Diversity, Equity and Inclusion are all part of a well-rounded workplace safety program
It was once thought that health and safety covered the basics, such as preventing injuries and safe operations. But health and safety has evolved a lot, and it’s more holistic now. Workplace health and safety encompasses the entire concept of worker wellbeing. As such, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are all part of a well-rounded workplace safety program.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Why Bother?
Don’t think of DEI as a single part of your health and safety program. Rather, think of it as something that is integrated into all facets of the program. When you view your program through a DEI lens, it will be more successful. Incorporating DEI also promotes and supports a psychologically safe workplace – one where people feel they can bring their whole, authentic, and best selves to work each day.
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Incorporating some small (or big!) changes into your everyday practice will help you make DEI an organic holistic part of your workplace safety program
Does Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Really Impact Workplace Safety?
Absolutely. Without considering DEI, your workplace safety program may not be as effective.
Disparities in language create safety barriers. When safety messages are only communicated in one language, they risk getting lost or misunderstood by workers who may not speak or read the language well. Safety training is often delivered in English and requires attendees to complete written tests. For some, reading and writing in English is a challenge. Further to language barriers, sometimes the format in which training is delivered can also make it inaccessible for people with disabilities or learning disorders. Safety is affected when your messages and training aren’t reaching your audience.
Workers identifying as one of any oppressed group are at risk of being harassed, bullied, or intimated. Oppressed groups include Indigenous people, members of the 2SLGTBQ+ community, people of colour, people with various religious associations, women, very young or very old people, people from different socio-economic groups, and so on. When people do not feel psychologically safe at work, they are prone to stress, which is proven to have a negative impact on overall health and wellbeing.
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In 2022, about 7 million women aged 15 and older were working in Canada. But did you know that personal protective equipment (PPE) wasn’t designed for women? Even though 7 million women currently work in Canada, the PPE they need to do their jobs safely was designed for men. According to the Canadian Women’s Experience with PPE Survey, 40% of women who wear PPE, such as fall arrest harnesses, coveralls, gloves, etc. reported incidents or injuries related to ill-fitting PPE. This is just one example of how a lack of DEI impacts safety. Other examples include not displaying safety information or signage in the languages spoken in the workplace, not addressing hostile behaviours toward or between employees, and failing to listen to what people need in a health and safety program.
How to Incorporate Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion into Workplace Safety
DEI isn’t a series of boxes you check. But incorporating some small (or big!) changes into your everyday practice will help you make DEI an organic holistic part of your workplace safety program. Some ideas include:
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MidSouthWest Training and Consulting offers Workplace Violence and Harassment Training. We also offer many online diversity courses. You can trust MidSouthWest Training and Consulting to provide you with cost-effective training solutions tailored to meet your organization’s unique health and safety needs.
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To ask to learn more, contact us online or call 289.309.1143. contact us online or call 289.309.1143. Visit us 24/7 on the web at midsouthwest.ca.
Last updated September 17, 2023