2017 has been a decent year for HSE! No Major industrial disasters, Yes, Grenfel towers fire in UK which claimed 100 lives was a black mark. President Trump’s budget cuts for abolishing CSB escaped with some common sense prevailing at last. The board shall be around to poke its nose in to disasters and give practical suggestions that go a long way to make chemical plants / operations much safer. The regulatory frame-work saw no major hurdles to scrap/abolish laws like Ergonomic standard, I2P2, or Silica norms. The ISO 45001 looks almost certain to see the light of the day in 2018. In Indian context, 2017 too had been a decent year, except for thermal power plant incident in IV Qtr, which killed 40 workmen. Legislative front was mundane, which is disappointing but not very unexpected given our parliament has the lowest sitting rate of just 70 days in a year.
So what is 2018 is in store for HSE front from global standpoint as well from Indian overview? My thoughts are as below! I am just crystal gazing based on what I see across in my interactions.
- Regulatory framework would be all about RISK Based Approach. collaboration, working on reduce ill health risk, liabilities reduction, would take priority to reduce worker compensation costs. I am beginning to see organisation across continents trying to align to bring conformance framework on workmen health, injury prevention, Industrial Hygiene, irrespective of local government brining in regulations. This may be more to Cover their Ass in the litigation based “Rainmaker/Ambulance chaser environment” but good thing is it is happening.
- I see HSE funding to corporate etc being allowed to be kept at the same level across. Additional funding is out of question. Managing more with less is the order of the day so professionals need to align themselves to work with bare minimum and implement minimum adequate.
- ISO 45001 standard should be out by II QTR 2018. The standard gives an awesome opportunity to organisations to reshape their OHS journey through Risk based approach, Leadership Engagement. The standard helps companies to embrace consultation across to establish a safer workplace.
- I am positive that 2018, may mark the beginning of end of Behaviour Based Safety. I was always against BBS in a larger sense. Poor BBS program being used as ONE TRICK PONY, unless established after full maturity of Engineering Excellence, Systems, Process, Procedures, Programs, PPE as well as elimination of barriers like incompetent people, lack of hazard recognition, lack of skilled labor in the work place. Programs that drives on Principle 101, that people are wired to err, mistake, absent-minded. All behavioural interventions need to work on this premise shall begin to be churned out towards end 2018 or beyond in key sectors like Manufacturing. There is an immense opportunity.
- As BBS shall fade in to sunset, I see from 2019 and beyond, process shall be so designed with First principle,to Err is Human. Mistake proofing, pre job inspection, Last Minute Risk Assessment shall become the way to execute tasks in a safe way without mistake pointing/ fault-finding. Even incident investigation would move away from fault of a person as main remedial measures. Companies from 2019 or so would begin to see accident/incidents as “Mistakes of Management” as a component that requires probing. Interested parties would bring pressure on such approach. Gone are days of blaming people.
- More and more organisations from 2018 and beyond would work for an integrated approach towards bringing safety in line with Quality, Productivity, Inventory, Delivery, Cost. These will form the bedrock. Also such approach shall keep the company employee as prime customer to make quality output happen. Amazing that in 2017, I am typing that this shall be the way, considering this was what we used to call “ELEMENTARY MY DEAR WATSON in 2007”. Visual Management, rapid problem solving, Set up time reduction, Knowledge sharing shall be across all functions not just across production as is the case in most organisation. EHS would work on Balance Score card, Proactive metrics.
- Regulators, Policy makers, NGOs, Corporates shall come to some common understanding given hostile political environment that exist! The Trump, the BREXIT etc would easily hijack their agenda, if minimum common program is not worked. Friendly Enemies (Frenemy) amongst all of the above clan would be the norm, to live and let live.
- Technology in aid of EHS would become common place, use of Apps, Digitization would rule the roost. Many companies could seriously miss the bus if they do not jump in to the bandwagon.
- EHS Due diligence would get more focus, of course, merger acquisitions would hit road block, I see active investors with maverick ideas would be hell-bent on splitting the companies to get their pound of flesh. So there shall be demand for EHS talent pool in split entity.
- With a lot of political uncertainty across the globe, Health warnings due to new unknown virus etc, besides unseasonal freakish weather pattern, “BUSINESS Continuity Planning” would get better focus.
- Much to my dislike, even by 2018 and beyond, Sustainability, CSR, would continue to dominate organisation reports, thus hoodwink customers, stakeholders, authorities! I don’t see that going to rest in grave in my lifetime! If there is a thing, I loathe it is these stupid elements which have driven away the main principle of valuing people life and property protection from organisation focus and agenda to run business!!
- Cost pressure are going to be enormous, EHS implementation would be a big challenge. Companies would be caught in conflict between meeting internal norms ( if any) vs pricing. EHS personnel need to really add value to business with integrated approach to problem solving & offering effective but low-cost solutions.
- 2018 or perhaps 2019 would be the year when Indian entities would begin seeing value of ISO systems as a business enabler of Risk based approach, aligned strategy of business performance. Knee jerk short-term solutions shall slowly make way with Annual operating plans aligned to Business Risks which cover EHS, Quality, Product life cycle.
- Process Safety Management in hazardous manufacturing component of Chemical industries shall take prominence with more and more export oriented entities need to meet the requirements from customer standpoint.
- As more pressure mounts for willful violators in social media, some sense of compliance shall be expected. However, the corrupt, inept system of Governance, legislature, political system, would take years if not decades. So forget about clean up of Industries as well as offering safe work environment as well as offering, hygienic workplace shall be very minimum possibility even in coming decade. Pessimistic outlook, but that is the reality for Indian industries in 2018 and beyond.
- Road safety initiatives may take some positive side with new motor vehicle act in place. As usual enforcement is the problem. This shall be one brighter aspect to look to in 2018 and beyond.
Take care, God Bless