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2018 EHS Industry Predictions


2018 Thought Leader Predictions.jpg 

On the path to protecting people and planet the role of the environmental, health, and safety (EHS) professional has evolved over the years. While moving beyond traditional activities like ensuring regulatory compliance and reporting requirements, today’s EHS leaders are now tasked with keeping a watchful eye on consumer demands, corporate sustainability goals, shifting regulatory landscapes, technological advances, and a long list of factors necessary for maintaining their organization’s EHS program.


Heading into a new year, the editorial team at Enviance had a chance to connect with some of the EHS industry’s most notable thought leaders to discuss trends and get their predictions for 2018.


A common theme among the predictions is the role technology will play this year, and beyond. Where, once considered a laggard when it came to embracing new technology, the EHS industry as a whole seems to be much more open-minded when it comes to adopting and implementing new tools to predict and prevent EHS-related incidents.  


And while it’s difficult to tell just how far the industry will evolve over the next 12 months, it’s safe to say that we will continue to see some pretty exciting advancements made in 2018.


2018 EHS Industry Predictions

More Accountability for the EH&S Leader

carol_singer_nuvelt.jpgCarol Singer Nuvelt,
Executive Director


One of the biggest trends we’re seeing is the continuing evolution of the EH&S business function and its relationship to how companies are managing business risks. 

Twenty years ago, companies had functions to manage environmental compliance; then it was EH&S; and next it was EH&S and sustainability. Today, these business functions are being tasked with the responsibility for addressing product stewardship, business continuity, social responsibility and risk management as well. To manage such challenges, EH&S and Sustainability professionals need to be both cross-functional managers as well as experts in their fields – all while being internal change makers and outward facing business leaders at the same time.

At the same time, resources are limited for many EH&S and sustainability functions, so managers are embedding their programs into other business functions and focusing on data management to achieve results. They are also using data more effectively. Now that companies are digitizing their management systems, they are able to use predictive analytics to understand where their EH&S risks are and which ones pose the greatest business risk. This is particularly important in light of the explosion of regulatory requirements among emerging markets around the world. Data management systems are the key to finding the areas with the greatest potential for risk and for making stretched resources go farther.


The Mobile Movement Will Empower Front Line Workers

david_metcalfe_heads_a9BpF.jpgDavid Metcalfe,

Chief Executive Officer & Co-Founder



According to a recent Verdantix global survey, 35% of respondents perceive the use of technology as a “must have” for successful business management. And while there’s no question that information is paramount to the success of a world-class EHS program, getting everyone in the company, especially front-line workers, aligned on the importance of data collection has been a stumbling block for most organizations.


As the EHS community continues to embrace innovative technologies such as wearable devices, beacons, and drones, I believe that we will start to see a paradigm shift in how companies collect and analyze data.


Leading this effort will be the front-line worker who, through the adoption of mobile technology, will be more empowered than ever before to help their company gather the information needed to make better business decisions. As a result, there will be a cultural shift from a top-down to a peer-to-peer collaborative approach taken to achieve specific EHS goals.


Increasing Focus on the "Whole Human"

john_dony-1.jpgJohn Dony,
Director, Campbell Institute

Director, EHS and Sustainability
National Safety Council (NSC)

More and more organizations progressed on their journeys to zero in 2017 - and found themselves having to address higher and higher hanging fruit to make meaningful change. These sorts of issues can generally be categorized as "Whole Human" ones. I expect to see:




  • Increased focus on health & wellbeing, particularly its integration into mainstream safety activities and safety professionals' jobs.
  • Continued engagement in human performance research and science, including integration of non-traditional fields like neuroscience and visual literacy.
  • Conversation around how "Industry 4.0" solutions (automation, big data, wearables, drones, IoT) intersect with individuals and groups.


Standards, Banding, and Occupational Exposure to Opioids Will Drive Action

mark_ames.jpgMark Richard Ames

Director, Government Relations
American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA)


While standards can sometimes get caught up in the anti-regulatory fever currently gripping Washington, DC, the advent of ISO 45001 – a forthcoming standard for occupational health and safety management systems – will be one of the major developments guiding workplaces around the world to higher levels of safety as businesses begin using it and governments begin incorporating it into statute.


Occupational exposure banding (OEBs) will play a big role in 2018 and beyond as well. It has been well-documented that current methods of assessing the potential impacts on workers of the many chemicals to which they are exposed are largely inadequate, and do not keep pace with market innovations. OEBs are a tool to help address these challenges. NIOSH is playing a leading role in this area, and it will be exciting to see what they produce in partnership with stakeholders.


There’s an aspect of the opioid epidemic that few people are talking about right now – but that will change: The need to protect first responders and others from occupational exposure to opioids and their potent synthetic analogues, such as fentanyl and carfentanyl. During the course of providing medical treatment or while conducting law enforcement activities, fire fighters, emergency medical services personnel, police, and many others are at risk of exposure to opioids and their synthetic analogues. We have an obligation to help protect those who protect and help us during our times of greatest need. To do this, across the country policymakers, OEHS professionals, and those who may be exposed to opioids should come together to better identify the specific activities or scenarios that place them at risk, identify the work practices and PPE needed to reduce this risk, develop specific practical guidance and training to control exposure, and provided targeted and widespread training to all workers who may be exposed. This is already happening in some areas, and will in all likelihood continue in 2018, as policymakers and professionals increasingly become aware of this prevalent problem.


Energy Storage Booms

jennifer_hermes.jpgJennifer Hermes,
Editorial Director
Energy Manager Today


The energy storage industry has seen significant advances in recent years, and in 2018, such advances are set to soar, both in terms of technology and deployments. In 2017, a variety of projects and regulatory changes hinted at the expected growth. For example, earlier in 2017 New York Governor Andrew Cuomo created a bill to develop a statewide energy storage target - and it was the fourth state in the country to do so.


As targets such as this proliferate, so will large-scale deployments. Energy storage projects will be particularly prevalent in the area of solar, and less so in other areas of renewable energy sources. With advancements in technology, energy storage will become increasingly important, both on the utility side and on-site at commercial and industrial facilities. And as the industry evolves, the grid will become more reliable and we can expect to see prices for end-users begin to fall.


Importance of Occupational Health Gains Ground

dr_alan_page.jpgDr. Alan Page
Associate Professor
Middlesex University


We all recognize the importance of occupational health as highlighted by stress now being the biggest reason for absence in the UK. But stress is not the only issue and we have to think about fatigue, shift patterns, bullying and mental health, occupational noise and vibration; as well as exposure to agents such as respirable crystalline silica.


I can foresee new roles for those involved in occupational safety and health to encompass well-being and using the work place as a positive component of living; adoption of wearable technology to monitor health at work; and clear focus on health and well-being as part of the protection of the workforce.


The Rise of 3D Safety Management

slamarre_large.jpgSteven J. LaMarre,
North Regional EHS Manager
Carrier Corporation


The current trend has been behavior-based safety (BBS) vs human and organizational performance (HOP). Some articles discuss the combination of the two and I predict this thinking will gain traction in 2018. HOP is based off of the concept that 90% of operational upsets are human error and that 70% of those human errors are systems induced.


Since this accounts for 63% of all operational upsets we should focus on this and not equipment operation or human behavior. It is time to connect the dots and introduce a three dimensional safety program that tackles all of the pie. Why can't we focus on all three sources of operational upset in one safety management program? The short answer is practitioners have already adapted current implementations of BBS, HOP, etc. to catch all upset sources, so it makes sense one of these three dimensional programs will rise above the current conflict and become the next safety management trend.





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