Five EHS Trends to Watch in 2022

Five EHS Trends to Watch in 2022

The world of Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) is an interesting place at the moment – we are still knee-deep in the pandemic and companies of all shapes and sizes are concerned for the safety and well-being of their employees.  At the same time, following on from COP26 and the release of the Environment Act, we are seeing climate action back on the agenda.

EHS professionals will have their work cut out for them as businesses prepare for employees to return to the office, and here are the top five trends I believe we will see in 2022:

Mental health and employee well-being is crucial

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) published the statistics for 2020/21 which found that 1.7 million working people suffered from work-related ill health and out of all the cases reported, a staggering 50% of cases were attributed to workers suffering from stress, depression or anxiety.  The effects of the coronavirus pandemic were unsurprisingly a major contributing factor to this figure and there is most probably a significant number of employees who did not disclose they are suffering mentally and continued to work.

Health and safety is more than just preventing illness and injuries, and is no longer just about physical health.  Employee well-being is on the agenda as the pandemic leaves its mark on people’s mental health. I believe as we start 2022, there will be further focus on mental health and well-being and nurturing a culture where employees can discuss mental health issues openly.  This will expand the scope of EHS within the organisation and will bring about new challenges and opportunities to provide a positive influence on the health of employees.

Remote auditing will continue

For EHS managers, onsite audits have been a necessary evil and the pandemic changed these onsite audits to remote, and they are here to stay, although not exclusively.  The technological advances made over the past few years has allowed for remote auditing to take place, and we have seen great success with remote audits conducted over the last two years.

Auditors are trained to be observant, which means that they look for physical clues that could lead them to a line of questions where there may be doubts as to the effectiveness of a management system.  When conducting audits remotely, many of these clues may be absent or circumvented, such as microphones muted or coaching off screen.

Going into 2022, we will continue to see some remote auditing, and onsite auditing will return, with a balance between the two.

Stakeholder’s expectations for ESG will increase

Stakeholders have the expectation for businesses to be as sustainable as possible and failure to do this can have a detrimental impact on reputation.  Environmental, social and governance (ESG) reporting has become a must for some organisations and with the adoption of standards like SASB, reporting has been standardised as the framework stipulates what needs to be disclosed.

This will lead to more transparent reporting, and a more all-inclusive view of sustainability, taking not only the environment into account but also the business’ social impacts and governance. 

In 2022, we will see businesses driving ESG forward, with more transparent reporting and a large proportion of this reporting will more than likely fall to the EHS teams.

Employee retention will be a major focus for many businesses

Businesses are experiencing a wave of staff turnover, as the “Great Resignation”, a trend that started at the beginning of 2021, continues to rock companies across all industries.  Around the world, millions of people are rethinking how they live and work, and how to better balance the two.

We have yet to see what the post pandemic world and workplace will look like.  Many companies have announced that their employees do not have to return to the office full time, and moving towards a more hybrid structure, where employees may only need to come into the office on 1 – 2 days per week.  Flexible and hybrid working are no longer seen as a perk by employees, with many employees choosing to work for companies that offer this flexibility.

Managing the transition to this new way of working will present many opportunities and challenges to businesses and ensuring the health and well-being of remote workers will be a top priority for the EHS teams.

The digital transformation

As businesses are looking to become smarter and more agile, it’s no surprise that we are turning to technology to help streamline processes.  Digital transformation is not a new concept, many organisations have been going through the transformation for many years now.  The difference is this year, it will not be viewed as a trendy concept, it will become more essential for streamlining business processes and managing the workplace.

The EHS software market is a growing market, and the traditional EHS activities like accident reporting and compliance management will use software to support the business better.

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