The National Safety Council (NSC) would like everyone in America to talk safety this month since it is once again National Safety Month. In 2020, much of the focus has shifted to safety in the workplace and what employers and employees alike can do to stay safe.
It is no secret that the current economic crisis has put businesses of all sizes under pressure. Oftentimes, the stress a company feels is passed along to its workers through higher output demands and reduced benefits. While this strategy might help temporarily keep a business afloat, the concern is that it can cause damage to a workforce’s mental health, ultimately dropping productivity and increasing employee turnover. The combination can prove fatal for any company.
This June, the National Safety Council wants more employers and employees to think about the importance of mental health at work. Far too often, talks about workplace safety and workers’ compensation only mention physical injuries and give no attention to mental health difficulties. Anxiety and depression are among the largest health concerns in the nation, and certain job stressors can cause or worsen them. Yet mental health difficulties are secondary in most workplace safety trainings.
To help promote a workplace that recognizes and respects mental health, employers need to pay close attention to what they are asking of their employees. Truly anonymous surveys are a good way to get candid feedback from workers who might otherwise never admit to struggling mentally and emotionally at work.
Repetitive stress injuries (RSI) are common among workers who have tedious or monotonous job responsibilities. An RSI occurs when the same action is performed over and over again. Oftentimes, the action is one that requires minimal effort, but its repetition can cause strains, sprains, soreness, and other health issues.
Office workers are a high risk of suffering an RSI because most of their job is done in front of a computer and while using a keyboard. Carpal tunnel syndrome from overuse of a keyboard is a serious concern for most office workers. Chronic back pain caused by sitting in a typical office chair for long hours is also a common RSI.
Employers can help prevent repetitive stress injuries among their employees, though, by purchasing ergonomically designed office products. An item or product is “ergonomic” when it is specially designed to remain comfortable for use even after hours and hours. See if your employer can get you an ergonomic office chair if your back has been hurting or an ergonomic keyboard if your hands get tired after hours of typing.
Building a Safety Culture
In the workplace, every employee is responsible for everyone’s safety. When a workforce has accepted that shared responsibility and acts upon it, a safety culture has been built in that workplace.
How can an employer make more employees think about safety as a necessity, not just a nagging workplace requirement? The NSC and other safety organizations recommend incentivizing workplace safety through rewards and bonus programs. Maybe a pizza party funded by the company is provided at the end of every accident-free month? Or maybe an employee who thinks of a better way to perform a task safely gets a small bonus? The options are out there, and it is just a matter of an employer exploring and implementing them.
Whether you drive often for work or not, the NSC wants you to keep thinking about driving safely. National Safety Month 2020 is talking driving safety, even though this topic is always a highlight of the NSC. Why? The problem of reckless driving is still serious.
Each year, drivers distracted by smartphones or drunk from a few beers claim thousands of lives in fatal car accidents. The number of traffic collisions fluctuates each year, but there has not been a significant drop. As such, the campaign to talk about safe driving habits must continue.
Whenever you drive, put down the cellphone and pay full attention to the road. Never try to drive after drinking even just one alcoholic beverage. Pay attention to and follow all road rules, including posted speed limits. With everyone being more mindful about how they drive, we can all help drop the number of serious or fatal car accidents across the country each year.