Five keys to creating safer workplaces, from ASSP’s Corporate Listening Tour report

Posted by Johann Nacario — June 28, 2024 — Occupational safety and health (OSH) professionals use collaboration and key insights to make smart decisions that can drive change across the industry. The American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP) is helping that effort to improve worker safety and health by producing new online reports that contain firsthand views and experiences of business leaders from all industries.

This valuable feedback and context from seasoned executives is being summarized through ASSP’s Corporate Listening Tour, an activity that helps inform and direct both ASSP and corporate initiatives that advance worker safety and health. The project is led by CEO Jennifer McNelly, CAE, who meets individually with a broad range of safety executives each year to discover trends impacting their companies and the safety and health profession.

CEO Jennifer McNelly, CAE, stated:

While federal and state efforts have improved environments over the past few decades, more must be done to protect workers. The latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that nearly 5,500 fatal work injuries occurred in 2022 — a 5.7 percent increase from the previous year. This means a worker died every 96 minutes. That’s simply not acceptable. On-the-job fatalities and serious injuries are preventable.

ASSP’s 2024 report from the Corporate Listening Tour highlights five key findings:

  1. Focus on what matters. Prioritize the prevention of serious injuries and fatalities over minor incidents to avoid spreading resources too thin. This might mean accepting a slight increase in less severe incidents, but it’s ultimately about spending valuable time and resources where they count the most.
  2. Manage workforce vhanges and safety priorities. With unpredictable shifts in the workforce and a shortage of skilled labor, keeping everyone safe becomes more challenging. High turnover and the struggle to attract and keep good employees increase the risk of incidents and employee burnout. OSH professionals must influence how new employees are trained and provide input on retention strategies.
  3. Embrace OSH-related applications of AI. Technology, particularly artificial intelligence, is constantly reshaping how we work. While this brings opportunities for safety improvements, it also introduces new risks. OSH professionals should focus on using AI to enhance safety while ensuring the organization doesn’t neglect traditional safety practices that have proven to be effective.
  4. Manage cultural shifts and governance in uncertain times. Economic and political uncertainties affect how businesses operate. OSH professionals can drive changes in organizational culture – making sure leaders take accountability for safety – and demonstrate its importance even in uncertain times.
  5. Empower influential OSH leaders in the changing workplace. OSH professionals must maintain their technical skills and certifications while seeking organizational support to become better leaders who can drive operational excellence.

McNelly continued:

The report proposes a set of questions to help spark discussions among safety teams as well as with their colleagues and corporate leaders. It’s through proactive conversations about trends and potential risks that we can better integrate program improvements to reduce worker injuries, illnesses and fatalities.

Learn more about the Corporate Listening Tour and download the reports from ASSP.