Monumental changes in how and where work is performed create new risk and safety challenges. This session at the RIMS 2019 Annual Conference & Exhibition examined emerging workplace risks and effective safety strategies to address them.
- Larry Pearlman, senior vice Ppesident, workforce strategies practice, Marsh
- Timothy Martin, global health and safety manager, Steelcase
Ergonomics are a problem across many industries, especially with an aging workforce. Wearable devices measure body stress so that, with injuries, we can determine what happened, how it happened, when it happened and if it will happen again. Different technology like exoskeleton suits are available to help with strenuous activities, which can help retain your aging employees longer than otherwise expected.
Industries have evolved from using barrier robots (kept away from employees), to collaborative robots (good for repetitive tasks but extremely complicated to program) to now using autonomous robots. Autonomous robots are simple to program in an extremely short time, so virtually any employee can control them with little effort.
See also: Top OSHA Trends Facing Employers
3. Workplace Violence
Employers are still not being proactive enough on workplace violence, despite the increasing frequency. Training does not extend to drills, and mental health problems are going unaddressed. Employers need to shift from reactive policies to predictive and prescriptive policies. Technology has evolved to provide electronic robots that can patrol your workplace, supported by a control center that can interact with employees in real time.
4. Workplace Wellbeing
Studies show that employees are stressed and in poor health. Employee wellbeing is a major problem, and employers need to implement support for total wellbeing – physical, emotional, financial, social. There is a certain way to inspire wellbeing that does not seem like you are telling employees what they should be doing, which is ineffective. There are more-effective programs available that will tailor programs to employee preferences.
5. Temporary Workers
Temp workers often do not know proper safety basics and company policies related to safety. Employers can reduce the risks related to temporary workers through hiring practices, screening exercises, onboarding and continuous training. If you use a staffing agency, you can partner with it so that it aligns with your safety philosophy. Be transparent and try to match the type of work to the worker based on physical job requirements.
6. Changing Demographics
Training methods must adapt to address the changing nature of the workplace. A blended learning approach is now necessary for different generations. Technology is addressing safety learning preferences for the younger, tech-savvy generations. Micro-learning is available to address bite-size info in real time. Geofencing can monitor and message employees at decision points to ensure rules, compliance and hazard awareness. Also, virtual reality is available to simulate situations to manage the rare, impossible, expensive and risky.
See also: Connected Buildings and Workplace Safety
Marijuana use continues to increase as legalization spreads across the U.S. There is no accurate impairment measurement available, so it is very difficult to create employment policies and testing. It may not make sense to test any more but, rather, enhance your fitness-for-duty policies. There is a new technology that will scan an employee’s eye and tell you if he or she is fit for duty. This is a measure that you can put at the time clock to help measure impairment before the employee begins his or her shift.