Most of us have the standard line items in our safety budgets each year: PPE (personal protective equipment), machine safeguarding, training, incentives, and safety consultants. When deciding how to allocate your 2018 safety budget, take into account some line items that best-in-class companies make sure that they invest in. Although it’s not a comprehensive list, here are 6 must-haves to include in your 2018 health and safety budget.
1. Wearable technology
Dozens of industries see the benefit of using sensors and connected tech to collect data and make decisions from that data. They also see is a great way to connect employees with their surrounding work environments. Today, more than 1 in 3 manufacturers is already collecting data through smart sensors so that they can improve how they operate while improving efficiency (4).
Wearable tech allows the health and safety of workers to be reliably tracked and monitored, for their benefit. Additionally, it’s increasingly being used to help manage occupational illness exposures. Whether it’s app alerts, smarter ways of communicating, spotting patterns in how work is getting done, location tracking, biometrics, or even detection of potentially harmful toxins in their environment, wearable tech is increasingly being used to help capture knowledge that can improve safety.
A few solutions that stand out include:
- Smart communication: from helmets to face masks that have connected tech, these solutions are helping workers communicate more effectively—especially in hard-to-hear environments (4)
- Sensors that can monitor exposures to hearing loss, poisoning, respiratory illness, skin disorders and other risks (3)
- Safety vests that include integration of wireless and/or Bluetooth technology
- Wearable tech devices that allows for video and voice calling
- Remote management: from smart glasses to connected safety containers, remote monitoring can allow offsite workers to see what’s happening in another location and they can watch and monitor hazardous materials, for example
- GPS tracking on workers and safety equipment to help to create a safer environment
- Smart personal protective equipment that can improve safety and productivity (3)
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2. Ergonomic interventions
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Having ergonomic interventions as a part of your safety programming is critical. It’s been nearly 15 years since Beevis and Slade did research to look at the costs and the benefits of ergonomic interventions in the workplace.
The conclusion was that applying ergonomic principles to the facility, workstation designs and work practices, and the overall production processes do make a critical difference and do deliver financial benefits to companies (1).
If you aren’t already, start by using software to learn about (and further track and trend) your injury and illness data; that will be a first and critical step to identifying and resolving ergonomic problems.
3. Workplace design
There’s an undeniable link between job safety and workplace design. In 2005, it was estimated that 42 percent of construction fatalities were associated with design issues. Another study looking at the aviation and nuclear industries saw that about 1 out of every 2 incidents is rooted in worksite design (1).
At minimum, investing in design can involve taking steps to follow and make sure you are up to date on guidelines from OSHA, The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the BWC Division of Safety and Hygiene applicable to your state, the National Safety Council, Mine Safety and Health Administration, the American Industrial Hygiene Association, among other state- industry-specific resources.
4. Leadership development
Do workers show pride in taking steps to promote their health and safety? If so, that is a result of your company’s safety leadership, a component that takes ongoing commitment year over year.
A basic checklist for your leadership development for 2018 can include:
- Are all leaders taking an active role in safety?
- Is communication regarding safety effective?
- Is your safety committee comprised of managers and workers?
- Do leaders have a participatory leadership style?
- Are supervisors committed to their work?
- Are supervisors committed to safety?
- Do you have a high-ranking safety officer or has the position been cut?
- Are leaders “walking the walk” with safety?
- Do you have good management-labor relations?
- Do leaders embrace both lagging and leading indicators to anticipate emerging vulnerabilities?
These questions can help point you towards specific areas of leadership development that could be invested in within the next year.
5. Employee engagement
There are many factors that can contribute to complacency in the workplace—and where there is complacency, there is greater risk for injuries and accidents. Employees’ level of commitment and engagement, however, can help work against complacency.
Engagement levels are also a strong predictor of safety outcomes in an organization. Consider investing (and in many circumstances, it’s a time and personal investment, not a financial one) in factors that help to support “all-in,” engaged workers:
- Seeking ways to improve manager-worker relationships
- Increasing transparent communication
- Opportunities for employee and career development
- Providing room for feedback and input from workers (especially in regard to safety)
- Employee coaching
- Improving empathy
Engagement translates to better quality of life and health for employees and customers, just as it cuts down on the number of workplace incidents—all the more reason to put more resources towards activities that can boost engagement.
6. Software to automate your safety process
As much as 45 percent of time that’s dedicated to safety is spent on administration work. With the right investments, 2018 can be the year where that time can go towards adding value to the business, not shuffling paperwork. In addition, eliminating paper will help keep everyone on the same page, be smarter about where you should focus for efforts to lower your incident rates.
Software can improve safety management by:
- Reducing (or nearly eliminating) the current safety-related administrative burden puts on workers & supervisors. (Who doesn’t want to free up 20 – 25 hours per month?)
- Enabling data collection from any device, giving employees the ability to report near misses easily, thereby improving engagement
- Enabling data collection from any device also helps improve accuracy and timeliness of information—remember information collected immediately is the most accurate.
- Leveraging data to help understand where improvements are needed to prevent future incidents.
Investing in Safety Management
iReportSource allows you to avoid complacency and manage risk, all while helping you to reinforce behavior-based safety practices. Your insurance premiums are based on lagging indicators; It’s our goal to help demonstrate to your insurance carrier that you are being diligent in your efforts to provide a safe workplace through recording leading indicators–that is, your proactive activities. Learn more about how you can easily and quickly complete near-misses, site audits, and the FROI immediately onsite with iReport.