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5 EHS Challenges for Today's Professionals: Strategies for Uncertain Times

April 10, 2024

"Safety is not the absence of accidents, but the presence of defences."

- Todd Conklin, Ph.D, Safety Expert

Despite hitting historical safety milestones in recent years, American workplace incidents and fatalities are once again on the rise.

This trend should be a wake-up call for all of us safety professionals, who need to take a hard look at our safety habits, and stop being comfortable with the status quo. 

If we really want change, we need to embrace new ideas, and champion voices in the safety industry who are truly making a difference.

In other words, we need influencers.

No, not the kind that will teach you the latest TikTok dance, but the kind that can help shift the tides and fix our broken safety culture. 

That’s why we invited Meghan Shambach — a renowned expert in taking a proactive approach to EHS challenges — for a webinar on the top challenges faced by safety professionals today. 

Top 5 Challenges Faced by EHS Professionals Today 


Our webinar with Meghan hit on several key points. Meghan helped us dissect the intricacies of today's industrial safety environment, highlighting the top challenges that erode safety culture and exploring new avenues for sustainable improvement.

Here are the 5 challenges highlighted during the webinar: 


1. Evolving Compliance Landscape  

With OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) regulations and workplace standards continually evolving, trying to maintain compliance is like trying to hit a moving target. This task becomes even more challenging when you consider the variety of industries, each with its own set of rules and expectations.  

Half (48%) of organizations surveyed in the webinar rely on regular training and updates for their EHS team to ensure compliance with the latest standards, showing the importance of ongoing education. 

In our discussion with Meghan, she shared her firsthand experience with these complexities, highlighting the struggle of applying industry standards to specific practices of construction and manufacturing sectors. Through her anecdotes, it became clear that a one-size-fits-all approach to compliance just won't cut it. 

For example, Meghan pointed out the unique challenge of ensuring bridge construction projects met both general industry and construction-specific OSHA standards—a task that required a deep understanding of regulatory nuances and a constant readiness to adapt strategies as standards evolved. Her stories underscored the necessity for EHS professionals to stay vigilant, informed, and flexible in their compliance efforts. 

2. Risk Identification and Mitigation 

Risk identification and mitigation remains a prominent challenge for EHS professionals. In fact, more than 50% of organizations struggle to collect the data they need for effective, proactive ESG and EHS programs.

Meghan addressed this issue head-on by highlighting the difficulty in staying ahead of potential hazards in an ever-changing work environment. 


Risks are not static; they evolve as new technologies are adopted, processes are changed, and workforce turnover occurs. She pointed out that what makes risk management particularly challenging is the double need to look for new risks promptly while reviewing existing controls to ensure they are still effective. 

During our discussion, Meghan stressed the importance of having a dynamic, responsive EHS program that can adapt to new information and changing conditions. This approach requires a constant vigilance and a commitment to continuous improvement, underscoring the need for EHS professionals to cultivate a proactive safety culture that encourages reporting and addresses potential risks before they lead to incidents. 

3. Emergency Preparedness  

Emergency preparedness is crucial in ensuring the safety and security of all personnel within a facility. Surprisingly, 71% of organizations surveyed in our recent webinar do not currently use an emergency management tool, a statistic that highlights the need for more thoughtful emergency planning and response across industries. 

71percent-no-emergency-stat copy 2

Meghan recounted an incident where during a routine facility tour, they decided to test an emergency alarm system designed to alert the security team in case of an incident. 

When they activated the alarm system, nothing happened — uh oh... 

No security personnel arrived, and it became apparent that the system did not properly notify the designated responders. This situation not only exposed a critical vulnerability in the facility's emergency response plan but also showed the potential dangers of assuming that systems will work as intended without regular and thorough testing. 

This anecdote shows us just how important it is to ensure that alarm systems are integrated and functioning correctly. Some companies may consider investing in an integrated visitor and emergency management system to ensure prompt crisis response, access to real-time data of who is on site, and the ability to communicate with all individuals during an emergency. By adopting a system like this, organizations can close the gaps in their emergency preparedness strategies and ensure a coordinated response to any crisis. 

Interested in hearing the full discussion? Watch the webinar on-demand:

Watch Now

4. Digital Transformation in Record Keeping  

Today, 42% of EHS Professionals say data reporting is their most significant challenge. The shift from manual to digital record-keeping methods is not just a matter of convenience; it is a change that can significantly impact our ability to comply with EHS regulations and respond to emergencies effectively. 

During the interview, Meghan described an emergency preparedness box that contained important documents, such as Safety Data Sheets (SDS) and emergency contact information.

The idea was for these documents to be readily accessible in case of an emergency. However, upon inspection, she found that the documents had been damaged by moisture, rendering them unreadable. This situation highlighted a glaring issue with paper-based record-keeping: its prone to physical damage, which can lead to critical information being unavailable when most needed. 


This story illustrates the importance of making a switch to digital, which would not only protect against physical damage but also offer several advantages that enhance EHS compliance and emergency preparedness.  

For example, digital records can be accessed from multiple locations so that EHS information is available even if access to the physical workplace is restricted. Plus, digital systems can be updated in real-time, ensuring that the most current information is always available. This shift towards digital record-keeping represents a significant step forward for EHS management, offering improved resilience, accessibility, and reliability in maintaining critical safety and compliance information. 

5. Harnessing Technology for EHS Innovation 

The role of technology in EHS management is multifaceted, addressing not just efficiency and compliance but also fostering a proactive, data-driven approach to safety.  

Meghan provided some valuable insights into the role of technology in modernizing EHS management. She highlighted not just the shift from manual to digital record-keeping, as previously discussed, but also explored broader applications of technology across various aspects of EHS practices. 

The discussion stressed the limitations of traditional, manual methods in managing visitor logs, tracking employee training, and conducting risk assessments. 

For instance, Meghan pointed out how pen and paper methods for visitor management are not only cumbersome but fail to provide real-time insights into who is present on-site, making evacuations and rollcalls a potential mess. What’s more, Meghan's spoke about the challenges of ensuring that all employees receive timely and relevant safety training, a task made even more difficult without technology. 

By using digital tools, organizations can better meet the current demands of EHS management and adapt to future challenges, ensuring the well-being of their workforce. 

Hungry For More Insights? Watch The EHS Toolbox For Tomorrow On-Demand 


Dive deeper into these discussions and discover strategies to overcome the top EHS challenges by watching The EHS Toolbox For Tomorrow webinar on-demand.

Jeff Gladwish

Jeff Gladwish is the Chief Revenue Officer at iLobby where he spearheads the go-to-market strategy, driving the growth and adoption of our Facility and Visitor Management solutions. In 2023, Jeff was named one of Influitive’s Fearless 50 Customer-Led Marketing Leaders, an award that recognizes executives pushing the boundaries of customer marketing, advocacy, community, and loyalty.

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