June is National Safety Month, a time for enterprises, their safety professionals, and the safety resources they depend on to renew their commitment to safety and explore new strategies for keeping workers safe and nurturing a culture of wellness.
This year’s National Safety Month kicks off with a week devoted to mental health, a topic that has virtually never been more important in the field of workplace safety. Mental health has always been a key factor of the safety equation for safety managers—it’s a pervasive issue across the country, with nearly 20% of Americans experiencing mental illness as of 2016 and over 70% of adults reporting at least one symptom of stress that year. Worse, the COVID-19 crisis has dramatically exacerbated mental health issues among Americans, with four in ten adults reporting that their mental health had suffered during the outbreak and ensuing social distancing measures and economic fallout. Moreover, historical data shows that stress among workers increases during times of global crisis or civil unrest, two factors that will certainly cause safety managers some late nights in the coming months.
This presents a major problem for safety managers, who are tasked with preventing workplace injuries that can become more frequent when worker mental health suffers. In 2014, a study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine demonstrated a link between depression and increased workplace injury risks, and data from the Centers for Disease Control suggests that depression interferes with a worker’s ability to accomplish their work tasks about 20% of the time. The same data shows that 35% of the time, depression reduces cognitive performance. The financial costs of ignoring mental health issues among workers can be staggering—data from 2003 indicates that depression cost employers some $51.5 billion that year alone.
With social and environmental stressors worsening around us all the time, it’s never been more important to provide support for workers’ mental health. At DORN, we’ve worked to address the risks that come with mental health problems among the workforce, and we’d like to share resources we’ve developed that can help safety professionals deal with fatigue, chronic pain, and injury risks associated with mental health problems.
Chronic pain costs employers over $600 billion per year, and is a major driver of mental illness among workers. In this white paper, we review the chronic pain problem from multiple perspectives, offering solutions that can mitigate the workplace factors that contribute to chronic pain. Read more.
This white paper will delve into the physical and emotional factors that contribute to worker fatigue, and will examine the physical, cognitive, and social symptoms that often result. It explores the organizational consequences of a fatigued workforce, dissecting how fatigue influences operations at the human level and leads to significant financial costs on the part of employers. It will discuss strategies for tackling the fatigue problem, from identifying the issue to implementing the various administrative, behavioral, and environmental changes that can lead to well-rested employees and a healthier financial outlook. Get your copy.
Fatigue is commonly associated with injury risks, but it’s also a significant component of mental health issues like depression and anxiety. Chronic fatigue also leads to higher rates of mental illness, increasing injury risks on more than one front. Listen to our fatigue webinar series, which offers insight from fatigue experts and safety professionals. Watch here.
Employees can manage their stress and anxiety with a range of smartphone apps and online courses that provide emotional support and customized activities to help improve well-being. The Lone Worker Well-Being course offers e-learning lessons on topics such as financial wellness, yoga, meditation, and more, encouraging self-care and positive health choices. Contact to learn more.
The NSC has published this helpful document for employers looking to provide mental health support for employees. It highlights tactics and resources to help guide managers toward an effective mental health strategy that accounts for factors stemming from COVID-19 as well as stressors inside and outside of the workplace.