For the majority of us who work in an office setting, safety isn’t a frontrunner in most of our minds to complete daily tasks. We’re usually subliminally preoccupied with staying awake on the way to work, chewing our food completely at lunch so we don’t choke and walking safely down the stairs.
Those of us who don’t have to worry about serious safety hazards should consider ourselves fortunate. However, for a large majority of the workforces around the world, the possibility of serious injury is the reality from the slightest of oversights. Service workers, laborers, anyone in agriculture, and virtually everyone new to a role where moving parts or significant physical activity is involved are at risk.
My thoughts are that those of us in the technology field need to make companies that employ such workers more aware of options that are available. This will curb these tragic incidents and ensure that people return home to their families at the end of the day.
The Problem With Poor Safety
For years now, falling has been the most common workplace fatality in the United States, per the most recent report generated by OSHA in 2017. Worldwide, these figures are much higher when factoring in countries with less developed safety programs and agencies.
After speaking with colleagues and friends in these industries, there are few common themes in the beliefs as to why these kinds of things happen:
- People are in a rush and do not follow proper safety procedures.
- Equipment becomes faulty from wear and tear, it goes unreported and there’s an accident as a result.
- Safety rules are viewed as an annoyance, so some cut corners at the risk of being injured.
- Workers fail to pay attention due to being tired, rushed or negligent, which can result in an individual and/or a co-worker being harmed or worse.
The list goes on…
My company deals primarily with computing services, so we’re quite removed from such environments. With that said, there are some parallels to safety issues with laborers and what we do.
Rushing and overworking to the point of exhaustion takes a toll on people’s health and cognitive abilities. Here, it means that my staff might get sick or overlook some detail on one of their projects.
Elsewhere, this could lead to much more serious consequences than the flu or producing lackluster quality in projects. There are lives at stake, so this means that beliefs and attitudes must shift for both management and workers alike. If proper safety feels like a taxing process, then it is the responsibility of leaders to work toward changing this mentality and altering processes as necessary.
Changing how people view processes is up to management — they need to roll up their sleeves and act as leaders to make safety a part of company culture. Fortunately, technology is here to help.
How Technology Is Being Used To Improve Workplace Safety
The two most important parts of safety (and most other) technology is that it both works and is easy to use. It seems that the common consensus is most people feel they’re under the gun to complete assigned projects as quickly as possible — anything that’s tedious, confusing or slow simply won’t do.
Workers and contractors need to be able to log observations and track issues for different working environments. There should be dashboards and easy-to-use tools that make these instances as visible as possible. Also, companies need to track the integrity of both tools and safety equipment.
For example, let’s say you supply safety harnesses for those who work from heights where serious injury or death could be the result of a fall. These items should be cataloged and inspected on a regular basis. With older items, fibers will wear down, which could result in breakage if a human were to actually fall and put stress on the item.
There are several systems on the market that provide functions to track potential issues, log incidents, record inventory and audit safety. Companies can take advantage of a collaboration and document management platform to build a team site, set up a workflow for incident warnings and host safety documentation.
Such systems also allow organizations to offer digital safety training. For example, using solutions such as Microsoft Forms or Google Forms, it’s easy to test employee knowledge around safety training and documentation. (Full disclosure: My company is a Microsoft Gold Partner.) Let’s say your company plans to adopt a new piece of equipment. Once it does, you can create tests to ensure employees know how to properly handle the unit before using it in the field.
The idea of using wearable tech to enhance workplace safety is also becoming a popular idea. The main problem with this at the moment is the lack of platforms that can meet data compliance standards (such as HIPAA) for monitoring medical information such as employee vitals. With that said, such tech shows promise for the future — along with devices like proximity sensors — but there are still some kinks to work out before these solutions become viable for actual use.
Some companies will find the customization ideal for their needs. However, others may opt for an out-of-the-box safety management solution. To find the right solution for your company, take advantage of free trials to see how each system works. Once you’re comfortable, make a move and adopt the best software.
Final Thoughts On Safety
We all want to go home at the end of the day. Make sure safety is a top priority so workers and contractors make it back to their families. Also: slow down — rushing anything leads to poor quality. Deliver the best possible product or service through deliberate action and keep everyone safe!