Positive Workplace Safety Trends for 2016
As industries wind up for 2016 and we wish everyone a safe and prosperous year, it’s opportune to look at a few international safety trends. What’s on the horizon in workplace safety to help us stay out of trouble in the year (and years) to come? Well, most global trends centre on personal protection equipment (PPE). Not a bad thing as we try to find ways to keep workers effectively and comfortably protected throughout the working day.
The current PPE problem
Internationally, the performance of each piece of PPE has been monitored separately. In other words its safety performance has been considered in complete isolation, not relative to other PPE that may be worn at the same time. So protective eyewear or a carefully maintained flammable liquid storage cabinet may work brilliantly on its own, but add a respirator, or protective coat and gloves and suddenly you’ve got multiple pieces of equipment competing for the same limitedspace. Hopeless; no wonder PPE ends up on the factory floor when such avoidable cases of incompatibility are going on.
Better PPE for all
Now international health and safety experts and PPE manufacturers are starting to collaborate to create compatible safety equipment and give workers the level of comfort they need to wear equipment all day without protest. And that means respirators designed to not only work with other PPE, but fit unusual face shapes. It means hearing protection that actually sympathises with ear canals and is comfortable for long periods. And it means hard hats that are lightweight and as comfortable as a cap.
PPE is getting automated
Imagine this: A worker arrives at work, swipes a pre-programmed card in a vending machine and the machine automatically dispenses the appropriate PPE for their job. The equipment dispensed is then logged for that employer and department and tracked to flag replenishment when stocks reach a minimum level. Such automated PPE innovations will drastically reduce the time and cost of managing PPE stocks and help companies make sure the right workers are getting the right PPE at all times.
Safety is getting serious
In 2016 global safety experts are pushing for ISO standards to be implemented across all markets and not just the likes of the USA, UK and Australia. And while it’s nice to know we’re at the forefront of workplace health and safety as a country, individual companies still need to focus on their own safety procedures, be they large operations or small.
Are we using effective risk management procedures to stop accidents before they happen? Are we doing all we can to stop all those niggly back injuries that cost us so dearly? And are we adapting, moving and shaking with the times to give our workers the safest workplace we can? Even the smallest factories and warehouses can greatly enhance their safety record by embracing the latest risk management techniques and materials handling technology.
After all, the same principle applies whether we have two employees or two hundred; a safe workforce is a productive workforce.