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Environment Health Safety Regulations: Latest Trends

Jonathan Brun

Environment, Health, and Safety (EHS) regulations are constantly evolving. With new technologies, industries, and environmental concerns emerging, keeping up with the latest trends in EHS regulations is crucial for businesses to remain compliant and avoid costly penalties.This article examines the latest trends in EHS regulations and provides insights into how businesses can adapt and thrive in this ever-changing landscape.

Understanding Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) Regulations

Environmental, Health, and Safety (EHS) regulations play a crucial role in safeguarding the environment, promoting workplace safety, and ensuring public health. These regulations are enforced by governmental bodies to mitigate risks associated with industrial activities. By implementing EHS regulations, companies are required to adopt practices that minimize negative impacts on the environment, prioritize employee well-being, and prevent accidents.

Taking a Stand for Environmental Protection

One thing that stands out in the evolution of EHS regulations is the growing emphasis on environmental protection. Governments and regulatory bodies worldwide have realized the urgency of addressing environmental issues like pollution, climate change, and resource depletion. It’s like they’ve turned up the dial on protecting our beautiful planet. 

Putting Safety at the Forefront

Another crucial element of the evolving EHS regulations is their unwavering commitment to workplace safety. They’re all about valuing human life and well-being. It’s like having a guardian angel looking out for us when we’re on the job. These regulations have given birth to comprehensive safety guidelines and protocols that prioritize proactive risk assessments, thorough safety training, and the implementation of ergonomic practices. It’s all about preventing accidents and injuries in the workplace, ensuring that everyone goes home safe and sound. With new hazards popping up and ever-changing work environments, EHS regulations are there, adapting to address these challenges and keep workers across various industries protected and well.

Prioritizing Public Health

EHS regulations aren’t just concerned about the workplace; they have a soft spot for our overall health. They understand that a healthy population equals a better world. So, they’ve integrated measures to protect us from hazardous substances, maintain air and water quality standards, and even foster health and wellness programs. It’s like having a personal coach cheering us on to be the healthiest versions of ourselves. By continuously adapting to tackle emerging health concerns, EHS regulations play a vital role in safeguarding public health and supporting the well-being of entire communities.

Emerging Trends in EHS Regulations: Navigating Towards Sustainable Future

Some emerging trends in EHS regulations are worth paying attention to. One of the biggest trends is the continued focus on sustainability and environmental stewardship. Companies are expected to prioritize reducing their environmental impacts and implementing sustainable practices. There is particular emphasis on ESG, reporting, and greenhouse gas emissions. 

Data analytics and technology are also becoming increasingly important to enhance EHS programs. Companies are consequently being asked to collect more data and prepare more detailed reports for regulators.

We can expect continued emphasis on workers’ health and safety. The increasing focus seems to be on mental health and wellness, harassment issues, and adopting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) initiatives that promote safety, inclusivity, and equity.

EHS professionals will need to stay up-to-date on the latest safety regulations and best practices and communicate these to workers and management in a way that is both accessible and effective.

Let’s take a look at each of these trends in more detail.

Brands to Prioritize Environmental Justice

Environmental Justice is a concept that gained traction in 2022 when the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established an office to promote environmental justice and civil rights. The principles of environmental justice are as follows:

“The fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies.” 

The U.S. EPA goes on to state,

“Fair treatment means no group of people should bear a disproportionate share of the negative environmental consequences resulting from industrial, governmental and commercial operations or policies.

Simply put, environmental justice, or climate justice, refers to the idea that every person should have access to a healthy and safe environment.”

Since then, a number of governments, such as Ontario in Canada and the Canadian Federal government have begun to enshrine Environmental Justice rights in law. This opens up regulators and companies to a broader interpretation of what is considered to be environmental damage and harm. Companies should consequently conduct a wider analysis of their potential environmental liability and institute programs to get ahead of the curve.

Starbucks’ Coffee and Farmer Equity (CAFE) Practices is an example of a brand taking action on environmental justice. This program is part of their corporate social responsibility that aims to promote sustainable and transparent coffee-growing practices, focusing on the welfare of farmers, workers, and their communities.

This year, there’ll be an increase in efforts by companies to meet higher standards of social and environmental performance due to customer expectations. First Insight reports that Gen Z, like Millennials, base their buying decisions on their values. Many Gen Z shoppers favor eco-friendly brands and are willing to pay 10% more for them. Accordingly, 3 out of 4 Gen Z consumers prioritize sustainability over brand recognition when purchasing.

Health and Safety Programs Will Incorporate a Holistic View of Employee Well-Being

Engineer holding computer notebook high voltage power plant background

Increasing mental health problems associated with COVID-19 have prompted workplace wellness initiatives to include mental health programs. Accordingly, 90% of employers invest in mental health initiatives such as stress management, resilience, and mindfulness and meditation programs.

The rise of this trend coincides with numerous employees opting to resign or quit their jobs altogether due to stress and burnout. Hence, EHS programs prioritizing employee well-being, happiness, and engagement are expected to be significant this year.

The EHS Function impacts Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG)

The intersection of EHS and ESG functions are still being defined. ESG tends to be run out of the corporate headquarters with a focus on reporting, while EHS is typically associated with the operations and has a focus on compliance and management. There is clearly overlap between the two, particularly on issues like waste management, climate risk, employee safety, and mental health. A company who is serious about ESG needs to be serious about EHS as they inevitably interact.

The foundational piece, in theory, for ESG is to ensure compliance with environmental regulations. With ESG’s focus on reporting, this basic function is often overlooked and delegated to the EHS department or local operations. ESG will tend to focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving waste management, and protecting natural resources.

The EHS function can also impact the “S” part of ESG by ensuring workplace safety and promoting employee well-being. It includes implementing health and safety programs, providing training and education on safety issues, and promoting a safety culture throughout the organization.

Lastly, the EHS function makes limited contributions to the “G” part of ESG, but it can contribute by implementing robust management systems such as ISO 14001 or ISO 45001. If the EHS function reinforces corporate governance and policies, it can help drive the G in ESG. This would include implementing policies and procedures to prevent bribery and corruption, ensuring compliance with labor laws and human rights standards, and promoting transparency in reporting.

Effective implementation of ESG requires a mature EHS management system, as inadequate EHS management can hinder achieving ESG goals and objectives.

New ESG Regulations are Set to Increase

Regulatory bodies are increasing ESG disclosure requirements for both public and private companies on a global scale. The number of ESG reporting provisions has increased 74 percent in the past four years, with approximately 400 ESG reporting provisions currently in effect across 80 countries. This trend is expected to continue through 2023.

Additionally, a survey conducted by Ernst & Young found that about 80 percent of 400 institutional investors worldwide believe that companies should prioritize investments that address ESG issues, even if it means a short-term reduction in profits.

However, there’s a notable disparity between the percentage of executives who state their companies have established ESG strategies (95 percent) and those who indicate substantial advancements in implementing them (10 percent). One of the primary challenges they encountered was managing a high volume of manual data and struggling with the consolidation and manipulation of said data.

To address the issue, companies should allocate resources towards acquiring tools to collect, measure, and report ESG data and monitor their progress toward sustainability goals.

Embracing Ergonomics

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) warns that work-related Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are among the leading causes of lost or restricted time at work.

MSDs affect different body areas, including muscles, nerves, blood vessels, ligaments, and tendons. It is caused by lifting heavy objects, moving heavy loads, bending over, pushing, pulling, working in uncomfortable body positions, and performing repetitive tasks.

To prevent them, OSHA recommends the implementation of ergonomics processes. Employers must now ensure that their work environments are ergonomically sound and that their employees are not at risk of developing injuries or strains due to poor design or lack of attention to ergonomics. It can include providing adjustable chairs and desks, ensuring that computer monitors are at the correct height and angle, and training on proper lifting techniques and other ergonomic best practices.

Integration of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) Initiatives Into Safety Programs

While DE&I initiatives aren’t new, safety professionals are integrating them into modern safety programs in their ongoing efforts to maintain a safe environment for all employees. DE&I initiatives in safety programs can take various forms, such as training and education on implicit bias and cultural sensitivity, creating inclusive safety policies and procedures, and ensuring that safety equipment and gear are designed to fit diverse body types and abilities.

For example, safety professionals are helping raise awareness about women’s unique Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) needs and the hazards of ill-fitting PPE in traditionally male-dominated fields like manufacturing.

Additionally, research indicates that 48% of consumers prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts from businesses. As a result, implementing culturally sensitive safety measures can strengthen DE&I initiatives in your company and create a secure and supportive work environment for workers.

The Rise of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

AI and ML are gaining traction in the EHS industry as they offer new ways to improve safety, regulatory compliance, and risk assessment management.

They can analyze large amounts of data, identify patterns, and make predictions. It can be very useful in EHS, where there’s a lot of data to manage and analyze. For example, AI and ML can analyze data from sensors and other monitoring devices to detect potential hazards or environmental risks. Hence, organizations can take proactive measures to prevent accidents before they occur, making the workplace safer.

Predictive maintenance is another area where AI and ML can thrive. By analyzing data from equipment, AI and ML can predict when maintenance is needed, allowing companies to address issues before they become bigger problems.

Utilizing EHS Software to Manage ESG Responsibilities

As businesses rely more on the EHS function to advance ESG efforts, safety experts must handle the challenging job of collecting, organizing, and disclosing operational information. Many environmental, health and safety professionals are now turning to EHS compliance software tools for assistance.

Additionally, mobile EHS platforms are expected to play an increasingly important role in helping companies track and report their ESG performance this year and in the future. Safety leaders and employees will have access to safety information on the go, which can aid in managing ESG responsibilities.

To keep up with the changing demands of ESG, EHS software vendors have been making significant investments to improve their systems. The result will be greater innovation and advancement in EHS/ESG software features, which is good news for customers.

Get the Latest Trends in EHS Regulations Easily With Nimonik

Keeping up with the latest trends in environmental, health, and safety (EHS) regulations can be daunting for companies of any size. However, Nimonik provides an easy solution to stay informed.

Nimonik is a robust legal compliance obligations software platform that helps organizations monitor and manage the ever-changing landscape of EHS regulations. The platform has a comprehensive database of global EHS regulations covering different industries, jurisdictions, and topics.

With Nimonik, organizations can:

  • Receive updates about proposed and current changes to laws and regulations
  • Generate audit reports in PDF, Word, or CSV formats that you can share with auditors, legal teams, and other stakeholders
  • Access over 2,000 free audit templates based on standards and best practices
  • Create audits based on your own EHS compliance requirements
  • Rank risk obligations based on their importance and link them to your internal controls
  • Receive notifications in real-time about new or updated regulations

Contact us and see how much you can save!

FAQs About the Latest Trends in EHS Regulations

What are some best practices for EHS management?

Best practices for EHS management include implementing a robust EHS compliance program, an EHS management system, conducting regular risk assessments and audits, providing comprehensive employee training, engaging stakeholders, monitoring compliance, improving EHS performance.

What is the role of sustainability in EHS management?

Sustainability plays a vital role in EHS management by considering the long-term environmental, social, and economic impacts of business activities. It involves integrating sustainable practices, reducing resource consumption and minimizing waste generation.

What is occupational safety and why is it important in EHS management?

Occupational safety focuses on preventing workplace accidents, injuries, and illnesses. It involves identifying and mitigating workplace hazards, implementing safety protocols, providing personal protective equipment, and conducting safety training. 

How can organizations ensure effective risk assessment and management in EHS?

Organizations can ensure effective risk assessment and management in EHS by establishing a systematic approach. This includes identifying hazards, assessing risks, and implementing control measures.

What is corporate social responsibility and how does it relate to EHS?

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) refers to a company’s commitment to act ethically and contribute to sustainable development. In the context of EHS, CSR involves integrating environmental and social concerns into business practices.