2022 workplace safety trends
If the past two years have proven anything, it’s that we can’t predict what is going to happen next. As we move forward into the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, business owners need to watch for growing business trends in several places.
Not only should they be surveying new technology and business tools, but they should also be taking a look at workplace safety trends.
During the early stages of the pandemic, a large portion of workplace safety was focused on prevention and keeping staff safe. Now trends are shifting to how companies operate in a world with COVID-19.
As you’ll see in the top seven safety trends of 2022, employees are relying on their employers to keep them safe from COVID-19 and offer support for mental health, work-life balance, and burnout.
1. Employee mental health
Over the past decade, employers have started to take a holistic approach to how they can keep their team members healthy. Instead of just focusing on maintaining a worker’s physical health, many companies are also looking at ways to keep their staff mentally healthy.
One of the most significant factors affecting mental health is stress in the workplace. Even though a multitude of things causes stress, most people admit to feeling stress from their work environment.
In fact, according to Columbia Southern University, there are generally five leading causes of employee stress and burnout. These stressors include:
- Lack of clarity in current role
- Unreasonable deadlines
- Unequal treatment amongst coworkers
- Lack of support and communication from the management team
- Project and deliverable overload
Many companies have made one of their goals for 2022 to address these five areas and find ways to alleviate some of their team’s stress.
2. Workplace safety while working remotely
Most employees don’t associate workplace accidents with working remotely. After all, we spend a large portion of our time at our homes when we are not working, so why would we need to worry when we are on the clock?
The truth is that there are still risks associated with working remotely. For example, remote workers have just as much risk, if not more, when it comes to musculoskeletal injuries and eyestrain. The increase in these two areas has to do with the fact that remote workers don’t leave their desks as much as they would in the office.
Companies are addressing safety concerns with remote workers by offering a remote workplace safety checklist. These valuable tools give workers tips on ergonomics, preventing trips and falls, and self-identifying stress and burnout.
3. Team dynamic during a pandemic
The way teams interact with each other may be one of the biggest things to change since the pandemic. Before COVID-19 happened, it was common to have every team member cram into a conference room for a weekly huddle. However, this practice has quickly changed and was replaced with virtual meetings.
Many companies have come to realize that team members can be just as productive in virtual meetings as they could in meetings in the office. Some organizations have even seen an increase in creativity and idea generation thanks to these new styles of meetings.
However, some drawbacks come with holding meetings online. For instance, meetings are easier to schedule, and as a result, there are higher levels of meeting fatigue. Workers are also reporting slightly increased levels of burnout by the end of the week.
To help address some of these issues, business owners and leadership teams have started implementing procedures that limit the number of meetings each week and encourage employees to use tools such as Slack and email for quick communication.
4. Introducing smart PPE into the workplace
By now, most of us have worn some type of PPE or personal protective equipment in the workplace. Whether they were N95 masks or some other kind of face coverings, they were necessary to ensure workplace safety during the early stages of the pandemic.
Most companies have created different protocols around whether or not employees must wear a mask at the workplace or while meeting with clients. For professionals who must wear masks at all times, such as healthcare workers, engineers, and construction teams, many organizations are moving to smart PPE in 2022.
These improved masks offer better protection for the employee while also providing essential data such as:
- Heart rate
- Blood pressure
- Blood oxygen levels
- Vital signs
Some of the newer designs even have the capability to monitor how alert a worker is and if they are feeling fatigued.
Managers are starting to use the data gathered from these smart masks to help keep their teams safe. For instance, department leads might notice that workers are getting fatigued and at risk for injury eight hours into their 12-hour shift. By implementing a break at this point, workers have a chance to rest and lower the risk of workplace injuries occurring.
5. Utilizing apps to report and track workplace accidents
An important trend in the manufacturing and construction industries, in particular, is the use of apps to help with reporting and tracking workplace accidents or near-miss accidents.
Within the last five years, organizations have been looking for a solution that will help decrease the amount of time it takes to file an accident report. Since the traditional process is manual and time-consuming, an app can help streamline the process and encourage employees to report accidents.
6. Incorporating wearable devices that allow workers to perform their job safely
Safety equipment and devices have improved to the point that new technology is helping workers perform their job and preventing workplace injuries from happening.
For instance, construction teams are now investing in hardhats with built-in proximity sensors, smart protection, and location tracking that allow team members to move about job sites safely.
Another important wearable device, seen more often in manufacturing plants, is wristwatches that can detect pressure and vibrations. This information will alert workers when pressure increases or vibrations move into dangerous levels.
7. Improving workplace safety with redundancy and resiliency
In the past, companies hired the minimum staff needed to run daily operations. However, 2022 is looking like the year of staffing redundancy and resiliency.
Organizations are now seeing value in having multiple employees who can step in and cover a project if a worker is out sick or has an emergency.
Having redundancy and resiliency in teams is another way employers address the workload that each employee has to complete. By having team members who can perform different jobs, there is more flexibility in providing support to staff members who feel overworked.
Protecting your business with workers’ comp insurance
Employers can’t prevent every accident, even with a higher focus on employees’ mental and physical health. If your organization experiences a workplace injury, it’s important that you have the proper insurance to protect your employees and your company. Often a standard workers’ compensation insurance policy will work perfectly in these situations.
Thanks for reading! Please note that this content is intended for educational purposes only. As best practices change regularly, you should refer to your trusted advisor for specific counsel. If you’re a small business owner, learn more about workplace safety or check your workers’ comp rate in 3 minutes.