Woman working in warehouseEmployers are taking a more proactive approach to injuryprevention, demonstrating a stronger commitment to employeewell-being. (Photo: Shutterstock)

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According to the National Safety Council, a worker is injured onthe job every seven seconds. Furthermore, work-relatedinjuries now cost companies an estimated 104,000,000 productionhours each year.

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Those are pretty sobering statistics. And, they tell the storyof where we're at with workplace safety as 2019 comes to aclose.

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Yes, worker safety is now front and center. As a result, manyare taking a more proactive approach to injury prevention andtreatment that demonstrates a stronger commitment to employeewell-being.

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Related: What does climate change mean for workersafety?

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But workplace safety is about productivity, too. As the information abovedemonstrates, workplace injuries often mean lost work days and lostproduction days. So, whether it's a manufacturing firm or atraditional office environment, employers are increasingly awarethat addressing work and non-work-related physical capabilities ofemployees optimizes their workforce and lowers the cost of injuryand illness. It just makes good business sense.

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As the focus on workplace safety has increased, so too has thefocus on trends and what to keep your eye on in the year ahead. Aswe look toward 2020, I'm starting to see a few different workplacesafety trends emerge that will impact many industries and businesssectors. Based on my recent conversations with clients andcolleagues, below are three key trends I see affecting manyorganizations in the next year.

1. Personalization will get more "personal"

Personalization is a big buzzword right now. Everyone is talkingabout how to personalize health and well-being experiences atcompanies across the country. And, not surprisingly, technology isa big factor in that conversation as there are many tools that canaid in that process. However, human interaction should not beunder-emphasized—especially when it comes to personalizing injuryprevention and treatment programs.

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For example, one large manufacturing firm we work with has beenseeing challenges with sprain and strain injuries among new hires.They added a third shift at one of their production sites. As theyplanned for this addition, their goal was to reduce the incidenceof musculoskeletal disorders. One solution to address thischallenge and help meet that goal was to implement a "high-touch"approach featuring seven full-time associates that seamlesslyintegrated with union leadership, operations supervisors and onsitemedical staff.

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These onsite safety professionals conducted work conditioningprograms, lineside coaching and First Aid and early intervention.This personalized and high-touch approach yielded significantresults, decreasing sprains and strains and immediately positivelyimpacted production.

2. From specialized to generalized

Years ago, safety professionals had fairly focused jobs. Theyspecialized in one or two areas. However, in 2020 we will continueto see more safety professionals taking on many more roles andareas of responsibility. As more companies streamline operationsand downsize teams, a greater number of safety professionals arebeing asked to do much more than just one area of focus (i.e.,fire, security, environmental).

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In the year ahead, more safety professionals will overseebroader scopes and assume more areas of responsibility than everbefore—and they'll be more generalized in their approaches. The keywill be for HR teams and leaders to steer safety professionalstoward tools and resources that they can integrate into theworkplace and help improve worker lives.

3. A broader view of employee well-being

The last couple years have seen a big shift toward a morecomprehensive approach to well-being that goeswell beyond physical health. In fact, many companies are embracingthe concept of Total Worker Health as defined by the NationalInstitute for Occupational Health (NIOSH). This holisticapproach to employee well-being integrates safety and healthprotection with injury and illness. It's a multi-faceted approachthat includes social, emotional, financial and environmentaldimensions of health.

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This notion of Total Worker Health takes a broader view ofworker well-being and encourages a more proactive approach tooverall health and wellness. As I look ahead to 2020, I believeemployers and HR teams will increasingly adopt this Total WorkerHealth approach as they think about employee well-being.

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So, there you have it—three big trends I'm seeing in workplacesafety as we head into 2020. Keep these mind as you finalize yourplans for the year ahead and work to create and foster a healthyand productive work environment for your employees.

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Nicole Chaudet is the executive director,product execution, with HealthFitness, a Trustmark company. She ischarged with leading the team that takes new products, services andproduct enhancements to market. She has been delivering employeewellbeing programs and solutions, both on-site and in aconsultative role, for more than 20 years. She has served inseveral roles at HealthFitness, including program manager, fitnessoperations and regional director.


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