regulatory factors, I expect the need—and the demand—for personalization will surge in 2020.
Let me give you an example of what this looks like. A large manufacturing company was recently facing challenges with sprain and strain injuries (a common workplace safety issue) among new hires. The company decided to add a third shift at one of its production sites. In the planning process for this addition, the goal was to reduce the incidences of these musculoskeletal disorders. So, the company decided to implement a personalized approach featuring seven full-time associates who seamlessly integrated with union leadership, operations supervisors, and on-site medical staff.
These seven on-site safety professionals conducted work conditioning programs, lineside coaching, and first aid and early intervention. This personalized approach resulted in a decreased number of sprains and strains and immediately and positively impacted production numbers.
Generalized > Specialized Safety Pros
Think back 10 years ago. Most safety professionals had one or two areas of focus or accountability. As an example, they worked in fire, security, or environmental categories. But, with more companies streamlining roles and downsizing departments, over the past few years, we have seen more consolidation of safety roles.
Safety professionals are tasked with multiple responsibilities with more generalized approaches. This undoubtedly will lead to more work for safety professionals and teams, and they will be stretched thinner than ever. So, internal support from other teams and departments will be key, as will the ability to steer safety professionals toward tools and resources they can integrate into the workplace and help improve worker lives.
As you look ahead to 2020, work to educate yourself, your leaders, and your colleagues on these important employee safety trends. They can—and likely will—set the foundation for optimal safety and well-being success in 2020.