Faces of EHS, Safety Culture and Behavioral Safety

Faces of EHS: The Future of Safety Culture

For our latest Faces of EHS feature, we are taking a look back at some of our guests in 2022 to see their answers to the question, “How will safety culture look in the future?” Here’s what they had to say.

Rachel Walla-Housman

I am actually super interested to see how Gen Z will handle workplace safety. From what I’ve experienced with the younger generations, they take personal safety more seriously and aren’t as willing to take risks. They are also the generation that looks for instructions on tasks, so I have seen that they respond quite well to procedures. Many want to see a clear path laid out and know how to protect themselves from workplace hazards.

My biggest concern is the huge loss of industry knowledge we are encountering as more people retire. In my video work, I see companies who are working hard to create videos as well as procedures to capture this expertise. However, there are many companies who are entirely unprepared to lose such a knowledgeable workforce.

Based on these two factors, what I think we will see is companies who are prepared for this enormous generational shift will have a huge advantage over those who are not.

Click here to read the rest of Rachel’s interview.

Gabe Encarnacion

There will be a more holistic view of worker health and safety. For instance, workers’ mental health and physical health will become part of the same discussions regarding total worker health instead of being addressed separately. As our work and personal lives continue to become more intertwined, safety professionals will need to be aware of how workers’ actions at work and home can affect one another.

This is a lot of ground to cover for safety professionals, so communication and collaboration is a must. The most effective safety professionals will know how to build connections with multiple areas of responsibility in their organization. More resources and professional organizations are accessible to safety professionals both online and in real life, presenting opportunities for safety professionals to connect and find support from others in this field.

Click here to read the rest of Gabe’s interview.

Morgan Hager

Truly sustainable development must have safety as its foundation, because without keeping people and communities safe, there can be no long-term success. OSHA has long served as the governing agency that develops the regulations and recommendations needed to ensure that all workers return home safely, but sustainability is a promising movement that provides the potential to exceed OSHA’s traditional role and become a genuinely transformative force industry-wide.

Since occupational health and safety sits squarely at the heart of each area within economic sustainability, whether it is the direct effect on workers or on the development and/or usage of the product, it is easy to see how providing a healthy and safe workplace improves overall performance and how a thriving safety culture can help keep a high-performing organization’s ESG efforts grounded.

Additionally, considering the potential impact and broad reach that a safety crisis can have on an organization, the role that occupational health and safety have in a successful ESG program cannot be overstated or underappreciated, underlining how important the “S” portion of a holistic ESG strategy should be.

Click here to read the rest of Morgan’s interview.

Jac van der Houwen

Safety culture will be changing continuously due to the changes in the environment, and to keep it on the right level for good performance as a company, you need to follow a structure. The way this continuous safety performance as a company works, according to me, is dependent on a couple of steps and starts with the basic knowledge of what is safe, protecting the environment and health of people involved, and keeping us secure.

From this, we develop standards and procedures, so we have this documented. But then the hard work really starts, and that is making sure we all understand what we need to do to keep us safe, protecting the environment and health of all involved and keeping us secure. This means we need to tell people and make them aware. Then we must reinforce the message enough times through training to be able to embrace it and live by it.

We need to make sure we have the resources to work the way we need to work. And then we are still not there because then we need to develop the skills and sustain them. This last part, it looks to me, is forgotten most of the time. We need to be out there to see what is happening with our standards, show what is meant and how, be that role model and coach people both about correcting the wrong ways but definitely also give positive feedback about the things we are doing right.

Click here to read the rest of Jac’s interview.

Brittany Luster

The culture of safety in the future I believe will trend even more towards the installation of technology (robots, AI, digital platforms, etc.) and will require all parties to work harmoniously even more so than they are currently. We are already seeing it take off across many industries, so it would be very naïve of us to think that this isn’t here to stay. We as humans will have to challenge ourselves and mindset to steer clear of “this is always how we’ve done things” in order to navigate towards a culturally safe future.

Click here to read the rest of Brittany’s interview.

Karen Hamel

Young employees who are just now entering the workforce don’t tend to root themselves with one company and stay there until retirement, like former generations did. They demand better, more flexible working conditions; and if they don’t get them, they leave.

If our safety cultures smack of inconsistency, or they are simply not present, young employees will leave for another organization that has its act together. Safety cultures, like other aspects of business, will need to be transparent and consistent.

Click here to read the rest of Karen’s interview.