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Flashback: Revisiting Our 2018 EHS Trend Predictions

2018 was a big year for the EHS industry.

The past year saw the strongest hurricane to hit the continental US since Andrew, the release of a landmark report by the UN scientific panel on climate change, a much-anticipated midterm election, and more regulatory changes than we can count. 

Before we look ahead to 2019, we thought it might be interesting to revisit our 2018 EHS trend predictions and see how well we did -- or didn't -- predict the future. 

Prediction 1: EHS spending will increase — especially for technology

Not only did companies spend more in 2018, there's no sign of stopping in the new year: Worldwide spending on EHS will increase by 4% in 2019 compared to 2018 according to the latest Verdantix survey. Digital technologies remain a top priority. 

Prediction 2: EHS directors will choose configurable, cloud-based software

We've written a lot about cloud software here and here this year, and it continues to be high on EHS directors' wish lists. According to the 2018 State of the Cloud Survey, 93% percent of organizations now use cloud technologies.

Prediction 3: Companies will embrace voluntary environmental programs

This year we've seen many environmental regulations, such as the Clean Power Plan, slashed or erased entirely. Consequently, more companies are leaning on voluntary environmental programs like ISO 14001 to guide their performance. To that end, resiliency is emerging as a key strategy for many companies. 

Prediction 4: More states will adopt cap-and-trade programs

Adoption has been slow, but we've seen several victories for cap-and-trade in 2018. New Jersey rejoined the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), and the recent election set the stage for the passage of a cap-and-trade bill in Oregon in the coming year. 

Prediction 5: Smart PPE wearables and sensors will enhance safety

There's no question the demand for smart PPE is growing: A new report forecast the global Smart PPE market to increase 15.43% by 2021. The greatest investments in smart PPE have come from the mining, automotive, oil and gas, fire safety, manufacturing, and emergency services sectors. Whether or not this increased investment in smart PPE will translate into safer workplaces remains an important question for 2019. 

Prediction 6: EHS management will focus on prediction and prevention

Our blog posts on near miss reporting (here, here, and here) have been among our most popular articles in 2018. It's a sign that leading indicators are top-of-mind for EHS leaders. This may be due in part to the newly released GRI 403: Occupational Health and Safety 2018 reporting standard, which emphasizes the use of leading indicators.

Prediction 7: Leading organizations will implement climate risk management

The good news: The vast majority of companies acknowledge that climate change poses financial risks to their business, with 83% recognizing physical risks and 88% identifying risks from policy changes and new regulations, according to a survey by the CDP and the Climate Disclosure Standards Board (CDSB).

The bad news: the research shows a "clear" disconnect between awareness and concerted action. For example, the survey found that responsibility for climate action is rarely linked to boards' or management teams' wages, remuneration packages, bonuses or performance assessment, with only 1 in 10 companies providing incentives for board members to effectively manage climate-related risks and opportunities.

Prediction 8: Mobile apps will improve efficiency

To confirm this prediction, we need look no further than our own customers. In 2018, we released a new mobile app called Workspace XPress that enables companies to capture employee observations and near misses in real-time. It's been helping our customers to efficiently collect and analyze data from thousands of employees across their organization.

Prediction 9: Big data will continue to influence decision-making

As the volume of business data worldwide doubles every 1.2 years, organizations are finding new ways to turn data into insight. In the EHS industry specifically, we've seen an increased interest in managing data at the asset level for better decision making. We've also seen more companies looking for ways to capture data, such as employee observations and near misses, in real-time. 

Prediction 10: Behavior-based safety will make a comeback

Behavior-based safety is back, but it looks a lot different than it did a decade ago. In Safety + Health Magazine, for example, experts from global consulting firm DEKRA Insight called for a revolution in behavior-based safety in 2018. Among their recommendations: abandoning paper and pencil in favor of more accurate technology-based data collection and analysis tools, and using dynamic dashboards to "allow people from across your organization to access critical exposure information and create a sense of ownership around safety performance".

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