The field of Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) is constantly evolving as organizations strive to create safer and more sustainable work environments. It is mainly driven by technological advancements, changing societal expectations and the need for sustainable practices. This blog highlights some of the key environmental health and safety trends to look out for in 2023. Staying updated regarding these emerging trends will help companies adapt to them quickly, thereby improving employee well-being and contributing towards a more sustainable future. Let’s get started –
- Prioritizing Sustainability and Environmental Health:
In the third quarter of 2022, the EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency) launched a new office dedicated to furthering environmental justice and civil rights. This testifies to the importance that the state attaches to ensuring sustainability, environmental health, and civic rights.
This is complemented by the fact that today’s consumers are becoming more conscious of environmental and sustainability problems. Driven by either a compulsion to sustain or their habitual consciousness, brands have advocated for responsible sourcing and placed due importance on environmental sustainability and social righteousness.
- Greater Emphasis on Employee Mental Health and Psychological Safety:
Today’s marketplaces are extremely uncertain and gloomy. Exogenous factors like supply chain disruptions, inflation, economic slowdown, recession, climate-related disasters, layoffs, increased cost of living, etc., tend to have a pronounced impact on the health and mental well-being of employees. When they are anxious about their financial problems, employees tend to be less productive and are prone to workplace incidents and injuries.
Traditionally, the focus of EHS policies and systems was on the physical health of employees. Given the uncertainties and insecurities that employees endure in 2023, organizations now attach due importance to ensuring the mental health of the employees in addition to their focus on physical health.
- New ESG Regulations Are Coming Into Force:
Regulatory bodies across the world are putting forth several ESG policies and norms, and businesses are under increased pressure to accommodate themselves to the requirements of the changing regulations. To date, there are more than 500 ESG provisions in different countries worldwide. As they are on a spree to deliver their NDC targets and UN sustainability goals, countries are strengthening their regulations and increasing their ESG norms and provisions.
In the USA, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has proposed changes to the Human Capital Management Disclosure rules. In the UK, the Financial Conduct Authority has completed a consultation on strengthening the Sustainability Disclosure Requirements (SDR). It is expected to put forth norms on including ESG and sustainability terms in product labelling and marketing too.
In the EU, the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR) and the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) mandate ESG disclosures. So, businesses must amp up their efforts to collect, monitor and report data pertaining to ESG and sustainability.
- Remote Audits Are Becoming the New Normal:
Employees shifted to remote work during lockdowns imposed by governments to contain the spread of the pandemic. Since then, remote work has become normal and is expected to stay longer than expected. So is the case with audits and inspections. EHS consultants undertake remote audits, and they are becoming normal for several reasons, some of which include greater efficiency, increased transparency and reduced cost of travel.
More importantly, remote audits are ongoing and do not disrupt the organization’s functioning, unlike traditional, in-person audits. Instead of using multiple tools for conferencing, emailing, storage, etc., organizations may shift to using collaborative EHS systems and software that can perform all these functions in one go.
- EHS Software Solutions Are Gaining Traction:
As is known, digital technologies have gained prominence during the pandemic and the following years. A Verdantix report reveals that the EHS software market will experience a growth of 11.5% a year to eventually reach a valuation of $2.5 billion by the year 2026. Businesses were initially reluctant to spend on the EHS software. However, upon witnessing the benefits of automating the EHS operational flows, more and more businesses are driving their investments into robust EHS systems. From being overlooked as not-so-important spending, EHS software systems are now envisioned as a smart investment.
As a result, businesses have increased their investments in deploying EHS systems to digitalize traditional activities like audits, compliance, reporting, etc. The data and the insights derived will facilitate informed decision-making and accurate reporting as compared to traditional means.
- Operational Data is Expected to Enhance the Quality of ESG Reporting:
Operational data offers organizations the opportunity to collect real-time, granular, and precise information about their environmental and social performance. Instead of relying on estimations or aggregated data, operational data provides tangible and accurate insights into key ESG metrics. For example, organizations can monitor their energy consumption in real-time through smart meters or track waste generation and disposal through automated systems. These insights gained from operational data analysis allow organizations to set meaningful targets, track progress and make data-driven decisions to drive continuous improvement in their ESG performance.
To learn about the top EHS certifications for safety professionals, read this.
- Application of AI in the EHS Domain:
As huge volumes of data are generated, analyzing them and making decisions based on the inferences remain a challenge for organizations. Artificial Intelligence helps facilitate the process of decision-making based on the data collected using ESG software and tools.
AI tools and systems use learning algorithms to analyze data, spot patterns, and make estimations and predictions based on the data. By leveraging the predictive analytics ability of AI, organizations to take proactive measures to prevent incidents before they occur, leading to improved safety outcomes. Moreover, AI-powered systems can also automate data collection, reporting and documentation, reducing the administrative burden and ensuring accurate and timely compliance.
- Gamification Techniques Being Used for Enhanced Employee Training:
Promoting employee engagement and guiding the workforce about the safety and potential hazards at the office at work remains a priority for organizations. But drawing the employee’s attention to subjects like health and safety has always remained a challenge. Interactive techniques like gamification tools help make the process more fun, effective and engaging.
Using gamification techniques, businesses simulate different scenarios and train employees about the safety instructions they must follow under different circumstances. Gamified EHS programs offer rewards and points for completing the process and employees feel motivated to take up the training. The best thing about gamification tools is that they help deliver important topics in a fun and engaging tone. This helps create awareness of the EHS management systems and encourages continued learning and skill development among the workforce.
In conclusion, by staying updated regarding these environmental health and safety trends, organizations will be able to create a greater positive impact and stay ahead of the curve.
How VisiumKMS Supports EHS Compliance
For global enterprises that contend with regulated processes and complex engineering assets, VisiumKMS is a highly configurable, web-based QHSE platform connecting information dynamically, precisely, reliably and instantly – between the back office and the plant, factory, or any other site. It drives efficient, visible, and easily communicable corrective and preventive actions.
VisiumKMS removes weak links in any communication chain, providing a pillar for optimal, safer, risk-reduced, and compliant operations – enabling continuous improvement through preventive and corrective actions – for the oil and gas, chemical process, and food, drug and beverage industries.
We commit to staying ahead of the curve; to help our customers keep ahead of the business and operational pressures, regulations, and global or local challenges they face. Get in touch with us here.