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Climate Risk: A Clear And Present Challenge For EHS Functions

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Climate Risk: A Clear And Present Challenge For EHS Functions

2022 saw an increased number of climate-change-fuelled weather events that influenced dangerous working conditions for employees, assets and firms as a whole around the world. From the Pacific Northwest heatwaves to the Christmas bomb cyclone events, these environmental disasters provide logistical nightmares and present a real risk to the health and safety of workers. As these continue to occur, firms have to adopt new processes and solutions to deal with the increasing dangers. But there will also need to be institutional changes , driven by changes in regulations from governments and other key stakeholders, such as insurance providers. So, how can firms leverage digital solutions to help prepare themselves for these changes?

  • Conduct a targeted hazard analysis across a company’s entire value chain, identifying specific risks, from increases in heat levels to the lack of backup generators per site, to the collapse of logistics and transportation infrastructure after disasters. In some firms, this knowledge is locked away in site-specific protocols or with individuals, leaving it inaccessible. Ensuring this information is not only widespread, but also recorded digitally can prevent gaps if, for example, individuals leave the organization. Moving forward, EHS managers and operations teams need to create channels of communication and preparedness plans that can be understood and executed by any member of staff, giving the average employee the capability to enact these risk plans.
  • Consider the current and expected ESG drivers as they filter down and out into the wider regulatory web. As ESG data and scores become increasingly tied to investor sentiment and regulatory scrutiny, insurance companies will ramp up the pressure, requiring the above hazard assessment, but also the likes of preparedness plans, site vulnerability data, and long-term development plans. Here, vendors like Everbridge have combined their data sets on climate vulnerability with insurance vendors’ for comprehensive risk packages. This package integrates Everbridge’s critical event management and warning systems with Brown & Brown’s insurance packages, which allows customers to leverage and thus benefit from forward-looking risk management around threats to employees and assets. Creativity and collaboration like this will be required by firms as they look at their assets’ vulnerability and the pending ESG pressure.
  • Incorporate not only software, but relevant hardware as well. In today’s vernacular, digital solutions can often be interpreted as solely software that is used to help log, check and send data between different groups. It is vital, then, to remember that hardware solutions are also involved. PPE that is designed to measure a worker’s vitals, autonomous vehicles that are designed to operate in dangerous conditions and more are all prime examples of hardware that can be leveraged to protect not only employees but also site and asset operational status in the light of increased climate risk.

While still a relatively new type of viewpoint, the lens of climate risk – and its inevitable impact on operations – must become a filter through which all EHS functions view the world they operate in. The diverse nature of how these changes will impact operations will entail varying levels of risk, and also depends on a time scale that has frequent variables. Overall, firms that partner with and leverage multiple types of digital solutions and vendors will find themselves better insulated against the coming changes, both regulatory and physical.

To learn more about climate risk for worker safety and the latest Verdantix insights please see our latest research.

Nathan Goldstein

Senior Analyst, EHS

Nathan is a Senior Analyst in the Verdantix EHS practice out of the Boston office. His current research agenda focusses on the intersection of Sustainability and ESG trends with the EHS operational sphere. Prior to joining Verdantix, Nathan worked at Bluefield Research where he gained experience in consulting and market research within the global water industry. Nathan holds a MSc in Water: Science and Governance from King’s College London.