Building a Positive Safety Culture

World Day for Safety and Health at Work, an international awareness day that focuses attention on the magnitude of work-related injuries, diseases and fatalities worldwide, will take place on April 28. Observed by the International Labour Organization (ILO) since 2003, the event’s focus this year is on participation and social dialogue in creating a positive safety and health culture.

Per the ILO, a strong Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) culture at the workplace is one in which:

→ the right to a safe and healthy working environment is valued and promoted by both management and workers
→ workers feel comfortable raising concerns about possible OSH risks or hazards in the workplace
→ management is proactive in collaborating with workers to find appropriate, effective and sustainable solutions
→ there is open communication and dialogue built on trust and mutual respect

The organization cites that in workplaces that are promoting workers’ engagement while implementing a positive OSH culture there are:

→ 64% fewer safety incidents
→ 58% fewer hospitalizations

Employee Engagement Fortifies a Culture of Safety

The topic of creating a positive safety culture is one we’re always exploring with organizations using wearable technology to augment their safety programs and fortify their safety cultures. While wearables provide data and insights that help them to reduce workplace injury rates, they also help reinforce a positive culture of safety by empowering employees to engage in the safety process.

In a recent webinar with SullivanCurtisMonroe Insurance Services, our CEO Haytham Elhawary spoke with Craig Perkins, HR and Safety Manager at McMaster-Carr, about wearables, safety culture and employee engagement. Craig shared how engaging employees with a wearable safety program can be an integral part of a safety culture that is committed to leading indicators.

Last year, Haytham spoke with PepsiCo Inc.’s then Global Vice President of Environment, Health and Safety, Cormac Gilligan, about how wearable tech is engaging employees and driving culture change in their Frito-Lay division. When the company distributed wearable devices among manufacturing employees to alert them of high risk postures performed on the job, employees began initiating new conversations about the way they move and even proposing solutions to management. 

In a recent article examining the use of wearable technology in construction, JLG Industries Safety Manager Ashley Metz also noted how wearables are affecting the company’s safety culture through employee participation. She said, “The team has personal influence in their behaviors with how they are approaching a lift or a reaching posture.”

Since the introduction of wearable safety tech, big companies, like JLG and PepsiCo, have reaped the benefits with reduced injuries, lowered claims costs and strengthened safety cultures. Now, as wearables become more widely adopted and distributed, middle market companies are seeking the same tech-driven safety solutions for their employees. Wearables are just as effective at building positive safety cultures among smaller groups of employees as they are for Fortune 500 sized organizations. Like any other form of PPE, they are easy to implement and can achieve incredible results in injury reduction and safety awareness.

Insurance Can Do More for Safety Culture

Insurance carriers can do more to help companies be proactive in preventing injuries and reinforcing good safety culture. For the past 60 years, workers’ comp insurance has been primarily transactional, focused on covering costs after injuries occur. Minimal loss control efforts haven’t changed in decades. Furthermore, claims costs are often passed on to policyholders in future periods to protect carriers’ own balance sheets.  

Now, select carriers are evolving to provide predictive-based risk management in order to lower losses, and create future premium savings for the policyholder. By including safety technology like wearables in their offerings at no extra cost, carriers are helping policyholders to reduce injuries and claims, and to engage employees in the safety process. 

World Day for Safety and Health at Work is a perfect opportunity for insurance professionals and employers alike to explore how wearable tech can enhance safety culture. Wearables can serve as an important tool, empowering workers to take control of their own safety and participate in productive feedback as a team – a key aspect of a thriving safety culture.