Three Tips for Keeping Frontline Workers Safe on the Job
It is more crucial than ever for frontline workers to continue performing day in and day out within their workplaces.
- By John Leo Post
- Mar 16, 2021
Frontline workers – the hardworking individuals supporting the transportation industry as well as retail, grocery, logistics, warehousing and others that are so vital to our lives right now – have remained on the job throughout these challenging times. But how can they stay healthy and injury-free while keeping up with the huge surge in demand caused by the pandemic?
With fluctuating stay-at-home orders and social distancing guidelines still in place, it is more crucial than ever for frontline workers to continue performing day in and day out within their workplaces. In addition to all other worksite challenges, frontline workers are also at greater risk of contracting COVID-19. To combat this threat, many businesses have needed to implement safety procedures to minimize exposure through the use of masks, gloves, frequent disinfecting, social distancing, acrylic dividers and a number of other procedures.
While these efforts are important to prevent the spread of the virus, frontline employees are still working long, stressful hours. And after roughly a year of living with the threat of COVID-19, fatigue is bound to set in and increase the risk of burnout – or worse, injury. Injured workers may have a difficult time at work – if they are able to continue working at all while recovering – and endure all of the physical and emotional challenges that come with an injury.
This is problematic for businesses as well. It only takes one injury to reduce an organization's safety record, hinder productivity during recovery and incur an avoidable worker's compensation claim. But by taking a few key steps, enterprises can help heroic frontline workers through this difficult period, keeping them focused and at peak performance at all times. From establishing a safety routine to providing mobile tools to stay engaged, organizations can ensure that these frontline workers feel supported and have access to the materials they need to remain physically and mentally safe while on the job.
Safety Starts with Preparation and Dedication
It’s important to remember that while the pandemic is relatively new and obviously scary, it is not the only thing employees should think about when trying to stay safe. They should take a moment to stretch their bodies to make sure they are physically ready for the job at hand, whether it requires heavy lifting, quick movements or other physical activity. Employers can assist in this regard by providing short bursts of information, known as microlearning, to quickly guide staff irrespective of their location.
By leading employees through this unexpected era and by encouraging them to take positive action before, during and after work, organizations can foster a work environment that is safer and more productive.
Don’t Just Show Up for Success – Plan for It
Thousands of athletes are currently preparing for the next Olympic Games. They’re training every day, working hard to be their very best in an effort to take home that highly coveted gold medal. If successful, they’ll be overwhelmed by the sense of accomplishment and the inevitable accolades that follow, which will no doubt instill feelings of achievement and success that never fade.
Frontline workers should also feel like they have achieved a level of greatness as industrial athletes. While they don’t have to spend their lives training for a competition that only occurs once every four years, adhering to movement best practices and training on proper movement can ensure they remain in top form. Employers can assist their industrial athletes in this regard by leveraging employer safety programs that can be accessed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, no matter when or where they are working.
Analysts agree that mobile, micro-bursts of information are the future. According to McKinsey, microlearning is more effective than longer learning sessions. This could be why Gartner urges executives to make learning easy and convenient when prioritizing new skills. Likewise, Accenture recommends that learning content should be delivered in bite-sized chunks that can be deployed and consumed quickly.
The end result can be the difference between productivity and injury, the latter of which takes employees off the frontlines and away from a job that provides their livelihood. With the right training regimen, organizations can reduce the risk of injury and keep their workers safe.
Empower Staff to Stay Connected No Matter Where They Work
IDC reports that mobile workers account for 57 percent of the total U.S. workforce and will reach 60 percent by 2024. Researchers with the company define a mobile frontline worker as someone who "performs client-facing or operational activities on-site or in the field that require distributed, mobile access to data, content, applications, and workflows."
Frontline workers may not work in a typical office setting, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have to communicate with those who do, as well as those who are working from home. They may need to connect with colleagues who are in a different part of the building or an entirely different location, and stay in touch with others who are working from home. This connection cannot be made without the right technology, so it’s important to consider how that factors in when managing a frontline workforce.
Zoom and Microsoft Teams are among the tools that have become a daily staple for remote workers, but they may also provide a degree of usefulness when checking in with on-site staff. At the very least, mobile devices should be put to full use by encouraging employees to sync up frequently, whether in the form of a quick text, phone call or something more high-tech. The key thing is to remember that we are all in this together. When we show we care by reaching out, if only to say hello, it can make a big difference in an employee’s mental state – and that, in turn, leads to meaningful and impactful job results.
A Little Help Goes a Long Way
There are few certainties in this world, especially in this current climate, but something that always remains true is that when employers are there for their workers, their workers will be there for them. This pandemic has taught us all that frontline staff are especially needed and valued, so it’s important to ensure their health and wellbeing is nurtured with the right actions. By taking the time to help them prepare for their work, and most of all their safety, organizations can look out for their employees while fostering a caring and productive culture from within.