2020 has been a year of challenges and change, particularly when it comes to workplace health and safety. “Business as usual” simply doesn’t exist anymore and there aren’t many, if any, industries that haven’t been impacted by COVID-19.
As such, the way businesses operate is changing immensely and business owners are learning to adapt their business practices. When it comes to safety management, it’s crucial that business owners understand what’s happening with their employees, assets and the environment (both internally and externally).
While some systems already exist, many businesses are working on adapting these to suit the current health crisis. They are also adopting new innovations that can not only assist with current workplace health and safety measures, but also help in the future.
The following are some of the most prominent measures of workplace health and safety we can expect to see in 2021 and beyond.
Personal protection equipment (PPE)
There are more industries adopting personal protection equipment (PPE) than ever before and respiratory devices in particular have been flying off the shelves. PPE not only protects the wearer from spreading germs, but also from being exposed to them. Although they have been traditionally used in hospitals or trades environments, we’re now seeing PPE in most working environments, from masks and eye protection, to gloves.
Some companies are even adopting smart PPE, incorporating wearable sensors and communication devices that can track employee movements, sense contaminants in the environment, and warn staff to leave an area that isn’t deemed safe. They can even warn staff who are not following social distancing protocol. It’s all done through AI and sophisticated software – and it’s becoming more commonplace.
Along with PPE, safety workwear has also made an impact on workplaces. Safety clothing, including boots, not only protects workers from contamination, but also from injury, as well as allowing workers to remain comfortable and protected. It has always been standard practice on many job sites, but we’re seeing more prevalence across a broader range of industries.
To keep up with the demand, manufacturers are also embracing different technologies to create more resilient fabrics. One example is Tencel, which is made from eucalyptus pulp or wood-based fibrous material, designed to strengthen clothes. It also makes them more resistant to the dangers of industrial environments. Other fabrics such as OKEO-TEX are tested against hazardous chemicals to ensure they’re as strong as required for all types of industry.
Artificial intelligence (AI)
Having the right workplace safety isn’t the same as it used to be, and AI is an innovation that’s moving to the forefront in COVID-19 times, and it’s never been more important.
Although it’s not as prevalent in Australia as it is overseas, we’re seeing technology that is changing the way office buildings and other workplaces operate.
For example, some kiosks can not only scan people’s faces to determine their identity – but can even detect their temperature to ensure they don’t have a fever commonly associated with the symptoms of COVID-19. Some systems are so advanced they work even when someone is wearing a mask.
Health and safety of the mind
Lockdowns, social isolation, working from home while also homeschooling – all of these have had an impact on mental health and it’s been a challenging year, to say the least. Business owners, however, realise this (perhaps more than anyone), and as such, they’re incorporating new innovations into their workplace that are designed to keep the mind healthy.
It could be as simple as implementing more outdoor work, or even the provision of high-tech bike helmets that promote exercise. It’s essential for businesses to recognise that there are psychological hazards and risks, and to manage workloads and develop policies to suit.
Applying the right technologies will help businesses deal with COVID-19 effectively. Thanks to the innovations of safety equipment providers, like RSEA Safety, every industry is covered and the future is more promising.
This partner content was brought to you by RSEA. For more information, please visit www.rsea.com.au.