Fast Times

May 5, 2000
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Planes and pagers, e-mail and Internet searches. We asked 22 safety and health professionals about life on the road and work at home. New assignments. Regrets and what keeps 'em going. Here's what they have to say. . .

One of the professionals contacted for this story returned a phone call on the day he was supposed to be flying to Mexico. "I was up at four this morning, rushed to the airport, got on the bus going to the terminal, then looked at my ticket and saw that the flight was for tomorrow. Damn," explains the consultant, who prefers to remain nameless.

We never were able to talk with Kyle Dotson, BHP Copper's vice president of safety, health, and environment. But on a Sunday morning he e-mailed responses drafted on a flight from Papua, New Guinea to Cairns, Australia -- "a work location I could not have imagined 20 years ago," he wrote.

Jeff Meddin phoned in from Zurn Industries' new corporate headquarters in Dallas. A division director of safety, Meddin is getting his bearings after relocating from Florida. His desk is anything but settled on the day he calls: He counts at least 20 open projects neatly piled before him, ranging from heat stress education and a respiratory protection program update to workers' comp claims management.

An oil industry safety director closed his door before answering questions in a phone interview. With his company up for sale, he runs down a list of options. "I could get a year's severance here, jump to another company, get bought out again, get another year's severance, and pay off all my debts," he laughs.

Group picture

These are four of the 22 environmental health and safety pros we contacted to give us, and you, a focus-group snapshot of modern times in the EHS world. It's a group fairly representative of today's profession, consisting of five consultants, five managers with single-plant responsibilities, four division managers, and eight corporate managers. One is currently unemployed, another is self-employed, and one holds down two jobs. Exactly half have held their current job for three years or less. (See the "By the numbers" box for their responses to our questionnaire.)

You can use this 'group picture' to benchmark:

  • How EHS pros deal with today's fast, uncertain, coldly competitive, and increasingly global business environment.

  • How they handle broader (and often more vague) job descriptions.

  • How they keep up, do more with less, and manage the time crunch.

To be sure, stress is nothing new for EHS professionals. A 1990 article in ISHN described expanding jobs, dwindling resources, "nutty travel schedules," and one pro who was "brain-fried but not bored."

And EHS pros won't get much sympathy in this, the age of "The Overworked American," as a popular 1993 book was titled. An Internet search using the word 'overworked' turns up articles on "Our Overworked Police," "Options for Overworked Librarians," and the homepage of "An overworked MBA student." Employees who say they suffer job burnout has jumped from 39 percent in 1995 to 53 percent this year, according to a survey by Aon Consulting. Meanwhile, 64 percent of industry executives surveyed by Thomas Publishing say they perform duties previously handled by more than one person.

Still, EHS work is probably changing more quickly, and more unpredictably, than ever before. Here's what several pros say:

"It's clear to me the demand is to do more and more with less and less. You can't just disappear for a week on business travel, or even for a vacation," says Dan O'Brien, a division safety manager for Engineered Carbons Corp., Borger, TX.

"It used to be the safety job was just to keep the company out of trouble. Now executives want to know how we can recoup costs and create synergy through safety," says Pittsburgh-based consultant David Sarkus. "There's no comparison between my job today and when I first got into safety in 1985," says Charlie Hart, safety supervisor at Exxon Chemical's Mont Belvieu, TX, plastics plant.

"Worlds apart," is how Mike Fagel, safety manager for Aurora Packing Co., Inc., North Aurora, IL, describes the difference. See if you can identify with what our focus group says is new and different about their work, what's frustrating, and what's motivating.

New assignments

'To do' lists of the pros we surveyed have been expanded to include these jobs in just the past year or two:

  • Environmental compliance: There's nothing new about safety and health pros taking on environmental jobs. But the reports keep piling up: SARA Form R and Tier II filings, hazardous waste generator reports, pollution discharge reports, pollution prevention plan summaries. The latest is EPA's risk management program, which requires companies using hazardous chemicals to inform local communities of potential worst-case chemical releases and emergency response plans by June 1999.

  • Transportation issues: More paperwork here, too, thanks to regulations such as the Department of Transportation's requirements for shipping hazardous materials. And more EHS pros have taken on fleet and field sales safety responsibilities.

  • International EHS: Among the 22 professionals we surveyed, time spent on international issues ranges from none to 60 percent. Most spend less than 10 percent of their time on global concerns. International EHS work still has little meaning for most pros, while for a few it's almost all-consuming. "You become addicted to it," says a consultant who recently left a job that was 80 percent international travel.

    Even safety managers in smaller facilities see the world shrinking. Barry Weissman's company in New Jersey sells chemicals all over the world, and he spends several hours every day searching the Internet and other sources trying to decipher how to register, label, and ship dangerous chemicals in any number of countries.

  • OSHA's Voluntary Protection Program: About 60 facility sites nationwide had gone through the rigors of qualifying for OSHA's VPP program a decade ago. Now nearly 400 sites participate. This past August, the annual meeting of VPP participants attracted 1,900 attendees, including three of the professionals we surveyed for this article. The program shows you how to take "the next step in performance excellence," explains Dan O'Brien, who's considering enrolling one of Engineered Carbons' three facilities.

    Dan Markiewicz, senior industrial hygienist for Aeroquip Vickers, Inc., Maumee, OH, says 50 percent of his energy now goes to VPP-related work. One of his facilities is currently being audited for the program, and four or five will submit applications next year. Over the next four years he expects 30 to 40 Aeroquip Vickers plants to participate. "We'll probably push it globally, too," he says.

  • Behavior-based safety: In 1994, 20 percent of ISHN readers identified behavior-based safety as a training priority. By 1998, the number has shot up to 56 percent, according to annual "White Paper" research. Back in '94, Bob Veazie wasn't even in a safety job. Then he got involved in Hewlett-Packard's behavioral safety project. Working out of an H-P site in Corvallis, OR., Veazie began what he calls a "huge investigation" of the field, and earlier this year he helped produce a 29-page manager's guide to behavioral safety observation and feedback.

  • Auditing and benchmarking: Facility auditing is one of the oldest staples of safety and health work, and it's expanding for several reasons. Merger mania has given some pros more sites to supervise. For others, lean staffs mean more facilities to cover. Among the 22 pros we surveyed, seven (not including the consultants) are responsible for at least 20 worksites.

    Quality-conscious executives are driving auditing, too. They want consistency across their operations. One safety and health manager color-codes the injury-illness performance of all his facilities in reports to executives. Sites 50 percent below the industry average are colored green, with yellow for sites between that mark and the industry average, and red for sites above the industry average. "Our CEO doesn't want to see a lot of color. He wants it all green," says this pro.

    Technology allows for more far-flung auditing. E-mail and company intranets know no bounds, and instantly relay auditing policies, pre-visit instructions, and follow-up questions and answers. In our sample group, the pros handling the most number of worksites receive the highest number of e-mails per day. "If it was not for e-mail, my job would not be done by less than two people," says BHP Copper's globe-trotting Dotson.

  • Odd jobs: Safety and health departments have long suffered as dumping grounds for jobs no one else wants. That reputation continues, thanks to reorganizations and layoffs. Among assignments taken on by our group of professionals in the past year or two: medical benefits, workers' compensation negotiations, food safety, MRO product purchasing, plant security, and managing a company fitness center. 'To do' lists of the pros we surveyed have been expanded to include these jobs in just the past year or two:

    • Environmental compliance: There's nothing new about safety and health pros taking on environmental jobs. But the reports keep piling up: SARA Form R and Tier II filings, hazardous waste generator reports, pollution discharge reports, pollution prevention plan summaries. The latest is EPA's risk management program, which requires companies using hazardous chemicals to inform local communities of potential worst-case chemical releases and emergency response plans by June 1999.

    • Transportation issues: More paperwork here, too, thanks to regulations such as the Department of Transportation's requirements for shipping hazardous materials. And more EHS pros have taken on fleet and field sales safety responsibilities.

    • International EHS: Among the 22 professionals we surveyed, time spent on international issues ranges from none to 60 percent. Most spend less than 10 percent of their time on global concerns. International EHS work still has little meaning for most pros, while for a few it's almost all-consuming. "You become addicted to it," says a consultant who recently left a job that was 80 percent international travel.

      Even safety managers in smaller facilities see the world shrinking. Barry Weissman's company in New Jersey sells chemicals all over the world, and he spends several hours every day searching the Internet and other sources trying to decipher how to register, label, and ship dangerous chemicals in any number of countries.

    • OSHA's Voluntary Protection Program: About 60 facility sites nationwide had gone through the rigors of qualifying for OSHA's VPP program a decade ago. Now nearly 400 sites participate. This past August, the annual meeting of VPP participants attracted 1,900 attendees, including three of the professionals we surveyed for this article. The program shows you how to take "the next step in performance excellence," explains Dan O'Brien, who's considering enrolling one of Engineered Carbons' three facilities.

      Dan Markiewicz, senior industrial hygienist for Aeroquip Vickers, Inc., Maumee, OH, says 50 percent of his energy now goes to VPP-related work. One of his facilities is currently being audited for the program, and four or five will submit applications next year. Over the next four years he expects 30 to 40 Aeroquip Vickers plants to participate. "We'll probably push it globally, too," he says.

    • Behavior-based safety: In 1994, 20 percent of ISHN readers identified behavior-based safety as a training priority. By 1998, the number has shot up to 56 percent, according to annual "White Paper" research. Back in '94, Bob Veazie wasn't even in a safety job. Then he got involved in Hewlett-Packard's behavioral safety project. Working out of an H-P site in Corvallis, OR., Veazie began what he calls a "huge investigation" of the field, and earlier this year he helped produce a 29-page manager's guide to behavioral safety observation and feedback.

    • Auditing and benchmarking: Facility auditing is one of the oldest staples of safety and health work, and it's expanding for several reasons. Merger mania has given some pros more sites to supervise. For others, lean staffs mean more facilities to cover. Among the 22 pros we surveyed, seven (not including the consultants) are responsible for at least 20 worksites.

      Quality-conscious executives are driving auditing, too. They want consistency across their operations. One safety and health manager color-codes the injury-illness performance of all his facilities in reports to executives. Sites 50 percent below the industry average are colored green, with yellow for sites between that mark and the industry average, and red for sites above the industry average. "Our CEO doesn't want to see a lot of color. He wants it all green," says this pro.

      Technology allows for more far-flung auditing. E-mail and company intranets know no bounds, and instantly relay auditing policies, pre-visit instructions, and follow-up questions and answers. In our sample group, the pros handling the most number of worksites receive the highest number of e-mails per day. "If it was not for e-mail, my job would not be done by less than two people," says BHP Copper's globe-trotting Dotson.

    • Odd jobs: Safety and health departments have long suffered as dumping grounds for jobs no one else wants. That reputation continues, thanks to reorganizations and layoffs. Among assignments taken on by our group of professionals in the past year or two: medical benefits, workers' compensation negotiations, food safety, MRO product purchasing, plant security, and managing a company fitness center. 'To do' lists of the pros we surveyed have been expanded to include these jobs in just the past year or two:

      • Environmental compliance: There's nothing new about safety and health pros taking on environmental jobs. But the reports keep piling up: SARA Form R and Tier II filings, hazardous waste generator reports, pollution discharge reports, pollution prevention plan summaries. The latest is EPA's risk management program, which requires companies using hazardous chemicals to inform local communities of potential worst-case chemical releases and emergency response plans by June 1999.

      • Transportation issues: More paperwork here, too, thanks to regulations such as the Department of Transportation's requirements for shipping hazardous materials. And more EHS pros have taken on fleet and field sales safety responsibilities.

      • International EHS: Among the 22 professionals we surveyed, time spent on international issues ranges from none to 60 percent. Most spend less than 10 percent of their time on global concerns. International EHS work still has little meaning for most pros, while for a few it's almost all-consuming. "You become addicted to it," says a consultant who recently left a job that was 80 percent international travel.

        Even safety managers in smaller facilities see the world shrinking. Barry Weissman's company in New Jersey sells chemicals all over the world, and he spends several hours every day searching the Internet and other sources trying to decipher how to register, label, and ship dangerous chemicals in any number of countries.

      • OSHA's Voluntary Protection Program: About 60 facility sites nationwide had gone through the rigors of qualifying for OSHA's VPP program a decade ago. Now nearly 400 sites participate. This past August, the annual meeting of VPP participants attracted 1,900 attendees, including three of the professionals we surveyed for this article. The program shows you how to take "the next step in performance excellence," explains Dan O'Brien, who's considering enrolling one of Engineered Carbons' three facilities.

        Dan Markiewicz, senior industrial hygienist for Aeroquip Vickers, Inc., Maumee, OH, says 50 percent of his energy now goes to VPP-related work. One of his facilities is currently being audited for the program, and four or five will submit applications next year. Over the next four years he expects 30 to 40 Aeroquip Vickers plants to participate. "We'll probably push it globally, too," he says.

      • Behavior-based safety: In 1994, 20 percent of ISHN readers identified behavior-based safety as a training priority. By 1998, the number has shot up to 56 percent, according to annual "White Paper" research. Back in '94, Bob Veazie wasn't even in a safety job. Then he got involved in Hewlett-Packard's behavioral safety project. Working out of an H-P site in Corvallis, OR., Veazie began what he calls a "huge investigation" of the field, and earlier this year he helped produce a 29-page manager's guide to behavioral safety observation and feedback.

      • Auditing and benchmarking: Facility auditing is one of the oldest staples of safety and health work, and it's expanding for several reasons. Merger mania has given some pros more sites to supervise. For others, lean staffs mean more facilities to cover. Among the 22 pros we surveyed, seven (not including the consultants) are responsible for at least 20 worksites.

        Quality-conscious executives are driving auditing, too. They want consistency across their operations. One safety and health manager color-codes the injury-illness performance of all his facilities in reports to executives. Sites 50 percent below the industry average are colored green, with yellow for sites between that mark and the industry average, and red for sites above the industry average. "Our CEO doesn't want to see a lot of color. He wants it all green," says this pro.

        Technology allows for more far-flung auditing. E-mail and company intranets know no bounds, and instantly relay auditing policies, pre-visit instructions, and follow-up questions and answers. In our sample group, the pros handling the most number of worksites receive the highest number of e-mails per day. "If it was not for e-mail, my job would not be done by less than two people," says BHP Copper's globe-trotting Dotson.

      • Odd jobs: Safety and health departments have long suffered as dumping grounds for jobs no one else wants. That reputation continues, thanks to reorganizations and layoffs. Among assignments taken on by our group of professionals in the past year or two: medical benefits, workers' compensation negotiations, food safety, MRO product purchasing, plant security, and managing a company fitness center.

        What gives?

        Try as he might, Ernie Huelke says he can't squeeze 30 hours into a 24-hour day. He's assistant safety manager for the O'Hare Airport Transit System in Chicago, and proud (if bleary-eyed) owner of a fledgling consulting business he calls "safetywoRx." Pulling double-duty puts him in the company of 7.8 million fellow Americans who worked more than one job in 1996, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. There's no estimate of how many EHS pros moonlight, but 16 percent of ISHN readers surveyed last year planned to start their own consulting business in 1998.

        Most pros have their hands full with one job. Only 27 percent of ISHN readers surveyed last year reported having enough time to accomplish their EHS goals. Time, it turns out, is a more precious commodity than budgets or staffs. In the same survey, 55 percent of readers said they have sufficient resources to get the job done.

        "The daily challenge is no longer to get all of the work done, but to decide what to do and what not to do," says Dotson. Four specific sacrifices are worth mentioning:

        1. Association involvement: Asked the question, "What have you cut back on due to time constraints?" 15 of the 22 pros we surveyed cite association activity. That includes running for national office, committee work, attending national and local meetings, and contributing to newsletters and journals. Anything "that does not have almost immediate value," sums up a corporate safety and health director.

        Paul Moss was approached about running for the American Industrial Hygiene Association's Board of Directors several years ago. His decision is typical of the dilemma facing many professionals. At the time, he says he was "trying so hard to keep my job going." A lunch conversation with a former AIHA president proved compelling. Learning that this highly-qualified professional had no job to return to in his company after completing his term helped convince Moss not to run. Once executives see that your job can be handled by someone else while you're gone, it's hard to justify your return, Moss explains. (It should be noted that Moss still serves on several AIHA committees.)

        Job security is just one factor weighing against association involvement. Some pros can't get their companies to defray membership and travel expenses. "Companies don't promote it," says one consultant. "What's in it for them?"

        Scheduling is a problem, too. Lunchtime meetings compete with work and dinner meetings go up against kids' soccer practices and all those other commitments on fully-loaded family calendars. Remember, the average ISHN reader is 46 years old -- prime time for parenting chores. Meeting content can also be a turn-off. "They've got to eliminate the fluff," says one long-time AIHA member, referring to the association's annual week-long meeting. "Airy" opening sessions provide no value, he says. "Five days should be condensed to three days."

        2. Networking and the personal touch: Less time for associations means fewer chances to network. "It's scary," says a professional who hasn't hit a meeting in a year due to her travel schedule. "I feel very disconnected. I consciously have to make it a goal to call one person a day. I never used to think about something like that."

        Technology also isolates professionals. "It is easy to forget that relationships make things happen and e-mail does not create relationships," says Dotson.

        3. Field work and employee contact: Pros aren't losing touch just with peers. Some say they're spending less time out in the field. They do less technical work and talk less with employees. "The job is not as technical today," sums up a corporate safety and health director.

        Some pros simply chalk this up to climbing the corporate ladder. "I used to be able to walk through plants and tell you which ventilation system was not working," says Henry Lick, manager of industrial hygiene for Ford Motor Co. Lick has an office in Ford's world headquarters in Dearborn, Mich. "I could tell you the concentrations (of exposures) I expected to find. When you ride a chair like I do now you lose that, naturally."

        But outsourcing also distances pros from technical work. "We use consultants all the time now for industrial hygiene monitoring," says O'Brien. "I can't do it all."

        4. Regulatory liaison work: Some pros are cutting back on their regulatory affairs work. Partisan bickering and the snail's pace of standards-setting in Washington are headaches they can do without. Plus, there's a "been there, done that" attitude about compliance issues many pros have long since put to bed.

        Troubling questions

        Taken together, new job demands and the time crunch raise some troubling questions: How can associations reflect the needs of industry members if most elected officials come from consulting firms or vendors? Who can vouch for the quality of sampling work or employee supervision in the field? "I feel like I'm cutting corners on quality," says one professional. "I just get the job done the way the job is defined, not the way I'd like to do it."

        Are EHS pros being stretched too thin when it comes to auditing? One professional who spent 60 percent of his time traveling in a previous job talked of 'hit-and-run' audits with no follow-up. "Just give them the report and say, 'Good luck'," he explains. "I just feel like I'm skimming the surface," says another professional with global auditing responsibilities.

        What kind of standards will regulators come up with if only lawyers and lobbyists are providing input? Is the network of relationships that holds the EHS profession together fraying as pros are stretched thinner and thinner?

        How EHS work has changed

        Involvement at a higher level of the organization, greater input into decisions, and more access to information makes pros feel better about what they do. E-mail, the Internet, computer databases and the like "absolutely make me a better professional," says Dan O'Brien.

        A growing number of pros are upbeat these days. In 1998, 49 percent of ISHN readers surveyed expect to feel a rewarding sense of job satisfaction, up from 33 percent in 1996.

        But with clout and respect come greater expectations -- and more pressure and job stress. St. Louis-based consultant Tom Lawrence, who spent 28 years as a Monsanto safety manager, says executives have "figured out that safety performance breeds performance excellence in other areas, such as human resources. So managers are willing now to invest in safety because they see it as a competitive advantage," he explains.

        Still, there are no guarantees in the age of re-orgs and rightsizing. "I've seen immense turnover, a thinning out of the executive EHS ranks," says one safety and health director. In his previous job, he attended quarterly luncheons with a group of mostly Fortune 500 EHS directors, and came to expect fresh faces at the table every time they got together. This pro jumped to a new job just before his corporate safety and health department was dissolved. "They made the decision that they just weren't going to worry about (corporate oversight). They're doing audits with mirrors now," he says. His new job is at the division level. "I'm tired of corporate politics and being a constant overhead target. This job has brought me back to my family," he says.

        "Job instability is insidious," sums up Kyle Dotson.

        Fueling the fire

        So what keeps professionals pushing on? To be sure, at least one of our panelists was considering a career change. He's taking computer classes at night after seeing the kind of money his son is making right out of college with a degree in computer sciences. In an ISHN survey last year, 16 percent of readers said they are seriously thinking of a career switch. "My job is definitely not as rewarding as it used to be," says a corporate EHS manager. "I don't have time to do things the way I'd like to."

        Still, most pros were quick to tell us why they work as hard as they do: "The job isn't done," says Aurora Packing's Mike Fagel. "It's never done. I don't want anyone to get hurt."

        "You've got to be going at 100 percent," says Dan O'Brien. "I'd rather be going 100 percent than 60 percent. That would bore me."

        "This field is something I'm interested in, something I can do," explains Lynn Gamicchia, a 28-year-old who left her last job after discovering her company's tepid support for safety.

        She also points to another motivating factor: pressure from above. "If I didn't get a reduction in injuries it was my fault," she says of her last job.

        "We'll always find some new hazard in this field that is ubiquitous and poorly dealt with," adds Dr. Howard Cohen, a professor of occupational safety and health management at the University of New Haven in Connecticut. If this group of 22 pros speaks for the larger profession, there are still plenty of challenges and pressures to fuel the passion needed for EHS work. Fast times in safety and health have professionals scrambling and sometimes looking over their shoulders, but few pros are talking about quitting the race.

        Survival Savvy

        From the group of safety and health pros we contacted, here are 20 tips -- some pragmatic, some philosophical -- for dealing with the demands of your job:

        Roll with it: "Be flexible. Be open. Change is certain." Make it a mantra for the millennium. It's the most common advice we hear from professionals.

        Reinvent yourself: Bored or burned out? "High-powered people find ways to reinvent their jobs," says Howard Cohen. Maybe they go from government to industry, or industry to consulting. "They find ways to re-energize."

        Invest in your own R&D: Is the field passing you by? Find an area of safety and health you're not expert in, find out who the experts are, and learn from them, says Hewlett-Packard's Bob Veazie. Set aside time for R&D just like a company does.

        Look inside: You've got to be introspective at times, says Aurora Packing's Mike Fagel. Just how are you managing your time? What can you do differently?

        Get a return on your investment: Consultant Dave Sarkus is thinking about cutting back on speeches to smaller groups because he's not getting many good leads. What are you getting back for your investments in time?

        Get up early: Very early. How does 3:30 or 4:30 a.m. sound? That's when some pros kick off their days to beat traffic and phone interruptions.

        Stay late: OK, maybe that's too early. Putting in a couple of hours after 5 p.m. can cure commuter blues and give you a chance to return calls, leave voice mail messages, or fire off e-mails.

        Do it at home: On average, the pros we surveyed work six hours per week at home. Mike Fagel finds he's more creative at home, which is where he puts together his Powerpoint presentations and speeches.

        Go with your gut: Have confidence that the experience you've gained over the years teaches you how to safely cut some corners and get jobs done quicker.

        Don't be a perfectionist: Trust your judgment. "I'm not as detail-oriented as I used to be," says an industrial hygienist. "I've collected so many samples I'm confident in making quicker assessments."

        Force change: Zack Mansdorf, director of safety and risk management consulting for Arthur D. Little, Inc., says the delays and unpredictable nature of international travel forced him to be more patient. "I had to make a conscious effort not to get upset waiting in lines, being stalled in traffic, or getting held up by bad weather."

        Check for stress: You know it when you feel it, says one consultant. Safety and health pros especially should know the symptoms that they often warn employees about.

        Hire a good secretary: A really good administrative person frees you to focus on priorities. A weak one has you worrying about everything: meeting times, flight plans, overnight deliveries. A superb assistant really lightens the load: Charlie Hart's administrative assistant runs his flame-retardant clothing program, generates monthly safety reports with charts and graphs, and handles workers' compensation paperwork. "Quite candidly, that's a lot of work," he confesses.

        Ask for help: Hart suggests asking management: "Do you want true safety performance or the illusion of safety performance?" Then be honest about what it will take to deliver what your managers want. And if they want safety in name only, "you can't win. It's time to leave."

        Rip off and duplicate: R&D for frenetic times. The Internet offers programs and policies that you can download and customize. Find out who's best in your class and benchmark. Most safety and health pros are open to sharing. Take advantage of it. Join a users group, or form one of your own. Go to meetings like the Voluntary Protection Program Participant's Association annual gathering. "There's a real spirit of sharing there," says Aeroquip Vicker's Dan Markiewicz.

        Don't feel guilty: It's your time, guard it well. One safety pro tells us he takes the "Dr. Pepper" approach to answering phone calls. "I answer voice mail messages at 10, 2, and 4," he says. "Internal calls I'll take because they're quickies. Outside, double ring calls I let go through. They break my concentration." This professional also says he only schedules sales calls from vendors between 6:30 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. on Monday mornings. "If they're not motivated to be there, I'm not motivated to buy," he explains.

        Filter information: Find a few trusted sources for regulatory updates and news and forget the rest, says Mark Hansen, manager of safety services for Union Texas Petrochemicals, Houston, TX. He looks for state news only where his plants are located. Here's how he quickly goes through "tons of trade magazines" each month: Scan the cover lines, contents page, and lead editorial. If nothing looks good, pass it on to someone else.

        Prune your portfolio: Corporations want to stick to core competencies, and so should you. Divest yourself of association memberships and other potential time commitments that don't add value. "Some associations we've just outgrown," says Charlie Hart. "And others we've grown into."

        Vent: It's healthy to get behind closed doors and let out frustrations with a group of your peers, says one safety and health manager. "It's satisfying and it validates your thinking that there's too much to do and not enough time. Validation is very important."

        Hand it off: "I used to feel real responsibility to see every project through to the end," says Dan Markiewicz. "I no longer take ownership of anything." He says you can teach "a lot of people" how to handle safety and health. "You've got to ask for people's help," seconds Mike Fagel.

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