Top Safety Risks to Mitigate in the Age of Endemic Covid
The Omicron wave might be ebbing. What comes next remains to be seen. Indeed, some epidemiologists are speculating on endemic infection. And so, employers who were previously promised eradication must factor endemic COVID into their overall safety picture. What are the other top safety threats to consider?
Well, employee wellbeing issues are on the rise; and it’s not just anxiety and depression from non-workplace factors, either. Analysts are also seeing an uptick in instances of bullying in the workplace.
Underreporting makes it hard to quantify how pervasive the issue really is. Nevertheless, the number of serious workplace injuries related to bullying and harassment nearly doubled over the course of the 2010s.
Think it doesn’t matter? Well, workplace bullying is one of the leading causes of work-related mental stress.
That stress lowers morale and productivity, which then result in higher turnover and early retirement payouts.
Not just that. Organisations with public bullying incidents also experience significant loss of reputation.
And they can be hit with financial penalty from the claims that ensue.
Those claims hit hard. A 2018 Productivity Commission report showed that workplace bullying costs the Australian economy up to 36 billion every year.
Then, there’s the perennial risk of workplace accidents.
The International Labour Organisation estimates that some 2.3 million workers around the globe succumb to work-related accidents or diseases every year, corresponding to more than 6,000 deaths every day.
Another hangover from the pre-COVID era is extreme weather.
This threat should come as no surprise to business leaders. After all, last year saw 47-billion-dollar weather disasters.
As these catastrophes continue to break grim records, business leaders will have to do their part to protect employees.
Strategies to keep employees safe in 2022
But what can they do?
Well, strategies to keep employees safe are manifold – from the basics of developing or updating extreme weather crisis plans, including regular staff training on natural disaster and emergency evacuation procedures, to the less intuitive doubling down on the maintenance of heating and cooling systems and more rigorously enforcing hazard checks.
For its part, international safety management system standard ISO 45001 calls for drastically more robust emergency preparedness and response measures, urging safety leaders to do more to anticipate, prevent, or minimise risk from potential emergencies.
Per that standard, steps to take include:
- Identify and plan for potential emergency situations; integrate emergency exercises into your safety management system
- Prepare a planned response to emergency situations, such as bomb threats, terrorist attacks, active shooter incidents, or natural disasters
- Periodically test and exercise emergency response capabilities
- Evaluate and revise emergency preparedness measures, especially after the occurrence of emergency situations
- Provide relevant information to all members of the organisations regarding their duties and responsibilities during an emergency event
- Provide emergency prevention, preparedness, and response training
- Communicate information to contractors, visitors, relevant emergency response services, government authorities, and the local community
Unfortunately, implementing these strategies will only scratch the surface of what organisations can do.
After all, safety leaders will not only have to get serious about managing every aspect of their HSE programs with the right work safety software platform, but they will also need to understand where other safety risks lie.
What are those risks? Download our guide to the top safety management threats of 2022 to find out.