How Technological Advancements Are Shaping Environmental Health and Safety in 2024

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The environmental, health and safety (EHS) department is the unsung hero of many organizations. This vital team does more than keep a company on the good side of the government. It’s instrumental in attaining sustainability, fostering a healthy workplace culture and keeping employees out of harm’s way.

Fulfilling the EHS department’s duties and responsibilities can be challenging. Thankfully, modern technology has given rise to various environmental, health and safety trends that make compliance easier.

1. Promoting Circularity

Actively participating in the circular economy is one of the best things enterprises can do to impact the environment positively.

Circularity is about reducing waste by consuming biodegradable materials and preserving the value of non-biodegradable ones to keep them in circulation for as long as possible. Prolonging everything’s service life, renting, sharing or buying used instead of brand new, and choosing recyclable items are textbook circular practices.

Going circular is easier than ever because of numerous technological advancements. For instance, modular construction allows real estate developers to build structures optimized for deconstruction. This makes it easy to recover debris for reuse or recycling when components reach their end of life.

Other examples include renewable energy generation systems, asset-sharing platforms and charitable donation brokerage solutions. If you’re an EHS manager, draw inspiration from circular innovations to pursue sustainable initiatives.

2. Boosting Climate Resilience

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There are many green building certifications available that help companies combat climate catastrophes. Reputable certifying bodies develop standards to help identify the right renovations or design eco-friendly structures from scratch to build resilience to global warming’s adverse effects.

Sustainable building certifications are subject to improvement. New versions reflect prevailing sentiments, updated government regulations and new climate action targets.

Qualifying for relevant green building certifications should be at the heart of every environmental, social and governance strategy. Getting certified allows a business to achieve its sustainability goals and earn brownie points with various stakeholders, including regulators and tenants.

Getting certified is one thing, but maintaining it is another. Find out if there’s an expiration date and steps on renewing your certifications you must know.

3. Increasing Supply Chain Visibility

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Artificial intelligence, data analytics, logistics processes automation, blockchain and customer software portals cure supply chain obscurity. Combining these innovations enables you to monitor inventory levels, identify inefficiencies, increase communication and collaboration with partners, and reduce disruptions. The more you track your orders’ movement throughout their journeys granularly, the more you can take steps to minimize your carbon footprint.

4. Fine-Tuning Wellness Programs

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Corporate wellness programs are some of the hottest environmental health and safety trends because of millennials and Gen Zers. Young adults spend about $120 monthly on health-related purchases — including gym memberships, activewear and personal trainers — because they prioritize fitness.

Discerning EHS managers know being mentally well is just as important as being physically fit. Leveraging predictive analytics, statistical modeling, and machine learning techniques yields valuable insights to create a safe and supportive workplace environment.

You can only analyze what you can measure. Collect data on work patterns, attendance, sick days, productivity, engagement and stressors to understand employee well-being. Crunch the numbers to learn your existing program’s inadequacies and develop targeted interventions to keep everybody fulfilled.

5. Preventing Data Breaches

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Health care is a favorite target of cybercriminals. In 2022, 148 out of 649 attacks focused on the critical infrastructure of health care organizations. Although hackers primarily go after patient records, they don’t spare hospital or clinic staff information.

In response, organizations are spending 55% of their information technology budgets for 2024 on data security. Multi-factor authentication, routine security audits, encryption, and blockchain are some of the top environmental health and safety trends in the space. Investing in these technologies can prevent costly data leakage and reliable sensitive data security positively impacts employee safety.

6. Detecting Hazards

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Smart clothes help workers in risky industries make informed decisions to stay safe and healthy. Advanced textiles containing interwoven circuitry, sensors or hardware to capture workplace hazard data comprise these garments.

For example, smart helmets have a sensor band optimized for measuring the wearer’s vital signs, catching various health parameters in real time. They can detect fatigue and microsleep, alerting and advising the wearer to take a break.

Smart glasses harness augmented reality to warn the wearer of dangers so they can watch their steps and find a safer route. Pollution shirts have an ink that switches hues upon sensing specific gases, notifying everyone about and neutralizing silent killers on the construction site.

7. Averting Accidents

In construction, feeding analytics software with predictive modeling capability with historical safety incident reports can help you glean lessons from the past to prevent similar accidents. Incorporating industry trends can determine which areas are more dangerous than others. EHS professionals and other key stakeholders can work together to determine what went wrong and how best to address it.

8. Simplifying Compliance Management

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Keeping up with the latest regulatory updates is a perennial EHS challenge. It generally involves regularly checking government sites, stalking regulatory agencies on social media, opting into newsletters, joining industry associations, forging relationships with policymakers, attending events and touching base with peers. However, these techniques are old-fashioned and inefficient.

Adopting compliance management software helps streamline this process. This tool tracks compliance tasks, reminds you of deadlines, and makes it easy to review procedures and policies, store documents, automate continuous monitoring, and perform regular audits.

This software is powerful but only useful if you have a suitable kind. Many are generic, albeit feature-rich. Some are industry-specific, enabling you to adhere to standards relevant to your field. The others apply to governance, risk and compliance, which can integrate with other tools to ease data exchange between systems.

Adopt Innovative Environmental Health and Safety Trends

EHS is ever-evolving — thankfully, so is technology. Innovations solve old problems but may create new ones. Understand the limitations of every tech you embrace to set your expectations accordingly and address its deficiencies. With time, these adoptions will demonstrate their transformative abilities and prove how they can inform the success of brands worldwide.

  • Beth Rush

    Beth Rush is the green wellness editor at Body+Mind, a health and wellness brand. She covers topics like sustainable agriculture and plant-based recipes. You can find Beth on Twitter @bodymindmag. Subscribe to Body+Mind for more posts by Beth!

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