SHRM Identifies Health, Safety and Security Trends for 2014

By Roy Maurer Jan 31, 2014

The rise in obesity, legal drug use, new regulations and emerging technology risks are all key developments forecast to transform the management of occupational health and safety in 2014, according to a new report by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

Future Insights: The Top Trends for 2014 was compiled by SHRM’s volunteer Special Expertise panels, composed of senior HR practitioners, consultants, academics and policy experts.

In order of importance, here are the major trends to watch for in managing employee health, safety and security in 2014, according to the HR Disciplines Special Expertise Panel.

Obesity is on the rise. If current trends continue, more than 50 percent of the U.S. adult population will be obese by 2030. The growing number of obese employees or those with obesity risk factors is creating safety and accommodation challenges for employers.

New regulations will be announced. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration will continue to fast-track many new regulations, thus putting a significant burden on employers to rapidly implement new standards.

GINA litigation will increase. Since the passage of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) in 2008, litigation keeps rising as companies adapt to prevent violations during pre-employment physicals, in postoffer fitness-for-duty testing, and in safety and workers’ compensation policies.

Prescription drug use is rising. The increasing use of prescription opioids is creating a new category of employees—those who are working legally high. The workers’ compensation system is attempting to regulate the use of opioids to treat routine orthopedic injuries.

Employers will need to prepare for disasters. The increasing incidence of natural and man-made disasters is prompting businesses to develop or improve their organizational resilience management (e.g., disaster preparedness, emergency response plans, continuity of operations plans).

Marijuana policies will evolve. Now that recreational marijuana has been legalized in two states and medical marijuana in 18, more states will likely follow. Employers’ policies will evolve accordingly to ensure safety in the workplace.

Background-check policies will adapt. As states adopt ban-the-box legislation, employers will revise their due-diligence processes.

Telecommuting will increase. Flexible work situations will create new challenges for organizations to ensure the safety and security of their employees as well as privacy of data.

New technologies will bring new risks. The rising use of mobile devices will add more safety (e.g., distracted driving) and security (intellectual property, privacy protection) concerns for employers.

Data analytics and predictive modeling are on the rise. While this trend will lead to privacy concerns, it will also allow for better injury/accident prevention and enhanced preparation for adverse events.

SHRM’s HR Disciplines Special Expertise Panel responsible for identifying these trends was made up of the following members: Thomas Anderson, J.D., SPHR; George Boué, MBA, MS, SPHR; Lisa Calicchio, SPHR; Lisa Carlton, MBA, SPHR; Dellafay Chafin, MBA; Arthur Glover, SPHR; Robert Greene, Ph.D., CCP, CBP, GRP, SPHR, GPHR; Lori Johnson, BS, SPHR-CA; Victoria Krotzer, PHR; Kim Ruyle Ph.D., SPHR; Nancy Slotnick, MBA, SPHR, GPHR; Margaret Spence Karen Vujtech, MBA, SPHR, GPHR; Aparna Warade, MBA, SPHR; David Twitchell, PHR.

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

Follow him @SHRMRoy


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