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STATE OF THE NATION - PART 2
In this edition of ISHN's e-newsletter, we present more findings from our 20th annual White Paper survey of safety and health issues and trends. Nearly 2,000 ISHN subscribers were mailed questionnaires in August. We received responses from 494, for a 25 percent response rate.
Workers' compensation costs have supplanted OSHA compliance as the number one driver of employer commitment to EHS.
Fifty-six percent of those surveyed point to comp costs as a main driver (up from 41 percent in 1993), while OSHA compliance is cited by 47 percent. In 2004, 67 percent of pros report their companies will focus more on healthcare costs; 40 percent say increased effort will go into OSHA compliance.
Field comment: "The soft regulatory environment we are experiencing contributes to more outsourcing of the EHS function. Until we EHS pros can make a better and valid business case for EHS we will continue to see a diminution in our perceived worth by senior line management." - Rick Fulwiler, Sc.D., CIH, president, Technology Leadership Associates.
BEYOND BODY COUNTS
Some safety and health professionals hear Dr. Fulwiler loud and clear. The focus on costs probably is a reason more pros are looking for ways of measuring EHS performance beyond injury rates.
More than half (52 percent) will increase their emphasis on non-traditional performance metrics in 2004. More than one-third of all pros (36 percent) will work to make a stronger business case for EHS.
Field comment: "Without showing a return on investment (time, resources, funding) I doubt much will change over the long run." - Ted Ingalls
A dot-com comeback? The biggest change coming in 2004, in terms of tools selected for safety and health programs, is greater use of online training. Fifty-four percent of pros surveyed will increase their use of online safety training.
Field comment: "Online training can reach thousands of people, dropping the cost per trainee dramatically, but if your people lack access to a computer, are not computer literate, or are not competent in the language being used for delivery, you've wasted your time and money." - Lawrence H. "Chip" Dawson, Dawson Associates
BBS INTEREST FLATTENS
With most budgets flat, there are indications money is shifting from behavior-based safety efforts to health promotion. One-third of those surveyed will increase BBS efforts in 2004, compared to 46 percent investing more time and money in health and wellness programs. Thirty-seven percent say BBS is one of their most important tools. In 1998, 56 percent of those surveyed said BBS was a top priority.
Field comment: "Behavior-based safety programs do have their place, but further down the hierarchy of controls. I don't discount them, but I think too many people view them as their solution." - Henry Lick, Ph.D., CIH, CSP, president, Safety & Health Solutions, Ltd.
DOLLARS TRUMP VALUES
Only one-third of the pros polled say the leadership of their CEO is a primary force behind EHS commitment. (Could be that revolving door in many corner offices.)
Forty-one percent point to company values and principles as a prime driver.
Stronger influences are the need to control comp costs (56 percent) and EHS benefits to quality, productivity and morale, cited by 43 percent.
Field comment: "Everything changes when key players in management are no longer available to be champions of your efforts." - Henry Lick
FOLLOW THE MONEY
We asked pros to name the biggest changes in the EHS field in the past decade: 1) More focus on health and wellness; 2) More management interest in EHS; 3) More EHS work handled by line employees and/or consultants. All three can be traced to the broad need to control expenses in order to compete.
Field comment: "Those who are still asking if there is a true dollars and cents argument for investing in safety should explore job opportunities in other areas." - Marv Broman, director, corporate safety & health, Valmont Industries, Inc.
SECURE BUT UNSATISFIED
Despite round after round of downsizing, only 22 percent of pros say they are worried about job security. Only about one in ten are actively searching for a new job. One in five say they have hit a career plateau. Only 31 percent feel a rewarding sense of job satisfaction, down from 38 percent in 2001.
Field comment: "How can a profession have a high job satisfaction rating when they are not perceived as being highly valued by senior line management and there is no real significant drivers for their trade?" - Dr. Rick Fulwiler
How many of your EHS recommendations get accepted by the powers that be? Compare your batting average to White Paper survey respondents.
About one in five get less than 25 percent of their proposals approved. About one-quarter are hitting at least .500, with 50 - 74 percent of proposals accepted. Thirty-one percent are hitting at least .750, with 75 - 99 percent acceptance. And 13 percent hit a home run every time up -- 100 percent of their recommendations are approved. Those pros should be leading sales seminars.
Field comment: "The issue for the safety pro is framing the discussion in terms of managing risk. It can't become a debate about the value of a life or the cost of an injury and whether it is cost effective for safety measures to prevent it. Frame the discussion in terms of the probability that a negative event will occur and the likelihood that, if it does, the outcome will develop into the most severe result. The good news here is that for many, if not most, safety issues, the prevention measures or risk management measures are not highly costly." - Tom Lawrence, CSP, Risk & Reliability Consulting
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.