Personal safety must be a priority

Personal safety must be a priority

Misconceptions about employee safety in the workplace tend to significantly impact on aspects such as employee retention, job satisfaction and financial gain (or losses) in a business, writes Daryl Wake, Business Development, Universal Site Monitoring. Safety remains a paramount concern for the industrial sector worldwide, with growing expectations from stakeholders, employees and regulators and a need for technological advancements in safety devices which offer robust communication capability and complex integration systems is required.  

For hundreds of years too many people have adopted the common perception of “accidents will happen no matter what precautions we take”. This mentality has perilously tended to drive workers to take more accountability of their own casualties at work, however the creation of, and commitment to, a safe working environment should be not only a priority for the business owner but also the foremost responsibility of the business. Safe working practices and associated obligations, require continuous effort, attention to detail and careful planning.

The annual Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index documents the top ten causes of the most serious workplace injuries – those causing an employee to miss five or more days from work – and ranks them by their direct cost to employers, which consists of medical and lost-wage payments.   

The 2019 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index1 is the first to also report the causes and costs of the most serious workplace injuries for eight specific industries that account for a high proportion of all national workplace injuries including manufacturing, construction, wholesale  and transportation & warehousing.

“This helps employers, risk managers and safety professionals improve workplace safety by highlighting its financial impact in total and for specific industries,” notes James Merendino, General Manager, Risk Control, National Insurance, Liberty Mutual. “To better protect employees and the bottom line, each employer needs to understand the root causes of the most serious workplace injuries they face.  Only then can they effectively mitigate and manage these through work design, system controls, technology, training, and strategic risk management.  

The Index also revealed that workplace injuries cost companies in the US over $1billion per week.

Elsewhere in research conducted by Liberty Mutual it was shown that over $1 invested in an injury prevention returned $2 or more. Investing in safety programmes not only gives a return on investment but also saves thousands of dollars which may be paid in case of any accident. In short, there is no doubt that investing in safety programmes will save valuable time, money and resources, and safeguard the well-being of, and ultimately the lives of, workers.

As improvements, and advances,  in safety devices are made through technological innovation, there is a constant
need for industries to adapt to, and adopt, them in order to preserve the welfare of their workforces and the health of the commercial interests.

In recent years, manufacturers and specialists in personal safety products have made user friendly devices a priority. Wearable technology which aims to detect workplace hazards along with multiple applications are being made to lessen the risk of workers becoming casualties. Personal safety monitors are being developed which protect workers by providing the control room with a real time oversight of the overall wellbeing of their people in any industrial setting and designed to protect employees against fatal workplace injuries caused due to excessive gas exposure, poor communication systems, or a lack of information from decision makers in timing, data collection and promulgation. 

Controllers can now gain access to real time data and comprehensively investigate the cause of an alarm going off by using GPS location information. Systems traditionally gather information on machinery, plants and equipment and alert control rooms on their status but it is now possible to bring real time data about people apart from machinery and plant into the control room. 

The ultimate safety tool to prevent workers from multiple risks evolving in the workplace regardless of job, industry or working conditions. 

Ideally, devices are proactive in nature which will prevent accidents which might occur, by alerting the workers in cases of gas leakages, intolerable noise levels and ambient temperatures in one device. One such, the PSM Hero is ATEX certified, and combines real time communication, detection of gas leakage, operational surveillance, trips and falls, health measures and other location specific data connected via Bluetooth devices. It can also be used in areas rated as Zone 1 hazardous in petrochemical facilities. 

Bluetooth ambient temperature detection can now provide visual warning to the worker through real time data and this feature is being added to firefighter protective clothing (PPE). PPE when connected with PSM will send ambient temperature data preventing workers from being exposed to extreme temperatures and maintaining overall safety of the environment. 

Ideally, the optimum safety device should be flexible, adaptable and resilient across all sectors and industries in extreme environmental conditions. 

As technology evolves, safety devices working on reactive approaches will be replaced further revolutionising the style in which companies protect their most valuable assets – their workforce.