April 25, 2018
Many employers are committed to protecting and enhancing the safety and health of their employees. Workplace accidents not only hurt employees, they cost employers as well. Historically, the effort to protect worker safety and health has been a divided process. Efforts have been made to assure a safe and healthful work environment. These include providing safety guards on machinery and personal protective equipment for workers, as well as performing activities such as safety and health inspections, training, and periodic toolbox talks.
Efforts have also been made to create wellness programs that provide lifestyle improvement, such as smoking cessation, education on proper nutrition, and employee assistance programs.
From Coping to Thriving
A new report from the Campbell Institute states that worker safety and health protection is better served by using a more multifaceted approach. The study discusses moving beyond the coping model, where the responsibility for balancing the pressures of home life and work stresses are entirely on the individual. This transitions to a thriving model, where the workplace assumes some responsibility in creating a positive culture in which individuals can thrive. They provide a systems approach to assessing and addressing total worker health and wellbeing.
Measurable Outcomes and Continuous Improvement
The report suggests using a concept of continuous improvement. Through this, a Plan Do Check Act model will enable safety and health activities to be targeted at strategic, measurable outcomes. It allows for integrated health and safety strategies to be used across organizational, personal, and occupational activities. Through considering physical, mental, emotional, social, and economic health, and developing targeted strategies for improvement, it will be possible to enhance overall worker wellbeing and prevent work-related injuries and illnesses.
The following are steps in the model:
- Plan: Analyze information, solicit ideas, and select the best plan for improvement
- Do: Implement the plan as a pilot program or fully deployed program
- Check: Gather information to verify that the desired effects of change are realized
- Act: Sustain gains made and make course corrections as needed
Effective use of the model will enable employers to identify top problem areas and develop strategies to address them. Continuous improvements can then be seen by verifying success and making changes to improve performance. Not all employers are pursuing cutting edge approaches to employee safety and health. Even those employers who are making such efforts are not always entirely successful.
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