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Workplace Safety Survey Shows Communication Issues are Placing Employees at Risk

Framingham, MA-based Rave Mobile Safety has published the results of its annual workplace safety and preparedness survey. The report shows that while preparedness for emergency is better than in 2017, there is still considerable room for improvement, especially in healthcare and education.

The survey was conducted on 540 full time employees in the United States across several industries. The aim of the survey was to identify trends in emergency planning, obtain the views of employees about workplace safety, and find out more about the efforts that have been made to ensure effective communication in the event of an emergency and alert employees at risk.

The survey shows companies are increasingly developing plans for modern emergencies, such as active shooters, workplace violence, and cyberattacks and system outages. However, greater effort is required to ensure that emergency plans are communicated to employees.

Some 20% of workers were unaware of emergency plans for cyberattacks and system outages and 18% of workers were unaware of the emergency plan for active shooters and workplace violence. Figures from the National Safety Council indicate around 2 million individuals are victims of violence in the workplace every year and workplace violence is the third main cause of workplace deaths in the healthcare industry. Worryingly, 37% of women were unaware of workplace violence emergency plans, even though workplace violence is the second leading cause of death for women in the workplace.

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Planning for emergencies is essential, but so too is testing emergency plans to make sure they are effective. Many companies have developed emergency plans yet have not tested them to make sure they work. 53% of surveyed employees said workplace violence plans were never tested and 55% said emergency plans for cyberattacks were never tested, even through there is a significant risk of both types of attack occurring.

The survey revealed traditional methods of communication in emergencies are in decline and many companies are now turning to mobile technology such as text messages and apps to communicate in emergency situations. Email is still the leading communication channel in emergencies, even though communication is slower than text messages and apps and in the event of a cyberattack, email may be taken out of action.

55% of companies used email to communicate with employees in emergency situations, even though only 11% of employees said they prefer this method of communication. Text message alerts were preferred by 50% of employees, yet only 44% of companies send text messages to alert employees about emergency situations.

“The survey gives great insight into how employees feel about their level of safety at work in the event of a possible emergency situation, but also demonstrates the disconnect that still exists between the communications channels employers use to inform their employees during emergencies and the way employees prefer to receive this information,” said Todd Piett, CEO of Rave Mobile Safety.

Author: Steve Alder is the editor-in-chief of HIPAA Journal. Steve is responsible for editorial policy regarding the topics covered on HIPAA Journal. He is a specialist on healthcare industry legal and regulatory affairs, and has several years of experience writing about HIPAA and other related legal topics. Steve has developed a deep understanding of regulatory issues surrounding the use of information technology in the healthcare industry and has written hundreds of articles on HIPAA-related topics.