Tapping Into the Hive Mind

An ASSP effort compiles worthwhile insights from safety’s collective expertise.

They say that two heads are better than one, but in today’s age of ubiquitous communications, you can tap into a global collective on any topic you like. They key is to ensure the information is qualified, and that means talking to the real experts — and that takes effort.

One such effort in the realm of safety is the 2024 installment of the American Society of Safety Professionals’ annual Corporate Listening Tour. In its fourth year, ASSP uses the tour to meet with a spectrum of safety executives who share what that they feel are the primary safety challenges currently facing organizations and how occupational health and safety professionals can address them.

Tapping into this safety “hive mind” uncovers a wealth of substantive and strategic safety insights. This year’s effort took away five pivotal pieces of shared knowledge that are worth applying to any organization’s safety efforts: 

1. Focus on what matters. Emphasize preventing serious injuries and fatalities rather than minor incidents to avoid diluting resources. This may result in a slight rise in less severe incidents, but the goal is to allocate valuable time and resources where they have the greatest impact.

2. Manage workforce changes and safety priorities. With workforce changes and a shortage of skilled labor, ensuring safety becomes more challenging. High turnover and difficulties in attracting and retaining good employees increase the risk of incidents and employee burnout. OSH professionals need to influence the training of new employees and contribute to retention strategies.

3. Embrace OSH-related applications of AI. Technology, and especially artificial intelligence, is reshaping the workplace. While this offers opportunities for safety improvements, it also introduces new risks. OSH professionals should leverage AI to enhance safety while ensuring that traditional, proven safety practices are not overlooked.

4. Manage cultural shifts and governance in uncertain times. The uncertainties of the economy and politics impact business operations. That’s just a fact of life, but safety professionals can drive changes in organizational culture by ensuring leaders always take accountability for safety and highlighting its importance, even during uncertain times.

5. Empower influential OSH leaders in the changing workplace. Occupational health and safety leaders and managers must keep their technical skills and certifications up to date while seeking support from their organizations to become better leaders capable of increasing safety/operational excellence.

I encourage you to visit www.assp.org/about/tackling-todays-safety-challenges to read more about ASSP’s Corporate Listening Tour and to download the full report. You’ll find considerable, collective wisdom in its pages. 

This article originally appeared in the June 2024 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

About the Author

David Kopf is the publisher and executive editor of Occupational Health & Safety magazine.

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