Quite recently, OSHA released guidance for preventing and mitigating COVID-19 in the workplace. While that’s just at the beginning of the year, more changes will surely follow, one of which might be enforcing organizations to implement a COVID-19 prevention program for better workplace safety. COVID-19 dominated 2020 entirely, and as many workplaces are opening up gradually, the main focus of OSHA and employers is to do that safely by preventing or mitigating infections within workplaces. However, preventing the infamous virus is just one part of occupational health and safety – there are several other aspects that employers and regulatory agencies focus on to prevent workplace accidents and illnesses.
While 2021 is off to a promising start with a step in the right direction (the OSHA guidance), let’s look at some of the occupational health and safety trends we might see this year.
Some occupational health and safety trends we might see in 2021
Identifying mental health
For years, mental health has been ignored by many, dismissed by most organizations as they focus more on the physical safety of employees. However, 2021 might change all of that, as more organizations are acknowledging mental health, especially after the effects COVID-19 had (and is still having) on everyone. Organizations are becoming more aware of how mental health can affect productivity, absenteeism, retention, and morale.
Organizations can help by:
- Accepting mental health issues such as depression and anxiety
- Working on reducing them for the employees
- Providing employees with counseling
More workplace cultures that shift toward employee safety
While many organizations focus on occupational health and safety by making employee safety a core part of their cultures, this year, more organizations will adopt a culture with safety at its core.
To shift toward a workplace safety culture, the upper management needs to incorporate it within all of their decisions. Afterward, the management team needs to ensure that everyone within the organization follows the safety rules and regulations.
Organizations have seen how incorporating safety within the culture can significantly boost productivity, enhance employee morale, improve workplace safety, and prevent incidents – boosting the bottom lines in the process. As a result, many will be incorporating safety within their workplace cultures this year.
PPE is a term that was known mostly by workplace safety professionals, healthcare workers, and workers that need them. However, after the pandemic, virtually everyone knows or has at least heard about PPE. Moreover, due to the pandemic, there has been an increase in innovation regarding PPE.
Many of them now contain sensors that can identify hazards that might miss the worker’s radar and can even notify them with visual or audible feedback. Smart devices focusing on workplace safety are being created, for instance, industrial watches that can remind workers to take a break when the stress is too much after monitoring their heart rate, stress, etc. Moreover, they can also remind workers to maintain social distancing by having proximity sensors embedded in the devices.
Expect to see a rise in usage of such smart devices and protective equipment this year.
Proactive identification of workplace safety risks
Earlier, most organizations used to inspect their workplaces when it was either time for a checkup or when a workplace incident occurred. However, organizations have learned the hard way that this is not a feasible option anymore. Other than experiencing workplace safety incidents, this practice leads to hefty OSHA fines, citations, lower employee morale, lower retention, and even losses.
Thus, more organizations are proactively searching for anomalies or situations that might lead to workplace safety accidents, illnesses, and even near misses. They do so by conducting workplace inspections regularly, implementing preventive measures, providing regular training to workers, and using a robust OSHA recordkeeping software to keep track of all that – more on that later. Doing so can prevent some unwanted consequences like OSHA fines, violations, loss of goodwill, and more.
Hiring safety professionals
Safety professionals are being hired by organizations as the latter understand the importance of occupational health and safety. These professionals are highly specialized in workplace safety and having a resource solely dedicated to complying with safety standards is a move that many organizations are finding rewarding. Safety professionals are aware of the latest trends, technologies, and practices available that enhance employee safety and reduce workplace incidents and illnesses – making them valuable assets, especially in organizations that have higher safety risks and hazards. Moreover, the benefits of having a safety professional within the organization are much greater than having external safety consultants.
The demand for workplace safety professionals is higher than ever and we expect to see more organizations hiring them to move towards compliance with OSHA.
Incorporating employee feedback into workplace safety policy
One of the integral parts of having a workplace culture that focuses on safety is incorporating feedback from the employees. They’re the workers on the frontline, after all, and have first-hand experience facing the risks and hazards.
Many organizations already gather feedback from their employees regularly, and it helps them modify their practices that enhance workplace safety. This is one of the proactive ways to identify potential risks in the workplace, and addressing them effectively can prevent OSHA violations, incidents, and significant costs.
Implementing solutions that simplify occupational health and safety
While ensuring workplace safety is crucial for any given organization, not everyone has the same level of expertise, resources, or manpower to ensure compliance with safety standards. Moreover, there are many rules and regulations such as OSHA recordkeeping, and sometimes, all of them can become an administrative burden.
Fortunately, there are solutions available to simplify OSHA compliance, and one of them is CloudApper Safety. It is a robust OSHA recordkeeping software that simplifies OSHA compliance, ensures proper incident management, provides effective training management, and keeps everything in a centralized location – reducing the administrative burden in the process. The best part is that CloudApper Safety can be used right from smartphones – ensuring compliance on the go!