COVID-19 Has Changed Workplace Safety Forever

Although technology trends will remain incredibly important to safety moving forward, COVID-19 now dominates every headline and conversation. Without question, COVID-19 has brought about the largest shift in modern culture ever. And not just with safety. 

As a safety professional, it’s fascinating to see such an embrace of – and commitment to – standard safety protocols on everything from HVAC maintenance to PPE adoption to distancing markers in grocery store lineups. Momentum on a new or old safety component is always difficult. You need a recognized gap, adequate resources, buy-in from senior management, a consulted supervisory and worker population, and then incentive.

Can safety professionals leverage the spotlight on the profession to push correction and compliance on culture challenges faced for years? At their essence, the issues are the same. A hazard exists, controls must be put in place, and it’s up to everyone to look after each other, right? It’s hard to know for sure but a huge opportunity could be lost if this momentum diminishes or wavers because of time, absent consequences, or financial challenges. 

COVID-19 will forever be a reference point to our collective (macro or micro) ability to accomplish anything regardless of cost, level of difficulty, or perception of impossibility. Never again should a safety challenge run into a barrier of cost, interest, or risk-reward measurements. 

At the end of the day, everyone is all in when it comes to keeping our businesses thriving and alive when safety concerns present a business risk. But when the dust settles, will the protection of people be paramount because culture around safety has changed? We will have to wait and see.