The Top 4 Levers That Will Drive Safety Forward in 2022
Based on statistical trends, these are the four areas that safety professionals should focus on improving this year.
Employers and safety professionals no longer have to strategize in the dark. We have the ability to make informed decisions and let the data show us where our efforts would have the greatest impact.
Throughout 2021, the Health and Safety Index has shared what we have learned to allow organizations to create safer workplaces and empower them to develop stronger health and safety programs.
Here are some of our key findings.
COVID-19 Factors Impacting Health and Safety
Our Benchmark Report: 2020 vs. 2021 took into consideration a number of factors related to COVID-19 that could have significant impacts on wokrplace health and safety, including:
- A dramatic rise in employees working from home
- Improved mental health awareness
- Labor shortages and supply chain disruptions
Positive Industry Trends
We identified a number of positive industry trends that shows workplace safety moving in the right direction.
The following improvements in particular could be the result of companies responding to the pandemic:
- “I feel comfortable talking about mental health” (5% improvement)
- “My supervisor focuses on finding solutions, not on blame” (5.7% improvement)
- “Supervisor care and concern” (4% improvement)
Negative Industry Trends
Unsurprisingly, the pandemic also resulted in, or coincided with, some negative trends.
The following, for instance, could be related to supply chain issues and skill shortages:
- “Pressure to compromise safety” (4.4% poorer result)
- “Realistic time pressures” (3.5% poorer result)
Human and Organizational Factors
Armed with reliable benchmarks and the abiltiy to dig through the data to find statistical correlations, we gathered insights that can help us better understand the human and organizational factors that contribute to workplace safety.
Rather than reacting with an incident investigation to identify the contributing factors, analyzing the Health and Safety Index data allows us to proactively identify contributing factors related to specific factors such as safety, sleep, mental health, burnout, and employee engagement.
For instance, we have found a number of variables that interact with each other but are often treated as discrete problems to be solved independently:
- Shift work is efficient but can have an impact on sleep quality
- Positive praise and recognition has an effect on health and wellbeing outcomes
- Change management also has an effect on sleep
- Empowering the workforce to feel comfortable talking about mental health can improve health and wellbeing measures
- Time pressure can negatively influence contractor safety performance
What This Means for Safety Professionals
The conclusions of our report are based on statistically reliable correlations between "levers" for action and the outcomes associated with exercising those levers. The levers provide guidance for actions and initiatives that will help companies achieve their safety goals, ensuring a targeted use of resources and a more satisfactory return on investment.
(Learn more about Building a Business Case for Safety)
Of our 11 levers, our most recent results indicate that four in particular should be a focus for health and safety professionals.
Values and Beliefs
Promoting safety as a core value empowers workers to carry out their roles safely. It also discourages undesired behavior, like bullying and pressure to comrpomise safety to meet other goals.
Operational readiness can reduce uncertainty and risk when things need to be changed or modified. Effective consultation and communication can help with this. So does clearly linking practical changes on the job to the company goals those changes are meant serve.
At the individual level, accountability means fostering a culture of self-regulation. This reduces the need to correct workers, since they are motivated to work safely to begin with.
At the organizational level, accountability is about continuous improvement. It's taking steps to create a safer workplace instead of simply meeting compliance requirements.
Equipment and Conditions
While regular maintenance and proper use are essential to working safely with equipment and machinery, the best improvements are the ones at the engineering level. Creating accessible working environments and user-friendly industrial equipment makes working safely more intuitive and reduces the impact of human error.
Driving Safety Forward
Ensuring a safe workplace requires keeping both hands on the wheel at all times. It takes careful assessments and continuous monitoring. You need vigilance on all fronts and a proactive approach across all areas of safety.
To really drive safety forward, however, safety professionals need to focus on the four levers outlined in this article. Those are the areas that have the greatest potential and room for improvement. Devoting some additional attention and resources to them is the best way to push workplace safety even futher.
If we follow the data and concentrate our efforts where they would be most effective, we'll hopefully see safety trending upward on all measures in the coming year.