Well-informed horizon scans and analyses are vital for organisations and policymakers
26th July 2019
Responsible employers want to look after their workers and, in an increasingly competitive market, protect their revenues and reputations. In these uncertain and rapidly changing times, organisations seek good intelligence to minimise the risk of business interruption and ensure continuity and sustainability.
The Business Continuity Institute's (BCI) Horizon Scan Report 2019, which draws on the input of more than 500 global professionals, highlights IT and telecoms outages, OSH incidents, and lack of talent or key skills as three of the most significant disruptions in 2018. OSH incidents were the most prevalent and costly for some, although across the cohort the impact was perceived as relatively low.
That was last year's respondent experience. Compared with previous BCI horizon scan reports, estimates for this year show increases in disruption due to bad weather, political change (in the top ten for the first time since 2015) and cyber attacks or data breaches (now in first place). This corresponds with the recent BDO Global Risk Landscape 2019 report, in which respondents highlighted data privacy breaches, trade wars and Brexit as the top three risks for 2020, with extreme weather also in the top ten.
Well-informed horizon scans and analyses are important in helping organisations and policymakers to be alert, proactive and responsive. Used to explore what the future might look like and understand uncertainties better, they investigate evidence and insights on emerging trends, developments and possible futures, so people can prepare. As the recent BCI report highlights, organisations use scans to monitor and identify potential threats and to consider longer-term change and underlying trends.
OSH professionals have a key role in corporate horizon scanning
Recognising the cumulative impact of OSH incidents matters because fully appreciating it can strengthen the case for investment in prevention. Enabling organisations to estimate the disruption and avoidable losses from their OSH failures, and compare them with other corporate risks can help to ensure that prevention is properly prioritised and resourced.
ISO international management system standards and their high-level structure provide a useful framework, requiring considerations of corporate context, among other elements. Organisations adopting standards such as ISO 45001, ISO 22301, ISO 14001 and ISO 9001 should already be engaging in future analysis so that they can consider their context and assess their internal and external factors and their stakeholders' expectations.
OSH professionals have a key role in corporate horizon scanning by sharing information and intelligence and providing analysis. We can enable organisations to be alive to OSH risks and opportunities and advise on new developments, emergency planning and managing OSH in global supply chains. Our expertise and collaborative approach can help employers to prevent incidents -- avoiding harm, disruption, revenue loss, supply chain failure and associated reputational damage -- and support safe, healthy and sustainable futures.