Top emerging trends in health and safety

As an EHS professional, staying updated on compliance regulations, requirements, and best practices is essential for continuous improvement. These emerging trends in health and safety demonstrate the industry’s shift towards more sustainable, long-term strategies and solutions.

Virtual and remote learning

Health and safety training is notoriously cumbersome to conduct and track. That’s why many virtual and remote learning options are becoming more common in the EHS space.

Using a learning management system is the most common way companies coordinate virtual training. Workers simply complete their training modules from their phone or computer and the system tracks their progress. This simplifies the process of onboarding new employees and allows companies to improve their in-person training classes.

The trend towards remote training is also driven by the dominance of video content. Moving forward, companies will continue to explore video content options that allow for more flexible, efficient EHS training.

Wearable technology

One of the most exciting trends emerging in health and safety is the use of wearable technology. This includes all sorts of devices, including (but not limited to):

  • Smart safety helmets
  • Proximity warning sensors
  • Virtual reality (VR) goggles
  • Health and fitness watches
  • Air quality monitors
  • Ergonomics evaluation technology

Some of these devices also have companion apps that track and report the data. This gives EHS departments more ways to analyze remote, confined, or dispersed workforces. It will be interesting to see how companies adopt wearable technology and use it to implement effective changes.

Small business EHS software use

Since the EHS software market came into existence, large companies have used these systems to track compliance. But one of the most interesting emerging trends in health and safety is software use at smaller companies.

There are so many options available now that cater to smaller businesses who historically couldn’t afford the investment. Now, with the options to buy features individually or to pay per user, EHS software has become much more accessible to companies of all sizes.

This trend is also fueled by the increasing complexity of maintaining compliance. Now, most companies answer to several regulatory agencies (e.g., OSHA, EPA, FDA, etc.) and managing all their requirements can be a nightmare to do by hand. That, plus the shift away from spreadsheet data management to more user-friendly applications, means more EHS departments will invest in software tools.

Flexible work arrangements

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies have begun to consider and introduce flexible work arrangements. Increasingly, companies use this approach to reduce the spread of illness by allowing sick employees to work remotely without infecting their coworkers.

In the health and safety profession itself, there are now remote and hybrid jobs available that allow EHS leaders to do administrative work from the road or home. This health and safety trend towards remote work will only grow as more companies adopt technology to manage compliance.

The overarching theme among all these health and safety trends is the shift towards technology to manage compliance. Perhaps in the future, we’ll see EHS department budgets grow to accommodate the need for comprehensive compliance solutions. But even if that’s not the case, there’s one thing EHS professionals will never stop doing: figuring out new and innovative ways to keep their workers safe regardless of the tools they have available.