Safety businesses are constantly changing to keep up with ongoing improvements made to workplaces. These new technologies often improve business efficiency, but can carry their own set of hazards, particularly when employed improperly. Starting in 2020, the COVID-19 epidemic has increased the complexity for OHS managers which is just another obstacle for employees and employers to hurdle.
Each year, the University of Regina uses information from the AWCBC to issue the Report on Work and Fatality Rates in Canada. It is typically challenging to collect information on workplace accidents, so these reports only include information from a couple years prior to their publication. The 2021 edition therefore includes accident rates from 2019, with the following important findings:
There was a decrease in workplace fatalities from 1,027 to 925 from 2018 to 2019.
Lost-time injuries increased from 264,438 to 271,806
At the end of the day, companies cannot afford to let their guard down, even if workplace fatalities decline. Recall that the University of Regina’s most recent analysis only includes data from a few years ago, so the impact of the epidemic is not yet apparent in released data. In this article, we’ll go over some key safety trends for 2023, a year that will provide special difficulties as more workers return to the workforce.
1) Wearable Technology
All sorts of gadgets, including personal protective equipment, are getting better in our increasingly technological world. PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) has historically offered physical protection from threats, but it may now be fitted with sensors or other innovations for real-time monitoring. Here are a few examples of how technology might enhance personal protective equipment:
Sensors can send automatic notifications to other staff when they detect that workers have been exposed to hazards.
They can also monitor the workers themselves, measuring vital signs like heart rate and body temperature.
Sensors can detect hazards that your senses cannot, and they can warn you with alarms to improve workers perception.
PPE protects your employees and helps you meet local regulations at the same time. However, smart PPE can give you live feedback about safety conditions in the workplace.
2) A Wider Health Appreciation of Mind and Body
The OHS sector has historically concentrated on protecting employees and passerby’s against occupational diseases and physical injuries. In addition to this, it is now clear how important mental health is, especially after two years of a pandemic throughout the world.
Businesses have begun to understand that if they don’t care for their employees’ mental health, they will not be able to compete. According to the World Economic Forum, anxiety and depression have an annual economic cost of nearly $1 trillion USD. Many of the criteria for the WELL certification for buildings—which is comparable to LEED but focuses on wellness—are connected to mental health.
3) Online Safety Training
Businesses were dramatically compelled to adopt videoconferencing tools in 2020 and 2021 in order to stay operational throughout the epidemic. This has lead initially hesitant managers to appreciate that these technologies offer long-term advantages. A good illustration of this is the effect on online education:
The training costs and time requirements of employees can be dramatically reduced.
Companies can avoid the administrative work of operating or renting physical classroom settings.
Even before they begin, traditional classroom courses present difficulties. The instructors and participants must be available on the companies’ preferred timetable, and then everyone must be gathered in one location. For large businesses that operate in several places, this can be a logistical headache, especially if they have to finish a safety training right away to comply with requirements. But when employing virtual training, schedules and distances are no longer a barrier.
4) Ergonomic Work-Spaces
We frequently picture abrupt incidents while discussing job injuries. Even in occupations that are not regarded as “hazardous,” repetitive actions over time can nonetheless result in injury. For instance, poor posture when using a computer might result in carpal tunnel disease or back pain.
Since these injuries happen over time, employees may not realize the pain at first.
Eventually, these afflictions can reach a point where it makes work impossible, and the affected worker must leave the job temporarily to recover.
While safety experts can aid in creating safety programs and educating staff, many businesses are choosing to hire and develop their own safety specialists. This is especially useful in heavy industry sectors like mining and construction where requirements are more stringent, more demanding, and often changing. Having safety specialists on board makes it easier for your business to adhere to it’s safety requirements. Additionally, they may assist you in implementing new safety technology while keeping you up to date on them.
6) Employee Feedback and Information Sharing
It is ideal businesses would suffer no incidents at work, even in organizations with stellar safety records, but they can still occur. These accidents, while unfortunate, present a chance for you to grow and develop your safety program.
Employee input can help you enhance your safety program due to their first-hand experience dealing with dangers. This feedback may also assist you in identifying safety precautions that are beneficial to the workplace because as some practices can appear prudent on paper but end up being impractical.
Technology is reshaping the occupational health and safety (OHS) sector. Personal protective equipment is getting smarter, and safety training is shifting to virtual classrooms. The importance of ergonomics and mental health is being recognized by businesses, who are also understanding that safety goes beyond preventing accidents and diseases. With all of this, safety programs are evolving and being continually enhanced based on information exchange. Who knows that innovations or revelations the future will bring to make the present safer.