Along with technological innovation, regulations, and the changing workforce comes a laundry list of things to keep up within the EHS space. You may think, “great, yet another thing to keep on top of”. Let’s change that perspective.
We recently participated in a webinar with experts from RegScan and Arcadis to discuss what topics are trending in EHS on a global scale. These trends are exciting, as they are not isolated to just our department. Rather, they have a far-reaching impact on other parts of the business and present an opportunity for us to demonstrate our value across the company.
Let’s take a look at 5 trends shaping the future of EHS:
Air Emissions Regulations
Many countries around the world continue to see value in protecting the environment. At the crux of this is the overarching topic of climate change. Air emissions and pollution continues to be a target of governing bodies from Latin America to China, as many countries are continuing to increase efforts to reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions. This is coming in the form of directly regulating emissions from manufacturing plants to emissions vehicles. In the EU, both passenger cars and light commercial vehicles are coming under stricter requirements. By 2029 these types of vehicles are required to reduce their CO2 emissions by 15%. This impacts both manufacturers of vehicles as well as organizations who utilize fleet vehicles. We are also seeing a number of ‘clean vehicle’ initiatives in Brazil, China, and South Korea – all in the form of tax benefits and subsidies as incentives.
Zero Waste Initiatives
From a waste management perspective, many companies are launching waste reduction or Zero Waste initiatives. We’re seeing a widespread ban of single-use plastics, such as plastic bags and straws. While some countries have had these kinds of regulations for years, this trend is starting to spread from state to state across the US. The banning of single-use plastics is requiring manufacturers to think outside the box and create new products that are biodegradable while at the same time just as strong and cost-effective as before.
Other waste regulatory trends include how wastes are treated (what chemicals and processes are allowed) and how wastes are created in the first place. This is a perfect segue into another trending topic, sustainable products or what many are calling the Circular Economy.
What is a Circular Economy? This is the idea of embedding zero waste initiatives directly into the product development, manufacturing, and packaging process. Many of the regulations in this space are focused on removing plastics from products and using alternatives, which could transform the plastic industry entirely by focusing on only creating plastics that can be recycled or by requiring that these plastics must be recycled.
Safety Culture is not a new trend, but has gained considerable traction across a variety of industries. In a recent survey by EHS Today, 84% of respondents indicated they have implemented programs to strengthen safety culture.
Why is safety culture so important? Because the International Labour Organization (ILO) finds that more than 2.7 million people die each year as a result of occupational accidents or work-related diseases.
To help combat this is a new international standard for occupational health and safety, ISO 45001. The new standard provides government agencies and industry with usable guidance to improve worker safety on a global scale. With an easy to use framework, it can be applied to any organization regardless of size, type, or location. A three-year transition period is now in place for OSHAS 18001 certified organizations to upgrade their management system and achieve ISO 45001 certification.
Although ISO 45001 does not come into full effect until March 2021, companies should embrace the new standard now to ensure they are creating the safest and healthiest environment possible for workers.
EHS Digital Transformation
To keep up with industry trends and changing regulations, we need to wrap our heads around the technological innovations happening around us and leverage them to our advantage.
Research from EHS Today, EHS Embraces the Technology Revolution, shows that 85% of EHS professionals cite safety management systems as pertinent to their work, while 64% identify mobile devices as relevant to their work. When it comes to using technology to improve EHS performance in the workplace, compliance, accident prevention, training, and equipment maintenance are the areas EHS professionals are most likely to be leveraging tech and data analytics.