Four safety megatrends for 2022

The Top 4 Safety Megatrends That You Should be Watching in 2022

By Eric Michrowski

As the new year rolls around, top safety leaders look for ideas to level up their safety strategy to ensure that all their team members come home safely to their loved ones. I recently sat down with Eduardo Lan, Dr. Josh Williams and Martin Royal on the Safety Guru Podcast to explore with them the top four safety megatrends that, in our collective opinion, deserve our attention in 2022. 

#1 Returning to the Workplace while Factoring Mental Health, Stress, and Fatigue into your Safety Strategy

The pandemic has caused immense pressure on mental health and sleeping patterns as 2 in 3 Americans find their sleeping routines derailed. If you’re distracted, fatigued, or stressed, it is an invitation for safety risk. Additionally, increasing research is pointing to the link between mental health and workplace injuries.

Two key considerations should be incorporated into your strategy. First, start bridging the divide between mental health and safety, recognizing how Safety and Wellbeing initiatives can complement each other to improve safety performance. Too often, these are being driven in separate parts of the organization without the necessary connection points. A focus on Actively Caring and conducting regular check-ins with team members helps improve safety and support wellbeing initiatives.

Second, as workplaces return to a new normal, it is imperative to embed all the positive successes that have been driven over the past two years to improve safety culture. I outlined a simple process to reflect and embed such best practices in a recent article in Forbes

#2 Focus on Serious Injury & Fatality (SIF) by Incorporating Human and Organizational Performance

High-performing safety organizations have adopted many practices from Human and Organizational Performances (HOP), recognizing that human error is inevitable but preventable. Many of the improvements to safety performance in the aviation industry can be credited to a focus on understanding and reducing the impact of Human Error. 

As Josh shared, it’s essential for organizations to start shifting their focus towards a deeper understanding of ways to eradicate Serious Injuries and Fatalities (SIFs). Focusing on injury reduction won’t necessarily reduce the drivers of SIFs, which are often different.

To achieve this, a good first step is to begin integrating some of the key principles of HOP within existing safety programs such as Behavior-Based Observations. That’s where BeHOP comes in as the combination of Behavior-Based Safety (BBS) and HOP. 

The challenge is that too often traditional observations are poorly rolled out and are focused on complex checklists instead of coaching conversations. BeHOP shifts the focus back onto the conversation while also increasing the focus on risk awareness and broader system challenges that impact safety. This gives an opportunity to “level-up” the focus on SIF reduction. 

#3 Becoming a Hyper-Speed Learning Organization

Another common trait of high-performing safety organizations is their obsession with hyper-speed learning. In other words, they are constantly seeking to better understand their operations to improve safety performance. These organizations move beyond learning from safety incidents. They are obsessively trying to unearth every potential near miss and encourage everyone to look critically at hazards and opportunities to improve safety while also recognizing that you can never have safety “covered”.

Once they identify opportunities, these organizations rapidly solve and implement changes, check to ensure the improvements had the intended effect and embed the change into their business.

This is important for two reasons: (1) it allows learning from events that could have significant implications before they reoccur, and (2) it allows for learning even before an incident occurs by seeing improvement before they ever develop serious consequences. 

As Martin shared, speed is of the essence in the learning process. A focus on communication between teams, decreasing fear in the learning process and a focus on eradicating possible risks is of the essence to implement hyper-speed learning. 

#4 Safety Coaching is One Investment Everyone Should Make 

While it would be easy to assume that front-line safety culture training would be the best investment to reduce injuries, supervisors often have the greatest influence on the safe choices of front-line team members. Yet, this is often the group that receives the least investment in safety leadership.

Eduardo shared with us the four essential skills that supervisors need to master to drive higher levels of safety performance:

  • Delegate safe work 
  • Acknowledge safe work 
  • Redirect unsafe work 
  • Engage their teams to work safely

You may ask, how does this benefit you in the long run? Delegating safe work pushes team members to reflect on hazards and ways to mitigate these prior to starting work. Acknowledging and celebrating safe work will promote safe behaviors and increase thoughts about safety. Redirecting unsafe work is one of the most critical tools to help shift behaviors while directly reducing hazards. It has been shown to be directly correlated with improvements in safety performance. Engaging with teams helps foster an environment that encourages safety participation and increases personal ownership for safety. 

These are four themes to explore as you embark on your New Year keeping everyone safe! For more details on these megatrends, tune in to this episode of the Safety Guru Podcast!

At Propulo, we work with leaders to create robust Safety Culture and improve their Safety Performance to the next level.

Listen to the Episode

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