Digitalization, Occupational Safety

Occupational safety specialists in 2021: Opportunities, challenges and goals

The results of an online study conducted for the Safety Management Trend Report

4 minutes07/08/2021

Every year since 2016, select experts have examined the previous year’s trends and formulated an outlook on the future development of occupational health and safety as part of Quentic’s annual Safety Management Trend Report. This year’s report has been expanded to include the voices of practicing professionals for the first time. More than 600 professionals working in the field of occupational health and safety across Europe have shared their views on the current state of their industry. 

How has the coronavirus pandemic changed work? What role has the continuous advance of digitalization played in this? And what new tasks has it created for these professionals? 

The COVID-19 pandemic has inspired a renewed attention on occupational health and safety. The sector has enjoyed far greater appreciation as a result, but still faces major challenges. Solutions include digitalization and the use of modern technology – areas where significant progress has been made during the pandemic and, it is hoped, will make occupational health and safety more effective and crisis-resistant in the future. Respondents also indicated the importance of interpersonal aspects and addressing the issues of wellbeing and mental stress. There is a consensus that additional hygiene concepts and an increased focus on online training will remain with us after the crisis has passed, becoming part of our “New Normal”. 

Infographic: Opportunities, challenges and goals

How do occupational safety specialists currently view their profession? Our infographic details the sector’s current challenges, opportunities and goals:

Download the infographic as a PDF here!

Focus on safety culture

We define a safety culture as the attitudes, beliefs, perceptions and values of employees that employees share in relation to safety. (Cox & Cox: The structure of employee attitudes to safety: A European example) 

If you want to establish a safety culture, you need to get people on board. Employees at all levels of a corporate hierarchy need to recognize the value of occupational health and safety and implement it accordingly in their daily work. 

The expert committee behind the Safety Management Trend Reports and the survey respondents emphasized the importance of this issue. There is one top trend the expert panel agreed on as early as 2020: People are at the center of safety management and human qualities are what count most. The voices from practicing professionals in this year’s study have further confirmed this. Most respondents aim to engage more employees in occupational health and safety in 2021 and integrate them in related processes. 

A safety culture affects people in every area of a company and at every level – not least of all management. Ultimately, without active support from the management level, it will not be possible to effect a change in culture. Successful cultural change requires constant support from management. Most study participants confirmed that committed managers are the most important basis for improvements in occupational health and safety. 

In 2021, the opportunities to improve the safety culture in companies are particularly bountiful. This is primarily due to the coronavirus crisis, which has given the field of workplace health and safety a new, more important status in the world of work.