Hello to you, and all the best for staying safe this year. This is our first new blog for 2018, and as such, we’re looking ahead to the trends we can expect from the occupational health and safety industry.
I think we can agree that many companies faced challenges related to trends in HSE in 2017, and a number of these HSE trends are set to continue in the coming year. Additionally, some new HSE trends will become more prominent in the upcoming year as well. For this reason, it is essential for existing HSE programmes to continue – and for even new HSE programmes and policies to be implemented – to meet these issues and concerns head-on to ensure each company’s continued success.
2018 will address some of the challenges that arose during the past year, while adding additional emphasis on new concerns and trends. For HSE managers, the impacts of these various trends and challenges will require further refining of existing programmes. Additionally, many HSE management teams can look forward to impacts from areas that were once considered outside the scope of HSE – meaning we will all have to develop new responses. One thing is certain – HSE programmes and management teams will remain an essential and vital part of any company that has an eye towards success.
So let’s take a look at what to expect over the next 12 or so months.
Trend #1: Everything will become a little clearer
At the moment, organisations such as BCRSP in Canada, the Board of Certified Safety Professionals in the United States, and the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health in the United Kingdom have memoranda of understanding (MOUs) in place to address equivalencies across their respective organisations and countries.
In September 2017, many safety organisations from around the globe signed the Singapore Accord. This commits to improving and standardising the profession using the INSHPO Professional Framework to align requirements across countries.
The recent changes to the CRSP requirements and the new CRST designation are, in part, to align with the INSHPO framework, and to standardise professional capabilities. While many countries have documents in place to describe the requirements of the profession, the INSHPO document is the first to be agreed on internationally.
Trend #2: ISO 45001 is expected to be released this year
At long last – and some news that will make fans of management systems very excited. Just remember – management systems do not make companies safe. They can be very useful and instrumental, especially in large companies. But saying a management system will improve safety is like saying the Titanic is safe because it has lifeboats. The system is there to support the existing policies and procedures, and the success of these in turn depend entirely on whether they are effectively implemented.
What’s more, there is, unfortunately no competitive advantage to having a certified safety management system, unlike the benefits of quality or environmental management systems. Safety management systems are often poorly implemented and often lack any identifiable continuous improvement mechanism.
Trend #3: Dealing with workplace stress will become a greater area of focus
Stress continues to cause concern this year, especially around the development and impact of workplace stress. Work-related stress disorders are expected to rise as countries’ economies continue to undergo various shifts and impacts. Therefore, companies should take steps to ensure that any current programmes are sufficiently robust to reduce the concerns associated with stress in the workplace, as well as implement any new programmes that show an increased effectiveness at reducing stress and stress generation.
Trend #4: Leveraging risk management
In 2017 companies continued to develop internal risk management programmes and systems, and 2018 promises to be the year where many of these programmes are leveraged for results across the company spectrum. In other words, sufficient time has occurred for the internal development of risk management data and effectiveness that this can now be translated directly into specific areas of the business to further reduce inherent risk development within the company.
Trend #5: The demand for safety personnel will increase
For another year, there is a projected increase in the demand for safety personnel at all levels. However, what is expected to occur is a tightening of the specific hiring requirements as many companies evaluate the need for an emphasis on education or experience. For larger companies, the distinction may not be apparent but the difference could have an impact on smaller companies or those with a unique set of circumstances.
Trend #6: Increased reliance on predictive analytics
Many companies have been developing risk management and mitigation data, and using analytics to help derive sense from the glut of information. This year, many of these will be put into practice.
In addition, the trend of emphasizing the use of these predictive analytics is expected to rise as this information is refined even further. This should begin to show positive returns for companies that have been implementing this predictive technology as part of their risk management profiles. However, there is still time to take advantage of these systems for those companies that have not implemented these types of analytics.
Trend #7: Enterprise mobile growth
Currently, around 62.9% of the world’s population owns a mobile phone. This enthusiasm for mobile connectivity has translated to the enterprise arena, where corporate IT teams maintain bring-your-own-device policies and manage robust backend platforms that support data-driven, on-the-go workflows. With the continued expansion of the Internet of Things (IoT), which includes more than 8 billion devices, there is no turning back.
Enterprise mobile investments will continue in 2018, leading to further expansion of the IoT. HSE stakeholders are likely to participate in this IoT implementation rush, introducing cutting-edge workplace safety tools, such as mobile inspection applications. HSE managers will have to provide and enforce appropriate procedures for the use of mobile technology that keep workers safe and allows for greater efficiency in operations.
Trend #8: Adoption of telematics
An increased focus on automotive connectivity has given way to telematics, a niche technology space characterised by IoT hardware and software that leverages telecommunications features and informatics components to facilitate vehicle monitoring and data collection. HSE departments have embraced telematics technology in an effort to mitigate the risks that accompany one specific workplace hazard: the open road. Thousands of workers die annually due to injuries sustained in occupational automobile accidents. Telematics can provide HSE professionals with a variety of real-time metrics, including location coordinates, speed and distance metrics, and driving conditions and behaviour. The data provided can help shed light on the root causes of vehicle incidents.
Trend #9: The advancement of microlearning
The mobile revolution has catalysed numerous enterprise developments, including the rise of microlearning, an instructional methodology centred on pared-down content delivered through digital platforms. This approach not only optimises knowledge retention in an era of shrinking attention spans, but also allows employees to use their mobile devices to consume key safety training content during off hours (or at the point of need). Microlearning has opened up new opportunities for HSE directors, as the methodology has the potential to greatly increase knowledge intake and lays the groundwork for safer operations. As a result, HSE departments are likely to continue with microlearning adoption in 2018.
Trend #10: Data security
Although safety technology facilitates immense operational productivity, it also poses new risks. HSE professionals should be mindful that safety data can contain a great deal of Personably Identifiable Information (PII), including the names, addresses, and contact information of employees. Therefore, it’s crucial that organisations implement HSE technology that safeguards PII and follows best security practices. Ideally, administrators of a safety software system should be able to easily control users’ access to sensitive data. In addition, HSE departments must also be mindful of external security threats, as organisations with digitised workflows could become targets of cybercriminals and hackers.