For safety managers and directors, 2013 will hold a mix of continuing challenges and new opportunities. As these professionals are tasked to do more with less, find and use reliable safety information sources, address safety on a holistic level and maintain a consistent approach to safety across borders, they must be diligent in keeping current with their profession's trends and changes.

The following five trends foreshadow how safety managers must be prepared to respond with the most safety-conscious solutions in the coming year:

Trend #1: Coping  with Greater  Workloads

Much is demanded of safety managers. They must raise multitasking to an art form:  simultaneously responding to upper management, inspiring employees and ensuring compliance with regulators while also juggling recordkeeping responsibilities, procuring safety products and handling other administrative duties, all across a wide array of safety categories and concerns.

A few of these areas safety managers must address include:

In the fall protection category, where workers risk being injured or dying from falls on the job, incident rates continue to increase worldwide. Many managers are stepping up their fall protection efforts. They're conducting internal audits of basics, improving training methods and generally raising awareness and prevention efforts among workers.

When it comes to hearing protection, the numbers tell a more complicated story.  In many western countries, worker compensation claims for job-related hearing losses actually are declining – owing to the economic downturn and the fewer overall number of workers on the job.

In categories such as respiratory and vision protection, accident rates generally are holding steady or slightly declining in mature industrial cultures, where attention from safety professionals and improvements in personal protective equipment (PPE) technologies have paid off.