World Day for Safety and Health at Work: What Top Employers are Doing

4 minutes read
By Top Employers Institute

The 28th of April marks World Day for Health and Safety at Work. We’re celebrating it by examining what Top Employers are doing to improve office health and safety. World Day for Health and Safety at Work was initiated by the International Labour Organization in 2003 and is dedicated to promoting safe, healthy, and decent work environments as a fundamental principle for workplaces everywhere.

Twenty years on, the health and safety of employees is recognised as an imperative. According to the research from our Certification Programme among 2053 Top Employer organisations worldwide, it continues to score highly as a business priority in the post-pandemic world.

What could all organisations do to redouble their commitment to employees in this area?

Physical health and safety

Physical safety in the workplace remains the highest priority. Despite the move to increasingly flexible, remote and hybrid forms of working, many employees, particularly in “blue-collar” industries, still spend a significant portion of their lives in a specific place of work. Ensuring the health and safety of workplaces not only reduces risk but also improves employee productivity. Among our Top Employers:

  • 92% have a Health and Safety officer or manager.
  • 70% provide an OH professional.
  • 51% can call on an in-house doctor for assistance.

Beyond these physical protective measures, ergonomics is another essential aspect of physical safety, focusing on the design of workspaces to minimise strain and injury. It’s encouraging, therefore, that over nine in ten (93%) of Top Employers globally consistently embed wellbeing into the design of their workplaces while almost as many (89%) involve employee groups in the organisation and structure of how they work. By fostering this sort of collaborative action around safety and health at work, employers can minimise workplace accidents and proactively maintain a healthier workforce.

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Mental health and safety

While much of the focus of health and safety historically has been on physical aspects, the importance of mental health and safety has also come to be increasingly understood and prioritised, with the impact of stress, burnout, and other psychological issues critical to employees’ productivity and wellbeing.

Creating a mentally healthy work environment means employers must set clear employee boundaries, and we can see this clearly with data from Top Employers:

  • 93% give managers the responsibility to encourage their teams’ full use of vacation leave.
  • 71% guarantee time to “unplug”/take stress-relief breaks at work.
  • 56% strongly discourage the use of email outside regular office hours.

Psychological safety is also increasingly important, with employers becoming increasingly aware of the importance of creating a workplace that represents a “safe space” for all. Nearly nine in ten (89%) of our Top Employers actively promote diversity of thought, experiences and skills. In comparison, 96% have anti-harassment and bullying policies in place. Wherever they are physically located in their work, employees must enjoy a consistent guarantee for their mental health and safety.

Read More: How Organisations are Reshaping their Work Environments to Promote Mental Health

Snapshot: What are Top Employers doing?

Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 outbreak, Nestlé China fully prioritised their employees’ safety, wellbeing and health, updating their “Nutrition, Health & Wellness” program and providing a robust program on Resilience Capability Building.

JTI’s created an initiative called “Energise & Empower”, an online assessment focusing on physical, emotional, mental and purposeful energy, recovery, agility, and empowerment. It was designed to give employees time and space to focus, recognise their pressures, and give them tools and support to help themselves. 

ING Italia has created and continues to support an effective communication channel between their top management and employees that has helped improve their organisational health index (OHI). To achieve this goal, they identified volunteer OHI Ambassadors to act as role models for the business, support the organisation, cascade messages and gather regular feedback from fellow employees.  

Read More: How the Workspace Can Improve Employees’ Experience

The health and safety dividend

On this World Day for Safety and Health at Work, we encourage businesses to be more proactive. By addressing both the physical and mental health dimensions of health and safety, companies know they can reduce absenteeism and move to higher productivity and improved retention rates. And by creating a supportive and inclusive environment to shape health and safety, employers empower their workforces to help them achieve a better world of work.

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World Day for Safety and Health at Work: What Top Employers are Doing

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