01 Feb 2023

2023 predictions for the H&S sector?

2023, year of the rabbit

Can you believe the first month of the year is over already! We’ve celebrated Chinese New Year, but the animal year officially commences on 4th February. We thought we would take a look at what the year of the rabbit might look like and what are the 2023 predictions for the H&S sector?

The year of the rabbit should be a lot calmer than last year, with the opportunity to ‘rest, heal and recharge’ which is extremely important for mental health. The rabbit signifies approaching challenges creatively, with ‘thoughtful action’ but they are strategic and ambitious (source: 2023 Is the Year of the Rabbit: Here’s What It Means)

We cannot think of a better animal to tackle our health & safety predictions!

2023 is already beginning to feel like a year where the focus needs to be on energy and financial savings with the cost-of-living crisis upon us all.  So, will this mean that health and safety cost considerations are put to the bottom of the list? Many believe cutting costs in health & safety will easily save them money, we strongly disagree, cutting costs often increases incidents and injuries and health and safety is one aspect that should remain constant. Below are my five 2023 predictions for the H&S sector.

Prediction 1: Increase in technology

We have seen an increase in organisations adopting health & safety software, for managing incident reporting, risk assessments and training. This is due to the positive impact on their businesses from time and money saved, to ease of reporting, ensuring compliance and being more environmentally friendly. This will increase greatly over 2023, especially for those that are serious about a collaborative team-based approach to safety, being able to predict potential risks from data collected and looking to become more sustainable.

We are also seeing an increase in robotic machines and automation particularly in manufacturing, to take out the need for human intervention and increase production. However, these machines should be properly maintained and risk assessed, allocate the same resources as you would to people, to ensure that safe systems of work are in place.

Prediction 2: Shortage of labour

With many employees looking at a better work life balance, reducing hours etc and not enough skilled employees available to meet the skills gap, this puts additional pressure on existing employees to still meet the needs of the business with the reduced staff levels. This can strongly effect health and safety performance levels, so a strong emphasis needs to be on positive safety at all times.

Prediction 3: Psychological safety takes precedent

We predict that mental health and wellbeing will become even more of a priority in the workplace. Working from home, increased financial pressures, poor nutrition, sleep etc are additional stresses that can impact the workforce and this then becomes an overlap between HR and health & safety departments to work together to ensure the safety of all.

Prediction 4: Supply chain pressures increase

2023 is not the year to become complacent, it is a year for learning from past experience. Preventing risk throughout planning and risk assessments, rather than dealing with the ‘incident’ afterwards. So many companies will be reviewing their strategies and procedures and potentially their suppliers, as their safety comes under scrutiny too. We need to learn from past tragedies and the introduction of recent and updated legislation with the Building Safety Act and Fire Safety Act 2021.  They may push suppliers and contractor management further, to ensure that they have stringent standards or they will be replaced.

Prediction 5: People should be priority

We have seen with the current industrial strike actions, that workforce expectations are changing. The importance needs to be placed on listening and engaging with your key stakeholders to strengthen commitment. Grow and develop your workforce through CPD and continue to train on all health and safety aspects (both in person health and safety training and online, so both social interaction and practical experience needs are met alongside theory.) Communication is key, Toolbox Talks are a great channel for this. The outlook should be on prevention, to protect yourself and others at all times, and instilling a safety culture throughout, for stronger performance and sustainability see ‘Catch the Wave with IOSH’

It feels as though we are trying to run faster than before, to make up for the time that has been lost due to the pandemic, but remember the rabbit didn’t win the race!  We should pause; the focus should be on time management, quality of output of work produced and fundamentally the importance of protecting people.

Emma Riordan, Senior SHE Consultant at Sentinel Safety Solutions
Predictions from our Senior SHE Consultant, Emma Riordan, BSc (Hons) CFIOSH.

If you need any hands-on practical help that can improve your safety levels in the workplace, please feel free to email info@sentinelsafety.co.uk or call us on 01527 833834, we’re happy to help.

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