Are You Prepared for a New Generation of Workplace Injuries?

By Matt Longman | 08/25/2017

The workforce of today looks nothing like the working world of 40 or even 20 years ago. And it’s likely that 20 years from now will look dramatically different from today. Understanding these shifts in the workplace will help employers be better prepared to address the next generation of workplace injuries.

To help employers manage the next generation of workplace injuries, we must understand the factors that are driving change and the potential for injuries associated with them. Below are some of the major elements that continue to change the way we work:

Technology

Technology is part of everything we do, and continues to play an important role in all aspects of work. A Citrix-sponsored survey found that today’s workers use an average of six devices to do their work, while at the same time spending only two-thirds of their workweek at a desk. This growing reliance on technology allows us to do more, in less time, but also brings with it the risk for injuries. 

Repetitive use injuries and computer vision syndrome are two conditions that are common for employees who utilize computers and tablets to complete their daily tasks. Employers can combat this by encouraging employees to take periodic breaks throughout the day, step away from computers and technology, and give themselves a chance to rest. Ergonomics can also help to reduce the risk of repetitive use injuries with proper desk setups, workstation adjustments, and improved workflows.

Shifts in Workplace Trends

Another study by research firm Vanson Bourne showed that workplace sizes are shrinking, with a move toward workshifting, where people shift work to more convenient times and locations. Mobile computing and BYOD (bring your own device) initiatives are another strong component linked with this trend.

For employers, this trend in workshifting means operating beyond the standard workday, and ensuring occupational medicine resources are available when an injury occurs. A good example is the risk of workplace clutter causing an accident. In the (very near) future, it may not mean crammed shelves and filing cabinets, but tight corners and busy flow of a coffee shop. Since this is where work is happening, it can still be considered a workplace.

Concentra is helping cutting-edge companies shift to the workplace of the future with the introduction of telemedicine for workers’ comp injuries. For employees who may work outside the normal operating hours or in non-traditional roles, we offer a virtual visit for some of the most common on-the-job injuries, helping employers stay compliant and get workers back on the job.

Multitasking

Younger, less experienced employees are part of a multitasking generation. Multitasking distractions represent a whole new category of risk in the workplace and can also lead to accidents or injuries. Whether its spending time on apps or texts, or trying to juggle too many projects at once, our multitasking world creates an opportunity for injuries at every corner.

Multitasking can lead to frantic paces, increasing the opportunity for trips, slips, and falls. Employers should communicate the importance of prioritizing tasks, and encourage employees to focus on the job in front of them to limit the risk of an injury. An easy rule to remember: if your hands and feet are involved, your head should be too.

Employee Engagement

The next generation of workers have a different approach to the working world compared to the Baby Boomer generation. There is more focus on collaboration, sharing of ideas, open spaces, transparency, and creating a team environment. The central component to this is ensuring employees feel engaged in their jobs and the company.

The key to a successful occupational health program is employee engagement. If your employees are engaged in their work, feel a greater sense of purpose to achieving the company’s goals, and know they’re contributing to its success, they’re more likely to adhere to the company’s health programs. In many instances, this level of engagement has driven the creation of employee-led wellness programs, which can positively impact an employer’s health care costs. Employers can help to foster engagement through ongoing communication, asking for employee input on policies and programs, and encouraging the efforts of employees to take positive action in company programs.

Managing the risks in the next generation workplace is not an instantaneous step, it’s a process. A key component to making this transition comes down to education and training. Companies should incorporate different training and education styles into their processes, and consider how these new factors are influencing how employees work, and the potential risks associated with them.

By understanding the driving elements behind these shifts, and the success that can come from embracing these new changes, employers already have a leg up on what lies ahead. As more organizations look at shifting their policies, they need an experienced occupational medicine provider to help them understand the risks and create programs to meet their needs. Concentra is the preferred provider for some of the country’s most innovative companies, and helps to design workplace programs to fit their unique workforce. To learn more, talk to a program expert today