Workplace safety is a top concern for most employers. Even prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, workplace accidents were all too common. Compared to heavy industry, warehouses and other logistical operations, offices are a relatively safe working environment, but they do present some dangers that can lead to injury. During 2019/20, there were 693,000 workplace injuries reported.
The largest category of workplace injury was slipping, trips or falls on the same level, followed by lifting and handling issues. Both of these injuries can and do occur in office spaces. Trips, slips and incidents are not just something to be accepted as part and parcel of working life, they can prove significant for the people involved.
With the Covid-19 pandemic, a new, unseen, threat to office safety has presented itself. Increasingly, data-driven solutions to office safety challenges are being implemented across workplaces to combat these threats.
Office Safety Needs Data
To fully get to grips with workplace safety issues you need to understand why accidents are happening. There can be many underlying causes of workplace accidents, such as poor management, systemic failure and a lack of training. With Covid-19, there is little room for error as the virus can take advantage of any weaknesses in your safety protocols and procedures.
Without understanding the causation of incidents, you can’t get to grips with what’s driving the problem and how it might be ameliorated. Incidents should be recorded, and the data analysed for indications as to how, when and where accidents are taking place. There are a number of health and safety software packages available that enable you to easily collate incident data and monitor health and safety compliance.
Here are three ways in which an analytical, data-driven mindset can help increase workplace safety:
- Understand the issues
What is the current state of safety in your office design? Are accidents happening on a regular basis? Is the lost time severity rate increasing or decreasing and at what rate? What locations in your workplace are seeing the largest number of incidents?
- What issues are driving accidents and incidents?
Office accidents rarely happen in isolation, so your next step is to try and uncover possible causes. Examine the incidents that are happening and who they are happening to. Are new employees experiencing more issues for instance? That might indicate there’s an issue with induction processes.
- Are any groups of staff experiencing a higher rate of safety challenges?
To create the most effective safety strategy for your workplace you need to concentrate your efforts where they are needed most. Compare employees by role, location in the building and their daily routine. Are accidents occurring more among some groups of staff than others? If so, why might this be? Is it something particular to that role or is there any particular management or work culture issue that’s driving the problem?
Good Data Matters Now More than Ever
Workplace health and safety data is now more important than ever. Covid-19 presents a clear set of challenges to workplace organisation and working practices. Even with wide-scale vaccine rollout smaller, localised outbreaks are still likely.
Monitoring the Covid-19 status of your employees will be vital. We’re likely to see lateral flow tests playing an important role. Employers will need to act quickly to shut down and isolate any Covid-19 breakouts that occur in the workplace and also have the right environment in place to facilitate this effectively.