Efforts to improve workplace safety are well-intentioned but often fall short. This is because the focus is typically on traditional methods for a safe and secure workplace – clean-up spills, proper signage, and first aid equipment. Now is the time for interested stakeholders to think outside the box when it comes to making the workplace a safer location. This includes discussions and implementation on areas often forgotten. These steps can lead to a better work environment and reduce workers’ compensation program costs.
Consider Mental Health Issues Within the Workplace
Thinking about mental health-related issues in the workplace extends beyond worrying about issues of compensability of claims. All interested stakeholders need to consider the issues employee are dealing with at home and how it translates to their workplace performance:
- Marital and family issues;
- Death in the family, or birth of a child; and
- Use of tobacco, alcohol, and drugs.
Issues impacting employees when they are off the clock affect their work performance. Talking about issues related to mental health has been taboo. Now is the time to remove stigmas and provide mental health services at the workplace or readily accessible to deal with these matters and allow employees to reach their full potential.
The Remote Work Environment is Filled With Danger
The homework environment is filled with many dangers related to workers’ compensation claims. Many unresolved questions need to be addressed.
- Compensability to claims when an employee is injured while performing functions of “personal comfort;”
- Jurisdictional issues when an employee has moved to a different jurisdiction; and
- Return to work issues when the employee is so far removed from the physical work location they cannot perform functions they otherwise could if they were in the traditional work environment.
Courts within the various jurisdictions are in the process of addressing these issues. Interested stakeholders need to be mindful of traditional concerns related to safety and ensure they are being enforced.
Preparing for Extreme Weather Events
Weather events such as wildfires, tornados, hurricanes, blizzards, and flooding are some of the many “extreme weather events” that interested stakeholders need to consider. This is especially true with the rise in the remote workplace and people moving to locations more prone to these events.
- Shelter: Interested stakeholders must ensure all employees have access to a safe shelter when severe weather strikes. This includes ensuring employees now know these shelters’ locations and what to do once during these events.
- Supplies: Employees must have access to food and water during severe weather events. While most of these “shelter in place” incidents are short, employers and other interested stakeholders should prepare for the long term.
- Redundancies: Interested stakeholders should ensure integrated redecides for employees to access and use during severe weather incidents. Items that should be concerned go beyond the basics, such as medical supplies. The need for electricity to power emergency communication should include backup generators and training provided to multiple employees to assist others.
Consider Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Workplace morale is something that is often missed when talking about safety on the job. According to Dr. Tracy Brower, sociologist and author, “When we attend to the wellbeing of people, we see this pay off for the business … I think it’s here to stay. I think it’s a trend that will last, and it has enough payoff for both people and business that it will remain central and strategic for business.” This means diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) considerations are necessary in today’s workplace.
- Ensure everyone is recognized for their achievements;
- Educate everyone on circuital differences and how to overcome barriers and
- Address racism, sexism, and homophobia immediately – have a zero-tolerance policy.
When people feel safe in the workplace, they perform better.
The modern workplace is changing, as is the need for workplace safety. Mental health must be a cornerstone of every safety program for a safer and secure workplace. Interested stakeholders should also address issues related to the remote work environment, severe weather events, and issues concerning DEI. One can increase productivity and reduce workers’ compensation program costs when done correctly.
Michael Stack, CEO of Amaxx LLC, is an expert in workers’ compensation cost containment systems and provides education, training, and consulting to help employers reduce their workers’ compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is co-author of the #1 selling comprehensive training guide “Your Ultimate Guide to Mastering Workers’ Comp Costs: Reduce Costs 20% to 50%.” Stack is the creator of Injury Management Results (IMR) software and founder of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center. WC Mastery Training teaching injury management best practices such as return to work, communication, claims best practices, medical management, and working with vendors. IMR software simplifies the implementation of these best practices for employers and ties results to a Critical Metrics Dashboard.
Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/
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