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Workplace safety spends quite a lot of time focusing on physical health. After all, physical hazards are some of the most obvious hazards your workers face.
However, it’s important to remember that mental health is just as important as physical health, and in some ways it can have an even greater impact. And like physical health, the best way to approach it is through consistent vigilance.
The problem, of course, is that it’s tricky to include mental health on your health & safety checklist. It’s not exactly like a piece of machinery. Here are a few ways you can work it into your regular inspection checklists.
Mental health is a bit of a tricky subject to cover in a health & safety checklist. It’s not like checking PPE or checking for a missing machine part.
Most checklists are designed to address these issues, and they address them rather well. Every workplace needs detailed steps to address things like physical safety and maintenance. But mental health is a different animal.
Our mental health shows up in everything we do, and it does so in subtle ways. Worker fatigue, for example, is both a contributor to poor mental health and a sign of poor mental health. Lack of focus is a similarly worrisome sign, as is apathy.
The point is, you can’t address mental health like a missing tool because it’s far more complicated than that. Instead, you have to approach worker mental health from a holistic perspective, accounting for the many ways that negative mental and emotional health can show up at work.
The best place to start is to think about what you’re trying to look for and the ways in which it might show up. You can also approach this as looking for signs of negative mental health as a consequence of conditions specific to your work environment.
For example, if you work in construction, stress and anxiety are both natural reactions to a high-risk environment. Look for signs that workers are worn out or anxious. On the other hand, hiding behind a tough-guy mentality is an equally worrisome sign, since it means workers aren’t asking for help.
One of the best ways to approach this is to ask workers to do regular self-assessments. However, this only works if you back it up with resources to support workers who are struggling and deliberately cultivate an environment that encourages openness, communication, and vulnerability.
Your health & safety checklist is one of your most important tools in regular safety inspections, which is why it’s essential that it includes everything you need to properly address workplace.
That said, we know that dealing with safety is a complex effort. That’s why we developed safety software that makes it easy to bring together your most important indicators and make rhyme or reason of what you find. If you’re ready to take a smarter approach to safety, click here to start a conversation.
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