97% of workplaces are unprepared for EHS risks

97% of workplaces are unprepared for EHS risks

A recent report by Focus Network and HSI, an environment, health and safety (EHS) solutions provider, found that 97% of workplaces across North America, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and other parts of the world are unprepared for EHS risks.

The 2024 Global EHS Readiness Report featured over 1,000 EHS leaders across the globe and was designed to provide EHS leaders with insights that could help them identify gaps in their EHS activities and optimise outcomes.

Each organisation was given an EHS maturity score between 0-100 based on 10 components of EHS functions which will be discussed in the next section of this blog post.

In this blog post, we’ll be breaking down the report by the numbers and discussing potential solutions to some of the challenges seen in the report.

How companies' EHS maturity was measured

From the survey of over 1,000 EHS leaders, 37% of respondents were from North America, 29% from Australia and New Zealand, 26% from the UK and the remaining from other parts of the world.

EHS maturity was measured based on how well the organisations scored in the 10 components of EHS maturity, that is:

  1. Adoption and engagement: Focuses on usability and how the workforce can access and engage with the EHS function. Takes into account engagement metrics of platform interfaces.
  2. Operational enablement: Relates to technology and how it can adapt to EHS requirements, outcomes and flexibility to meet different needs.
  3. Knowledge capital: Addresses training, learning and certifications of relevant stakeholders and team members.
  4. Data reporting: Relates to the creation, customisation, dissemination, and analysis of reliable data to support the EHS function
  5. Workforce management: Relates to systems and processes that help the workforce perform their roles safely and effectively i.e. incident tracking.
  6. Environmental sustainability: Deals with activities within the EHS function that allow organisations to establish, track and optimise their performance against a set of sustainability targets.
  7. Psychosocial and mental health: Addresses how organisations can proactively and responsively manage their workforce’s mental health and wellbeing.
  8. Integrations: This component has to do with the extent to which EHS applications are integrated with each other.
  9. Security and privacy: Relates to how organisations can access and manage sensitive data. Assesses cybersecurity tools and policies that prevent data breaches.
  10. Compliance obligations: Focuses on activities that enable EHS leaders to adhere to relevant requirements and regulations, be they industrial, legal or jurisdictional.

Maturity scores

Each of the 10 components above is assessed and given a maturity score between 1 to 100. An organisation’s average of all the scores recorded will be its final maturity score.

Their respective scores will place them in one of four stages of EHS maturity explained below:

  1. Foundational (Maturity score of less than 50): Indicates that EHS risk management is comparatively weak.
  2. Operational (Maturity score of 50 to 60): This shows that digital solutions are being used for core areas and attention is shown to improving adoption of EHS policies and EHS engagement within the workforce.
  3. Progressive (Maturity score of 60 to 70): Indicates that digital solutions are widely used, and there is a significant focus on data sharing and analytics.
  4. Dynamic (Maturity score of 70 or over): Indicates a future-ready state in terms of EHS.

Most organisations in the study (67.1%) were classified as operational, while only 3% were in the dynamic stage.

EHS readiness by the numbers

From the published report, we can see that most companies have an EHS system in place, but nearly 20% of organisations continue to use paper and spreadsheet-based processes.

Only 3% of EHS programs surveyed are in a state of preparedness (dynamic stage), while 67.1% are in the operational stage. 21.2% of organisations were in the progressive stage, while 8.7% were in the foundational stage.

Compliance obligations recorded the highest mean maturity score at 66.5, while environmental sustainability had the lowest at 47.2.

The construction industry recorded the lowest mean maturity score at 49.3 despite being a high-risk industry. The healthcare industry recorded the best mean maturity score at 63.6.

Oil and gas, and mining and metals were two industries with very high risks, Despite this, both industries averaged an operational level of maturity.

In terms of challenges faced by leaders in regard to EHS readiness, nearly half of these leaders (47%) cite a lack of connectivity as their leading challenge. The same percentage of leaders reported a skill gap and low awareness of the EHS function as another challenge.

The biggest challenge reported by EHS leaders (75%) has to do with technology-related issues and complexities.

57% of these respondents find it extremely important to have a single technology platform. However, only 16% claim to have a unified platform.

77% of companies identified having low levels of connectivity, exposing them to cyber risks.

68% of organisations reported gaps in their security and privacy capabilities from an EHS perspective.

42% say that reducing the admin burden of EHS is one of the most critical outcomes expected from implementing a new technology platform.

From a lot of these statistics here, we see that one of the largest barriers to ensuring an organisation is EHS-ready is a failure to adopt a convenient digital EHS platform.

Leading EHS priorities

From the data gathered, four priorities of EHS technology investments have been identified below:

  1. Reducing incidents and injuries: By far the most important priority of the EHS function, organisations seek to use technology and data to improve EHS outcomes which are measured by the number of accidents and injuries that occur at the workplace.
  2. Reducing administrative burden: This is an important outcome outlined by 42% of EHS leaders. A common theme found from the survey was that EHS leaders seek solutions to reduce costs and complexities by using one unified system.
  3. Driving workforce engagement: EHS leaders place increased importance on engaging their workforce to adopt EHS processes, as many leaders cite EHS processes not being adequately used and embedded into operations.
  4. Increased visibility into EHS performance: This has to do with making EHS KPIs and statistics more visible to the organisation as a whole. Using disparate systems and multiple dashboards makes it difficult to get a single source of truth across the organisation.

Best practices for EHS components

The report also outlined best practices for each of the 10 components of EHS maturity and offers guidance on how leaders can optimise these outcomes. They are explained below:

  • Compliance obligations: Best compliance practices include identifying, adapting and responding to emerging regulations across operational jurisdictions, streamlining compliance programs using automated audit schedules, and maintaining audit-ready records that generate timely and accurate reports.
  • Security and privacy: Ideally, platforms should have strict privileged access protocols, secure individual logins, and robust compliance with international standards such as ISO27001. Security audits should be conducted regularly to assess vulnerabilities.
  • Integrations: Supports live feed and batch data importing/exporting with a well-documented API for clients.
  • Psychosocial and mental health: Systems should be able to collect, track and monitor psychosocial incidents and near misses while offering immediate training and support for mental health incidents. With AI integration, analysing data regularly can help identify trends for ongoing improvement.
  • Environmental sustainability: With most organisations still in the foundational stage of this, best practices for sustainability in terms of EHS would be to integrate environmental and sustainability data within the EHS program, develop specific environmental KPIs for monitoring and reporting and ensure compliance with regulations and permits through digital alerts.
  • Workforce management: Workforce management systems should empower remote workers with online and offline tools. Team members should not only be able to stay connected with each other but also with external stakeholders including contractors and vendors across sites.
  • Data reporting: Data reporting should be easily accessible, able to be viewed in real-time and customisable to meet the varying needs of team members.
  • Knowledge capital: In order to equip team members with practical knowledge and training, the report believes that tailored training assigned digitally based on roles and behaviour is the way to go. It will be of significant help for organisations to have a library with diverse content for training needs and a document hub for managing materials, policies and compliance reports.
  • Operational enablement: Giving workers the ability to create automation for smoother activities and processes. Platforms should also have customisable dashboards that show specific data and data-driven insights that trigger workflows for EHS activities like incident response or protocols.
  • Adoption and engagement: Bringing together various solutions and apps under one EHS platform, creating programs and maintaining clear, ongoing communication, training and support.

Leading EHS program challenges

Among the questions asked in the survey was, ‘What are the biggest challenges your organisation is facing when it comes to moving your EHS program forward?’. 47% of respondents cited multiple disconnected solutions and skill gaps as the main challenge.

41% also cited employee adoption and culture as an issue. Other issues mentioned include a lack of limited technology, securing a budget, competing organisational priorities, and allocating resources, among others.

When it came to concerns and hesitations relating to implementing a new EHS management platform, achieving executive support was the leading concern, with 46% of respondents citing this issue. The other top two problems were a lack of implementation resources and securing the budget for the platform, which saw 41% and 40% of respondents cite.

Other concerns include an inability to show ROI on the investment (30%), migrating from legacy systems (21%), and security of data and integrations (28%).

Conclusion

As discussed, most organisations are in the operational stage of EHS maturity and are yet to advance into the progressive and eventual dynamic stage. However, with the right tweaks, these organisations will be on the right track.

However, the fact that 8.7% of organisations are still in the foundational stage could spell disaster should any workplace incidents occur, as they would be unprepared and unable to deal with it in the best manner possible.

Having multiple disconnected solutions is one of the biggest problems in EHS maturity, as it could cause fragmented data, inefficiencies and inaccurate insights. This will cause complications in managing risks, creating gaps in compliance and hindering holistic views of operations.

ANZ organisations recorded a mean maturity score of 56.1. Ranking .5 and 2.1 points below the US and the UK, respectively.

Building a single-source unified EHS platform is a big solution to the problem of EHS readiness, as 84% of EHS leaders do not use an integrated and unified EHS platform, 20% do not have any dedicated EHS technology but instead use spreadsheets, paper and email to support EHS processes.

However, to implement a unified platform, a culture of EHS awareness would need to be fostered. This can be done through consistent communications and incentives and the dissemination of information like this blog resource and report.

Providing extensive training to bridge the skill gap is also a viable option, as this would help solve the issue of employee adoption. Through the study of reports like this one, organisations will be able to create metrics for tracking success and showcasing the platform’s positive impact on EHS and productivity.

Using a single unified platform is of paramount importance, especially in high-risk industries such as the aforementioned oil and gas, mining and metals, and agriculture fields.

When it comes to breath alcohol data tracking, the Andalink data management system is a one-stop platform that allows EHS leaders to track blood alcohol content (BAC) data of their employees. These leaders will then be notified of any failed tests by email so they can make informed decisions immediately.

The Andalink data management system also allows users to record BAC data from multiple work sites as long as a compatible Andatech breathalyser is employed.


Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for general reference only. Please seek advice from professionals according to your business’s needs.

Written by Wafi Rashid

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