Workplace safety is not only required by law, but it helps increase worker morale and productivity. Companies have a lot to gain by going beyond OSHA requirements and addressing employee workplace safety in new, innovative ways.
These technologies are leading the way to new safety strategies that help prevent accidents, and increase the ability of employers to do their job without harm to the rank and file.
1. Zero-harm systems
Zero-harm refers to new workplace data systems designed to prevent all injuries, all the time. Older systems worked on injury reduction, but often operated with the assumption that a certain number of injuries would inevitably happen, especially in fairly dangerous industries.
New zero-harm cultures seek to prevent any accidents whatsoever. The goal for these new systems is analysis of the primary causes of injury, such as faulty materials, mistakes in production procedures, employee laziness or stress, and any other factors that eventually cause injury.
2. Observance data
Observance data refers to analysis that takes accident prevention to the next level. It seeks to uncover all the factors that contribute to accidents, using new types of data collection. Instead of focusing on accidents or injuries, observance data focuses on near-accidents, employee opinions on safety, and uncovering accidents that had little impact on the environment and so were never reported.
Of course, observance data is an important factor in zero-harm systems.
3. Better monitoring devices
In years past, monitoring devices only allowed for basic air quality monitoring; they detected smoke or dangerous gas levels in specific factory settings. Now, monitoring devices are growing more mobile and more flexible.
Companies are taking steps such as giving employees radio tags to wear that allow managers to track employee locations in case of a serious accident. This helps decrease response time, particularly during evacuations.
4. Automatic responses
Automatic response systems use software to make instant decisions in case of an emergency. This applies to alarms that send immediate reports and calls for help, but it also includes a much broader range of control systems that are run by computers. Robotics and computerized controls remove employees from the most dangerous production steps.
5. New ergonomics and environment protocols
Greater understanding of ergonomics has led to a whole new section of the employee handbook dealing with proper posture, stretches to relieve tension, and safe ways to complete physical tasks. Perhaps even more important, they have also governed the decisions managers make when buying chairs, desks, and desktop computers.
Choices that include smart ergonomic features have grown more common as the ongoing comfort of employees rises in importance.