New Skills are Required to Prepare for Future Risks

Written and published by the British Safety Council, India on 3 Sept 2021.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way organisations function, and at the same time, it has heightened the significance of workplace health and safety programs for a business’s success. This facet is especially true for Indian workplaces, many of which already lack adequate EHS programs. As a result, Indian organisations have realised the importance of integrated and upgraded workplace safety programs into their business operations.

One of the most effective ways of integrating health and safety into a business’s operations is by equipping the employees with appropriate competencies to safely and health-consciously operate in the workplace. By enabling employees to protect themselves physically and mentally, organisations can transform their safety culture by making it more people-centric and crowd-sourced, and eventually, improving business productivity and employee retention.

Workplace Safety Challenges

Indian workplaces at the moment face several challenges when it comes to workplace safety. These factors tend to directly impact the employees, either physically or mentally, and new health and safety skills can help mitigate these risks significantly. Following are some of the most common challenges faced by Indian workplaces.

Changing Work Environment

Within the past few years, even barring the pandemic, the workplaces have seen drastic changes. These include better technology and machines, improved workplace architecture, heightened health and safety norms, and a lot more. However, the ageing workplace has not completely adopted these changes, which can drastically affect their health and safety.

An Ageing Workforce

The current workforce is ageing, and there is a rise in hiring younger, less experienced workers. While these young workers may have the right qualifications, they lack a practical understanding of the work processes, especially in an industrial setting, and may not take workplace safety seriously. This can be a challenge for organisations that want to uphold their safety culture.

Economic Unpredictability

Another factor, which is affecting workplace safety culture, is unpredictability. Over the last 12 months, India has seen two lockdowns and multiple restrictions, which has affected Indian workplaces drastically. This uncertainty seems to be continuing further and is predicted to continue for the next couple of years, making it difficult for organisations to make concrete decisions that transform the company culture.

New Skills Required to Tackle Challenges

The pandemic and consequent challenges to the Indian workplaces denote workplace culture change’s vitality to protect employees’ physical and mental health. Here, organisations can work closely with a safety audit and consultation agency to help them upgrade their safety culture and integrate new skills into their employees.

There are various skills that organisations can focus on and enable their employees to learn and implement these skills in their daily work-life. Below are some of the skills that such organisations can focus on:

Workplace Ergonomics

According to the American OSHA, 34% of workplace injuries are ergonomics-related, costing organisations nearly USD 50 billion per year. Thus, organisations must teach their employees how to practice safe, ergonomic hygiene, including lifting, sitting, or moving throughout the day. This would lead to fewer sick leaves, lowered healthcare costs, and healthier employees.

Environmental Safety Skills

Similarly, organisations must also focus on training the employees on environmental safety within the workplace to mitigate workplace risks. Here, many organisations simply ask the employees to carry out safety-related tasks that they may not completely understand; instead, a skill-building exercise can help make safety second nature. Environmental safety skills include material storage and disposal, electrical safety, and general office safety hygiene.

Equipment Safety Skills

Another skill set that organisations must focus on developing within their workforce is equipment safety. With the rise in technology, modern workplaces are populated with specialised equipment requiring specific training to handle safely. If the employees are skilled in using the equipment safely, the company can benefit from fewer workplace accidents.

Cybersecurity Skills

Modern workplaces, especially considering the new work-from-home model, rely heavily on technology. However, such technology is often prone to cyberattacks, which may lead to loss of productivity or data leaks in most cases. But in some cases, it can significantly affect the employees’ mental health or affect the performance of critical systems that may then affect the employees’ well-being. So, the company must invest in developing cybersecurity skillsets for their employees.

Mental Health Skills

Mental health—stress and burnout in particular—is one of the most significant factors that lead to workplace accidents. Stress or burnout in the worker may lack focus, cut corners, or suffer other health-related concerns that may cause workplace injuries.  

Instil Workplace Safety Skills with British Safety Council

To instil the right skillsets that lead to an improved workplace safety culture, organisations must focus on four primary facets of workplace safety:

  • The organisation must understand the needs of the employees and their expectations.
  • It must make the safety culture pragmatic, accessible, and applicable for all.
  • It should hold everyone accountable.
  • The safety culture and skillsets must be mobile and adaptive to meet the changing needs of the current workplace environment.

British Safety Council can help organisations achieve this goal with our workplace safety culture audit and consultation services. Contact us to know more.