Savvy organizations understand that helping their workforce stay safe and healthy makes good business sense. With workforce injury costs averaging $1B/week, more employers are investing in employee safety and well-being to reduce expenses long term.
Changing Demographics in the Workplace
Today’s workforce brings new challenges. Employees, especially the Millennial generation making up over 1/3 of the workforce, expect employers to deliver appropriate resources to keep them safe. Whether those resources include advanced training for inexperienced young workers, protective equipment for hazardous activities, or exercise therapy for employees nearing retirement, companies are learning to accommodate employees with different capabilities and expectations.
And the numbers show the payback. A focus on prevention and early treatment can dramatically cut the number and associated costs of on-the-job injuries suffered every year. Keeping workers healthy helps increase productivity, lower worker claims costs, and minimize employee turnover.
Five Trends Affecting Workplace Safety in 2021
Here are five occupational health and safety trends to consider in 2021 to enhance your workforce's health and productivity.
Multi-generational workforce - The age-diverse workforce is growing as young workers enter the workplace while older employees put off retirement. With a workforce made up of members from 4-6 generations, organizations will need to adapt to each cohort's varying health concerns, develop injury and illness prevention programs, and minimize workplace hazards. Measures may include onsite physical therapy clinics to treat worker injuries, proactive ergonomic reviews of work activities by occupational therapists, and job redesign to accommodate varying abilities.
Telehealth/Online health services – Mobile phones have accelerated the use of digitally-based telehealth resources. The trend will continue because it’s efficient and empowers patients to manage their overall health better. Using a secure online patient portal, individuals can check on their test results, report symptoms, schedule appointments, or order medical supplies and prescription refills; they can also have video conferences with their doctor. Other examples include using online resources to learn about chronic conditions such as musculoskeletal disorders or stress, mobile phone apps to send dosage reminders or a wearable device to track daily activity.
Focus on Total Worker Health – With workers from all walks of life, companies may have employees coping with pre-existing conditions, chronic diseases, and/or musculoskeletal disorders. To keep their workforce safe and productive, many organizations will be implementing NIOSH-based Total Worker Health programs to improve employee well-being. These initiatives combine work-related safety policies and practices with proactive injury and illness prevention. As companies adopt strategies to improve employee safety and well-being, they expect to reduce worker absenteeism and turnover, improving their organization’s overall financial performance.
Increased training on safety & risk prevention –On the same theme as the Total Worker Health program, companies will invest more in proactive measures to ward off employee accidents and avoid on-the-job injuries. Safety experts recommend worker education and training as the cornerstone of any injury prevention-based program. Employees that are appropriately trained on safety protocols are less likely to become injured on the job. They’re also more likely to do the job correctly, increasing job performance.
Onsite Primary Care – In 2021, many employers will install onsite healthcare services and advanced primary care offerings. With a trusted, readily available healthcare facility at the job site, workers can access pain and discomfort treatment before their injuries become debilitating. They can also get help with chronic disease management and benefit from wellness programs.
The ROI of Improved Ergonomics and Worker Well-being
Keeping workers healthy, pain-free, and productive benefits everyone because it can increase worker productivity and job satisfaction. A recent Forbes article urges employers to “re-envision employee well-being as a powerful tool for business success,” contributing to reduced staff turnover and more motivated, engaged employees. Whether your approach centers on safety training programs, improved workplace ergonomics, or an onsite physical therapy clinic, investing in worker well-being can pay off big in 2021.
Respond to Worker Safety Trends with Workwell
With a network of 10,000 well-trained Physical and Occupational therapists, Workwell has the resources to staff onsite physical therapy clinics for our multi-national customers. WorkWell’s Easy Train program provides members with access to free online, on-demand training with highly qualified faculty and a support team to answer questions as they implement programs.