Safety Matters: 2024 Safety Study Results

© Christian – stock.adobe.com

By: Barbara T. NessingerEditor-in-Chief

Earlier this year RDG Media, in conjunction with Industrial Hygiene in the Workplace, conducted a safety study to understand current perceptions of “smart PPE,” a myriad of EHS solutions—as well as expected usage of various products and services in the safety industry—and more.

The Safety Study results shed light on what professionals in the industry find most important when purchasing and using PPE and other tools that help safeguard their companies’ workers. In addition, the study revealed what topics were of most interest for editorial coverage.

Study Objectives & Responses

The key objectives of the study include respondents’ upcoming use of smart PPE technology, as well as solutions for heat-stress mitigation; hearing protection/noise reduction; and the challenges faced by remote workers.

In addition, questions zoomed in on respondents’ future purchase and spending plans regarding general products and services, including those that are technology-focused. We also learned what sources they prefer to use to keep abreast of EHS standards.

Smart PPE Technology & Mobile Apps

Responses revealed that nearly 25% are “extremely/very likely” to use mobile apps, such as incident alerts, mobile inspections, etc., in the next year. Some 15% plan to use smart PPE solutions in the same time period.

Heat-Stress Mitigation Plans

The survey asked respondents to indicate “which types of heat stress mitigation your company plans to utilize in the next year,” with the option to select all that apply. Two-thirds of respondents indicate they plan to implement worker training as a mitigation effort in the next year; this is followed by more than half (53%) implementing a heat-related illness plan.

Nearly one-third (28%) also indicated that they plan to utilize cooling technology-enabled clothing. This is followed by wearable tech (15%) and smart PPE (13%).

Hearing Protection/Noise Reduction Plans

A whopping 73%—nearly three-quarters—of respondents indicate usage of hearing protection PPE, followed by half of respondents implementing hearing conservation programs. Almost as many (43%) plan to use audiometric testing; one-third see noise-reduction plans in their company’s arsenal of tools to help fight against workers’ hearing loss.

In addition to the above solutions, again almost one-third (27%) plan to utilize auditory monitoring technology to assist with their hearing protection plans. Structural solutions, such as nanotech-enabled, sound-proofing foam or noise-cancelling windows, were chosen by 13%; and 12% would be making use of situational awareness as a way to help with noise reduction.

Nearly three-quarters of study respondents indicate usage of hearing protection PPE, followed by half implementing hearing conservation programs. © New Africa – stock.adobe.com

Lone & Remote Worker Safety Solutions

When asked to indicate which lone or remote worker solutions their company plans to implement in the next year, almost half (48%) of those surveyed chose increased worker training; one-third said they would be implementing accountability procedures into their lone worker safety plans going forward. Interestingly, only 13% indicated they planned to use smart PPE to assist their efforts.

© Christian – stock.adobe.com

Important Safety Innovations/Purchasing Influence

An open-ended question in the survey asked, “What has been the most important innovation to your team in the last two years?” Responses ran the gamut, from AI to wearable tech to atmospheric monitoring to engineering controls. (For a complete list of responses, see sidebar “Innovation Station.”)

As far as the power or ability to control purchasing, of those surveyed, 37% say they are responsible for approving or authorizing purchases at their facility/workplace. Some 30% recommend purchases. Others have the ability to select or specify purchases; or are “involved in other ways,” at 20 and 13%, respectively.

Topics of Interest

Next, respondents were asked about the topics they’d most like to see covered in professional trade journals, magazines, websites and newsletters. While they were allowed to select all topics that applied, the clear winner was “new products entering the market,” at 63%. Close behind, 55% of those surveyed indicated articles about compliance with OSHA/ANSI/ISEA standards.

Almost half (49%) wanted to see information about available safety technology; 37% indicated a desire for more coverage of the different types of safety training. Rounding out the list was wanting to see more technical articles (26%) and connected worker solutions, at 24%.

Tools of the Trade: Tech, Tools and Methods

Usage plans for each of the following health and safety-
related technology tools/methods drew a myriad of answers. Leading the pack, nine out of 10 (90%) respondents currently use eye and face protection, followed by eight out of 10 who are currently utilizing hearing and noise protection (81%), and training (80%). Respiratory protection/fit-testing (77%); showers and eyewashes (73%); and HazCom (68%) also ranked high on the list.

Keeping Up

Finally, we asked about the types of sources respondents most used to keep up with the ever-changing landscape of EHS standards. A clear majority (89%) say they read monthly or topical e-newsletters for this information.

Conclusion

The results of the Safety Study illuminate what industry professionals find most important when purchasing and using EHS products; what topics they consider top of mind today; how they plan to protect workers everything from noise to respiratory protection to heat stress; and a variety of other tools that help safeguard their company’s workers. We also learned what topics were of most interest for editorial coverage—and what respondents considered the most ground-breaking innovations in the industry over the course of the past two years. IHW

Most Common EHS Solutions Readers
Currently Use or Plan to Use

Eye & Face Protection 92%

Hearing & Noise Protection 85%

Training 89%

Respiratory Protection/Fit Testing 82%

Showers & Eyewashes 78%

HazCom and Identification 97%

Ventilation Equipment 67%

Welding Safety 72%

Ergonomically Correct Solutions 74%

Portable Gas Detectors 56%

Hydration & Heat Stress Solutions 70%

Wireless Equipment 61%

Confined Space Equipment 53%

Fixed Gas Monitoring 53%

Chemical Resistant Apparel 61%

Connected Worker Safety Solutions 44%

Silica Prevention 30%

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