As we embark on a new year and look forward to our future contributions in the safety world, we might wonder what the EHS professional’s workday will look like decades from now.
If our current technological advances continue, it is not a distant stretch of the imagination to conceive a workplace that is far different from what we have today. The question is how different and what role will the EHS professional play?
How Different Will the Workplace Be?
Advances in nanotechnology will rule. It is likely that picotechnology will be in its advanced developmental stages. We will no longer be administered medications orally; a swipe across the back of your ear with a pen-like device will deliver a painless and precise dose directly into our blood stream.
Raw material and processing waste streams will be highly hazardous, posing a danger through ingestion, respiratory and dermal contact and food chain contamination at the cellular level.
Products will have multi-layer properties, each contributing to an amazing array of capabilities. Metal as we know it will give way to stronger, lighter and less temperature-sensitive materials. Physical doors will be replaced with electro-magnetic barriers that allow access via the electronics gently implanted in your arm. These same epidermal-implanted pico circuits will serve as computers, cell phones, credit cards, banking portals, shopping malls, medical surveillance and treatment devices, professional credential recording logs and hazard warning devices.
Yes, you read that correctly: professional credential recording logs where your work experience will be maintained in a similar way a modern vehicle logs in the number of hours on its engine. An employer will be able to scan you virtually and determine if you are professionally qualified to perform the job. These implants will even have the capability to accurately predict how long you will live based on your body’s chemistry, a calculation that will adjust as your lifestyle choices dictate.
The work force will mostly shift from manual labor to monitoring and service. Time will compress with more output in less time and for less cost. Efficiency will increase. Advanced robotics will represent a much higher percentage of the work producing resources. There will be construction robots, maintenance robots, operations robots, quality control robots, EHS robots, robots for robots and apps for the apps in the robots.
We will live in a truly global economy. Regardless of where you work in the world, there will generally be common consensus standards governing the protection of people, property and the environment.
It will be a high-hazard work environment as the result of new technologies and the challenges associated with a global economy.
What Role Will the EHS Professional Play?
The EHS professional’s workday will be different. Rather than chasing the fox, the EHS pro will be waiting for it at the foxhole.
This means that the EHS professional will be:
- Ahead of the technology curve, working on the research and development side to reduce risk to near zero at the source;
- Innovation-focused and highly process driven;
- Highly knowledgeable in the fields of leadership, global medicine, economics, ergonomics, forensics, industrial engineering and performance excellence, law, sociology, biology, materials science, robotics, computer science, finance, communications, physics, chemistry, statistics, structural and civil engineering, systems safety, business development, cultural ethics and, of course, psychology;
- Synchronized with world events and how they may impact EHS implementation performance; and
- Super flexible and highly receptive and adaptive to change.
So now that you have a glimpse of the possible future journey. “What is the future of the EHS professional’s role?” you ask. Perhaps the answer to that question can be found in what we professionals do for EHS today, sometime later in the fated moment in time.