Federal law states that employers have a duty to keep the workplace free of known health and safety hazards. Over the years, safety rules and regulations have evolved, with some industries showing more maturity than others. The pandemic changed that pace. First, we witnessed how the lockdown had a detrimental impact on businesses and safety investment and training. Business survival required fast and constant structural adjustments to endure the pandemic and keep workers safe. Health and safety soon became one of the top priorities of businesses worldwide.
Companies looking to improve workplace safety have many methods at their disposal. But to create a sustainable safety culture, they must overcome the mindsets that define safe or unsafe behaviors. The good news is that Sphera’s Safety Survey 2021 found a heightened focus on safety and building a culture of well-being within the workplace.
A promising outlook.
A comparison with Sphera’s previous survey results showed that the top drivers for safety performance have evolved. Compliance is important, but so is creating a safety culture. An overwhelming 75% of the respondents said that safety is part of their corporate culture. 52% of respondents from large organizations (those with over 10,000 employees) indicated that improving safety performance is a key driver.
While these were heartening results, the survey found a deep disconnect between awareness and a well-defined roadmap to improve safety performance. Only 40% said they have a well-defined roadmap to improve safety performance. 21% said that there is a gap between safety intent and the reality of what happens. In a world with a heightened awareness of safety, this gap is concerning.
The laser focus on safety.
Businesses focused on their Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) goals realize that safety is an integral part of a resilient and sustainable future. The lockdown’s impact on health and safety became one of the most pressing business priorities across sectors. The survey found that health and safety management is as important as process safety management and operational risk management to meet the need for heightened safety standards.
Adoption of digitization and automation technologies.
The lockdown also meant a tectonic shift in the way we work. Unprecedented restrictions on travel, changes in consumer behavior and lack of in-person interactions dominated the conversation. Work did not stop, but the way companies operate did with the increased adoption of digitization and automation technologies. Instead of months or years, we witnessed rapid digital transformations happening across industry sectors in weeks.
As businesses seek to resume operations with an increased focus on safety, demand for better technology and integrated systems increases. Process safety has focused on risk and Major Accident Hazard (MAH) for years. But the year that we went through shows an increasing focus on Health and Safety Management (HSM) as well. 77% of respondents said they their Health and Safety software to integrate with their central IT systems.
Optimizing efficiencies and minimizing downtime is high on the agenda, as is the focus on breaking away from silos to a holistic safety performance across the organization. With facility integrity and workers’ health and safety at the forefront of their goals, companies are looking at automation and digitalization to protect workers and keep profit margins strong. They need robust, single platforms to integrate their process safety and health and safety solutions into one system.
A centralized and not disparate system will enable proper communication and provide a holistic view to broadening the safety conversation. An integrated system that allows for better incident management will lead to better learnings and preventive measures. It will help companies achieve their safety performance goals and pave the way for a resilient, sustainable future.
About the report
Sphera Report 2021 surveyed 349 risk, process safety, and health and safety professionals to get a broad view of safety across the enterprise. They hailed from a cross section of global industries like Manufacturing, Oil and Gas, Chemicals/Petrochemicals, Energy, Construction, Professional Services and Government. The report explored the key challenges for building a resilient safety culture and how to overcome them.
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