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Well-Being: What Does It Have to Do With Safety?

Well-Being: What Does It Have to Do With Safety?

Panelists explains how well-being and safety collide in a Plenary Session at Safety 2021 in Austin, Texas.

Understanding the the complete health and wellness of employees can help to support a more safe workplace—especially in the midst of the on-going pandemic that has now stretched on beyond a year in a half.

According to a panel of safety experts at the American Society of Safety Professional’s Professional Development Conference & Exposition, safety professionals should look to Total Worker Health strategies to reduce stress and improve safety, health and well-being at work.

“The pandemic has made this so clear,” said Dede Montgomery, MS, CIH, Senior Research Associate in Outreach and Education at Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences. “We need to look at worker safety and health in a more holistic manner to ensure the safety of a workplace.”

In addition to Montgomery the panel included Jack Dennerlein, Ph.D., Adjunct Professor of Ergonomics and Safety Department of Environmental Health at Harvard University, Leslie Hammer, Ph.D., Associate Director of Occupational Health Psychology Program at Portland State University and Sharon Kemerer, COHN-S, Certified Occupational Hearing Conservationist and Certified in NIOSH Spirometry. The panel was moderated by immediate past ASSP President and President of SafeTech Consultants Deborah Roy.

The panelist first discussed the pandemic and the resulting emotional tole on workers. In the last year and a half, it has become increasingly clear that in order for employees to work safely, you have to consider all angles of workers’ health. This includes emotional and mental issues as well.

One way to approach this is to use Total Worker Health strategies. TWH, which is outlined on this NIOSH page, can help safety professionals engage with workers in a respectful way that increases safety and health in and out of the workplace.

“You can’t just put together a Total Worker Health approach and slap it down,” Kemerer said. ”You need to get input from your workers and from your partners. Find something that resonates for you and your workers, get your partners together and tackle it. This helps to show your workers that you do really care.”

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