What Is Your Workplace Pandemic?

Employers around the world have undertaken massive efforts over the past year to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The SARS COV-2 virus is truly a pandemic by definition, having a widespread impact around the globe, and affecting every country on the planet.  While we have become accustomed to seasonal influenza, cold viruses, and similar annual nuisances, the world hasn’t seen a global pandemic of this nature in over 100 years.

In response to the pandemic, we all mobilized.  We started wearing masks, and sanitizing surfaces, and using plastic barriers at our counters.  We implemented COVID response protocols, we tested, and we’re working on vaccination.  Work Health Solutions has been a leader in the COVID-19 response, providing solutions to state and local governments, airports and transit facilities, amusement parks, Fortune 500 companies, and a host of employers large and small.  We are providing those services in the United States, Canada, Australia, Asia, and Europe, and our COVID-19 services run the gamut, including screening, testing, policy recommendations, vaccination programs, and patient care.  In response to what we all have identified as a pandemic, employers have shown an incredible ability to marshal resources to address the occupational health threat that is COVID-19.

What if we told you that your workplace has another pandemic in it?  What if COVID-19 is not the only threat to your employee’s health and safety?

It sounds ridiculous, no?  What other kinds of workplace pandemics could you possibly have?  Well, if we describe the scope of your “world” as the scope of your workplace, what other injuries and illnesses have reached pandemic levels?  In some workplaces, ergonomics issues and related injuries are a pandemic.  In some workplaces, cardiovascular issues have reached pandemic levels.  In yet other workplaces, lifting injuries or repetitive strain injuries are a pandemic.  Certainly, these aren’t infectious diseases—but if they’re occurring with enough frequency in the workplace that you are losing productivity and incurring injuries, they can represent just as much of a threat to your employees’ safety as an infectious disease.

We’ve shown we can respond to occupational health threats in the workplace.  Are you doing enough to know what your occupational health threats really are?

In one example from our team, a new client had an employee suffer a workplace injury while operating a piece of specialized equipment.  The equipment was old and had very poor ergonomics, but was very costly to replace so it remained in use.  When the injury occurred, our team evaluated the injury, and then discussed the equipment with the on-site environmental health and safety (EHS) team.  When the EHS team looked back at past injuries, they found that this one piece of equipment had generated hundreds of thousands of dollars of injuries over a multi-year period.  These injuries represented a huge percentage of the workplace’s OSHA recordable incidents.

Our team was able to work with the employer’s EHS team to propose the replacement of the equipment.  The employer was able to identify that by incurring the cost of replacing the equipment, they could avoid a substantial number of injuries each year—and it would more than pay for the costs of the new, more ergonomic machine.  The employer realized that their workplace pandemic was the old, dangerous machine.  Their decision to replace it, founded on our review of their recordable injuries, saved money, avoided injuries, and avoided lost productivity.  It was also widely praised by employees who appreciated having a newer, safer, and more comfortable machine to use.

When you study your workplace illnesses and injuries and the causes of employee lost time from all sources, you can identify where your workplace pandemics exist.  A core component of our services is working to generate clear, accurate records leveraging our world-class IT and electronic health record system, so that our clients can view key performance indicators and understand their return on investment in occupational health, and so that they can view the objective data showing where their workplace pandemics exist. We give our clients the tools to intervene and create a safer workplace.

If you could go back a year in time and have an earlier, more informed response to the COVID-19 pandemic, would you?  What if you’re missing the opportunity for early intervention in the next workplace pandemic?

Contact us today to find out more about our services, and learn how you can create a safer, healthier, more productive workplace.

Dean Frieders

Dean Frieders

Chief Solutions Officer