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Workplace safety trends for 2020

By Nicole Chaudet, Executive Director, Product Execution, HealthFitness

According to the National Safety Council, a worker is injured on the job every seven seconds. These injuries, while obviously negatively affecting employees, can also significantly impact a company’s productivity. Regardless of the setting—from a labor-intensive to an office environment, employers are increasingly recognizing that addressing the work and non-work related physical capabilities of employees can optimize their workforce and lower the cost of injury and illness.

Fortunately, companies across all industries realize that safety must constantly be an on-the-job priority and that a proactive approach to injury prevention and treatment demonstrates a strong commitment to employee wellbeing and is good for the bottom line. Based on what I’ve been hearing from industry peers and seeing at client locations all throughout the country, here are three workplace safety trends I envision playing out significantly in 2020 and most likely, beyond.

Safety professionals continuing to wear many hats
When picturing a safety professional, you might conjure up an image of someone walking through a manufacturing setting with purpose while wearing protective headgear. But the reality is much more nuanced and safety professionals do in fact wear many figurative hats. With streamlining and downsizing becoming increasingly common, regardless of industry, the days of safety specializing in a certain category (fire, security, environmental, etc.) have become a thing of the past. Safety professionals are tasked with more and more responsibilities and are more generalized in their respective approaches. It is up to us as an industry to help steer them towards the tools and resources that will help them succeed.

Greater adoption of Total Worker Health
At HealthFitness, we adopt a “Total Worker Health” concept defined by The National Institute for Occupational Health (NIOSH)—a holistic approach to employee wellbeing that integrates safety and health protection with injury and illness. In our industry we’ve seen a shift toward a more complete approach to wellbeing that goes beyond physical health and includes social, emotional, financial and environmental dimensions. I believe the concept of Total Worker Health very much aligns with this way of thinking and will become adopted by increasingly more employers who are looking for ways they can truly take care of their employees.

Increasing importance of high-touch, in addition to high tech
We recently conducted research on wellness program participation and found that technology, although crucially important, is only one piece of the puzzle. Health is personal and when it comes to their own wellbeing employees seek a highly personalized experience. I’ve seen this dynamic firsthand with our injury prevention and treatment programs and expect it to continue well into the future.

One example that comes to mind is a large manufacturer client who had historical challenges around an increase in sprains and strains with new hires. They were adding a third shift at one of their production sites and wanted to get ahead and reduce the incidence of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). Our solution was to implement a “high-touch” approach featuring seven full-time associates that seamlessly integrated with union leadership, operations supervisors and onsite medical staff.

Our onsite Injury Prevention and Treatment professionals conducted work conditioning programs, lineside coaching and first aid/early intervention. This comprehensive approach yielded significant results that immediately impacted production.

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Contact us to learn more about our Injury Prevention and Treatment programs.

About the author: 

As Executive Director, Product Execution, Nicole is charged with leading the team that takes new products, services and product enhancements to market. She has been delivering employee wellness programs and solutions, both on-site and in a consultative role, for more than 20 years. She has served in several roles at HealthFitness, including program manager, fitness operations and regional director.


Posted on October 14, 2019 in Injury Prevention