So what can owners and managers of industrial workplaces do to reduce the risk of injury?
Traditional solutions remain relevant. Workforce education is crucial. Employees need to be drilled in comprehensive company safety and wellness plans that establish protocols not only for emergencies but for all daily activities, especially in workplaces where moving parts or other potential hazards are present. Medical clearance should be required for employees in physically demanding posts. Personal protective equipment should be mandated where appropriate (an issue that will have extra relevance in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic). Staffing levels need to be fine-tuned for safety, because overstaffing can be as hazardous as understaffing on a shop floor. Good safety behavior should be rewarded, to strengthen a culture of workplace safety.
Workplace infrastructure can also promote safety. Appropriate lighting is key—and LED lighting technology, the new standard in the industrial workplace, is much better at providing it than the orange-tinged, relatively weak high-pressure sodium lighting that’s been traditional in industrial applications. “Smart” lighting will also prove transformative in fostering workplace safety. A connected lighting system represents an ideal platform for deploying a dense network of monitoring sensors that can not only keep an eye on things, so to speak, but also generate data that helps in making good safety-related decisions.
If calculating the monetary value of workplace injuries remains an inexact science, it’s still clear that workplace injuries represent a financial drain of some magnitude. Employers have not only a moral obligation to take steps to prevent injuries, but a financial incentive, too. Workplace safety, fostered by a combination of common-sense planning, good organization, and up-to-to-the-minute technology, is an area where employers can, in fact, do quite well by doing good.