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STATE OF THE NATION
How are safety and health programs faring in this sluggish economy and era of de-emphasized OSHA standards-setting? What's the state of mind of safety and health pros heading into 2004? How are they doing financially?
To find out, we surveyed nearly 2,000 ISHN subscribers by mail in August. We received responses from 494, for a 25 percent response rate. In this edition of ISHN's e-newsletter, we highlight findings from our 20th annual White Paper survey of safety and health issues and trends.
The field is graying. Two-thirds of safety and health pros surveyed fall between the ages of 40 and 60. Thirty percent say they are nearing retirement.
Field comment: "Within the next five to seven years perhaps 30 to more than 40 percent of the public health workforce in the U.S. will be eligible to retire. But younger graduates see less in the way of profitable career trajectories in the public sector." ? Dan Boatright, Ph.D., associate dean for public health practice, Oklahoma University.
In 2003, most safety and health budgets (57 percent) were flat, with no reported increases or cuts in spending. About one in five budgets managed to receive additional funds, and money was cut in one out of five budgets, too.
Prospects are a bit brighter for 2004: Almost one-quarter of budgets (24 percent) are expected to increase, with 18 percent braced for cutbacks.
Staffing will be vulnerable: 18 percent are anticipating layoffs, with only eight percent expanding.
Field comment: "Since the early 1990s businesses have been cutting costs in every area, including environmental health and safety. The quest for cost-cutting has reduced the number of full-time EHS equivalents and increased employment of lower-level safety staff (coordinators, supervisors, etc.), which reduces head count and salary costs." ? Ted Ingalls, CHMM, president, Performance Management Consultants.
TIGHT MONEY II
On a more personal level, safety and health pros on average expect a 2.2 percent salary increase in the coming year. Almost 40 percent of those polled (39 percent to be precise) won't get any increase. Only three percent anticipate a salary hike greater than 6.1 percent.
Bonuses. . . not. Four in five respondents won't get any bonus money this year. Of those that will, the average is about $900.
Speaking of averages, the average salary for all safety and health pros surveyed stands at $63,000 in 2003. That salary average is pulled from many age groups, sizes of business, years of experience, and types of industries. Twelve percent of respondents earn $90,000 or more. Twenty-four percent earn between $70,000 - $89,999. Thirty-nine percent earn between $50,000 - $69,999. One-quarter make less than $50,000 per year.
Field comment: "EHS people are not paid very well, compared to other technical specialties." ? former manufacturing industry industrial hygiene manager
Where will be the jobs in safety and health in the next five years? 1) Homeland security and emergency response (cited by 84 percent of respondents); 2) Consulting (60 percent); 3) Construction (50 percent); 4) Risk management (47 percent); and 5) International responsibilities (46 percent).
It's getting increasingly lonely at the top. Only 18 percent of those surveyed predict increased demand for corporate level EHS executives. Thirty percent expect a drop in demand for corporate high fliers.
Field comment: "I don't like what's going on out there. Where are the jobs? It's scary. I don't want to be an independent consultant who hits up my friends for work." ? risk control director
In 2004, 38 percent of professionals surveyed will pursue or maintain professional certification. Eight percent will be studying for a graduate degree.
Is it the time squeeze, a lack of interest, or the aging of the profession? In 1998, 62 percent of pros surveyed for the White Paper were pursuing or maintaining professional certification. That represents a decline of 24 percent in six years.
And 18 percent were studying for graduate degrees in 1998. In the past six year, there has been a ten-percent drop in students going after EHS graduate degrees.
Field comment: "It is a crisis. The EHS generation following us (baby boomers) is much less dedicated to the idea of professional growth." ? Dr. Dan Boatright
STOP THE BLEEDING
More than two-thirds of respondents (67 percent) report their companies will pay greater attention to healthcare costs in 2004. Half of all those surveyed say controlling healthcare costs will be the number one EHS-related priority next year.
Field comment: "I feel this interest and commitment is more about fixing an expense problem than investing in an asset ? worker well-being." ? Larry Hansen, CSP, ARM, president, L2H Consulting
SECURE THE WORKPLACE
Tightening the screws on workplace security will be the other top priority in 2004 ? three in five pros say their company will put more effort into preparing for sabotage and other emergencies.
Field comment: "For 99 percent of industrial facilities the risk of a terrorist attack is quite low. Most of these locations are probably over-prepared already. For the one percent that are truly attractive targets I believe most of them are under-prepared." ? Craig Schroll, CSP, founder of FIRECON.
With four straight years of double-digit health insurance rate increases, it's no surprise that almost half (47 percent) of the safety and health pros polled believe health promotion and wellness programs are among the most important implements in their EHS toolkit.
Field comment: "Unless we get religion and figure out the wellness equation, we are looking at a doubling of healthcare costs in the next five years. The majority of that money will be spent on repair work rather than preventive maintenance. We can't afford this scenario." ? corporate medical director
How do these findings compare with your views and experiences in the safety and health field? We will be publishing reactions that touch on hot-button issues in a future ISHN e-newsletter. But we need to hear from you first. Email your comments to email@example.com.
Dave Johnson is the ISHN E-News editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, (610) 666-0261; fax (610) 666-1906.
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WE NEED YOU!Are you a safety and health pro or a manufacturer or provider of occupational safety and health products or services who enjoys writing?
Shakespeare need not apply, but ISHN is looking for authors to publish short articles (1,000 words) in our monthly issues.
Topics include: safety success stories, close calls and personal experiences, training tips, use of software, engineering controls (machine guards, lockout-tagout), gas detection and air monitoring, confined space safety, personal protective equipment, and OSHA compliance issues.
If any of these topics interest you Â¿ or if you have other ideas Â¿ e-mail editor Dave Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org
We will also consider articles youÂ¿ve already written but not submitted to any safety magazine.