A healthy bank balance, nice car or big house. Many people dream of these things, yet your most valuable asset is within your grasp every day: your health. There is nothing more important than enjoying vibrant health in old age. At AB Werkt, we share that conviction. So we do our best to get everyone safely to retirement. And to do this, we need employers and employees on board.
You might be thinking: why is AB Werkt suddenly talking more about safety? Is the situation really that bad? Far from it! I believe our workspace has never been safer. There have been lots of improvements in recent years, such as the mechanization of work to ease the physical strain on people. A host of ergonomic resources have been introduced, such as conveyor belts and stacking robots. This does not change the fact that some tasks can still be physically demanding, such as working with animals. Mental challenges are another factor, one example being relief workers dealing with a family in which somebody is seriously ill.
Different world, bigger implications
The world of legislation is in constant flux. In the past, if you suffered serious ailments in your 50s, the Invalidity Insurance Act (WAO) would have kicked in. Nowadays, as an employee it is assumed that (together with your employer) you will look for suitable work and carry on working until you are 67. That’s why sustainable employment is such an important topic in collective labour agreement negotiations with the trade unions. Liability following an accident is also different these days. It used to be that the government footed the bill but, in recent years, the employer has ended shouldering most of the costs. Clearly, then, workplace accidents have serious implications: for the business owner, for AB Werkt and, of course, for the employee.
From reactive to proactive
AB Werkt has decided to take corporate social responsibility with regard to safety at work. In all honesty, we feel we have not devoted enough attention to this issue in the past. Naturally, we followed the regulations, but that’s as far as it went. Now, that’s going to change. We no longer want to simply tick boxes; instead, we are upping our efforts to get people safely to retirement, in good health. In 2021, we are consulting customers and members about behaviour, awareness, and encouraging safety at work. What does safe working mean and what do customers, employees, and AB Werkt need to put this into practice? We will also be keeping employees and employers better informed.
Our route to even fewer accidents
Instead of taking safety for granted, then, we are translating it into concrete actions. This involves gathering all kinds of figures, such as: what’s the general situation safety-wise, exactly how many incidents are there, what is happening in specific sectors? We have also had useful discussions about safety with staff at the regional offices who, of course, are in very close contact with our clients. We hope that this will lower even further our absenteeism and accident figures – which, incidentally, have been relatively stable in recent years. This is also in keeping with the new AB Werkt, with our far greater reliance on data, progress, and results.
Safety is about attitude and behaviour
As already mentioned, getting safely to retirement is not solely the responsibility of AB Werkt. We also need clients and employees on board. As an intermediary organization, the welfare and safety of our employees is not entirely in our hands. We can, and indeed do, require companies to ensure that everything is in order. However, safety is not simply a matter of more rules, information, and resources. To a very significant degree, it is a matter of attitude and behaviour. If, for instance, somebody observes a lack of safety awareness in the workspace, they must have the means to report it, or to let us know if their report goes unheeded.
As I see it, if employees of AB Werkt reach retirement in full and vibrant health, we will have more than succeeded in our mission.