Top EHS Trends to Watch in 2021

If there is one thing 2020 has shown us, it is that technology is imperative for business success and continuity.

Although there is hope for the end of the pandemic as many countries have started rolling out the COVID-19 vaccinations to their people, the world is not quite back to the way we knew it before the pandemic hit, and might not be in a long time.

Organizational leaders continue to prioritize the safety of their workers and remote working where possible. COVID-19 has placed great emphasis on the importance of effective management of environmental, health and safety (EHS) risks and the benefits of doing so. There are a number of EHS technology and safety trends to look out for in 2021.

1. Increased focus on environmental management

In recent years, environmental management issues have been gaining increased focus from stakeholders and the advent of the pandemic propelled workplace safety to the foreground. Companies are investing time and money on practical management of these issues voluntarily and to remain compliant to regulations — especially with the introduction of targets to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 (NZE2050) by several countries.

2. Desire for a single integrated solution

    EHS faces continued pressure to evolve as an integral part of the business that consistently creates and delivers value. Over the years, there has been a rise in the desire by leaders to have a single solution that combines EHS processes in a dynamic, flexible and systematic way. This provides companies with a single, comprehensive and integrated management solution. Businesses are moving towards this trend as it gives them an advantage over their competitors. The benefits of having such a solution include having a holistic view of risk, reduction of data redundancy and incidents, elimination of duplicate processes, visible performance monitoring and standardization of processes throughout the organization.

    3. Improved safety outcomes

    Until recently, safety programs were more concentrated on detection rather than prevention. Companies spent more time managing the impact of risks after an incident has occurred rather than preventing the incident from happening in the first place. Now, safety leaders are advocating for connected worker ecosystems that pay close attention to risk prevention programs that stress the importance of education and training or retraining of workers.

    4. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

    A Verdantix EHS Survey conducted in 2020 showed that EHS managers were focused on improving incident management, achieving environmental compliance, and enhancing occupational health, industrial hygiene and ergonomics. The demand and use of PPE is set to increase this year due to safety concerns stemming from COVID-19 and the rising awareness of employee protection at the workplace.

    5. Improved communication systems

    Communication will remain essential in protecting workers in 2021. The first rule of crisis management is to communicate effectively – the right message, at the right time to relevant stakeholders. EHS communication can be used by leaders to communicate new or updated policies, vaccine details, rules on entering and exiting the building, reiterating social distancing and mask wearing guidelines and delivering regular COVID-19 updates. According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), establishing a system for communicating successfully and frequently with workers, in a language they understand and in a manner that is accessible to them is key in the role companies play when responding to COVID-19.

    6. Employees’ overall health

    Primarily, health and safety in the workplace refers to the physical wellbeing of employees where there are documented processes of how to deal with injuries or work-related physical illnesses. The COVID-19 pandemic has placed great emphasis on the importance of workers’ mental health and will be recognized as a major part of employees’ overall health. Employees who are mentally unwell pose as much risk as employees who are physically ill. Data provided by the American Psychiatric Association, reports that employees with unresolved depression experience a 35% reduction in productivity, contributing to a loss to the US economy of USD210.5 billion a year in absenteeism, reduced productivity and medical costs.

    EHS software solutions can help companies develop and manage data on health and wellness programs that allow for easy access to and monitoring of all employee records. Health and wellness personnel can access information of an employee's physical and mental health and inform management of any issues that need to be addressed as well as focus their wellness plans on trending conditions related to their workforce. Connecting health and wellness to safety indicators can also uncover trends that can be proactively managed and communicated to the management team.

    7. Digitized health and self-assessments

    In the past year, employees across the globe have been slowly returning to work and employers are looking for more effective ways to help protect them. Organizations need to continue monitoring the health and safety of their workforce through screening tools and self-assessments. This enables leaders to conduct and record frequent health checks of their workers, such as checking their temperature prior to going on-site.

    8. Increased mobile use

    A survey conducted by Verdantix on the evolving universe of EHS mobile apps last year shows that the uptake of mobile EHS applications will not slow down, frontline workers are reshaping the design of EHS mobile apps and market developments will focus on vendor services and app functionality. Organizations are increasingly using mobile tools for safety inspections and incident reporting as part of EHS strategies and are looking to invest in technology that turns off mobile devices when essential tasks are concluded.

      Conclusion

      The ever-growing importance of EHS means that it is essential for organizations to stay up-to-date with the latest trends in the market. Being proactive in this way enables leaders to reduce risk and increase operational efficiency. The IsoMetrix EHS solution seamlessly integrates different EHS processes, giving you a single and comprehensive management solution that allows for informed decision making and measurement of EHS performance against set objectives.

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