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A dying profession?

October 21, 2009
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One of the most striking findings that I saw in your “State of the EHS Nation” reader survey 2010 (to be published in ISHN’s January 2010 issue) presentation (and by ABIH and other safety organizations) is the age distribution of safety respondents.

Somewhere around 90% of responders and (by generalized extension) current practitioners are over 40 (!!) years old (present company included).

I have to wonder what other profession sees similar age distributions like maybe Mood Ring manufacturing, but I still see this as a cause for concern. Unless national organizations begin stepping up high school and college age recruitment efforts, the entire landscape of the safety professional will change and soon. In 20 years, either safety pros will be able to name their salary, or industry will have left them behind… and evolved itself to do without a professional safety person on staff because they can’t find any because they’ve all retired. I’m in support of the “name their salary” one.

I thing it would be a great idea for ISHN to either do an article on the aging of the profession (benefits and drawbacks and recommendations), or somehow editorialize an open letter to national safety organizations calling for the new blood to help lead us into the 2020s and beyond.
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Future of the Profession in doubt

Dan Brockman
October 23, 2009
Jeff, and others have been repeatedly remarking on the fast rising average age of EHS professionals. I have seen this in my recruitment practice. Companies look for the 3-5 year person, and won't pay the difference for a more experienced individual. But, there are very few 3-5 year people. The schools are having trouble attracting committed safety students. What shall we do about this situation?

Future of the Prof

Dave Smith CSP
October 28, 2009
I agree that recruiting and mentoring and really important. In the Bay Area, San Jose State's program went by the wayside in part because of lack of student interest. The ASSE Consultants group is making mentoring of students a priority and I think we all need to work on this.

Future of H&S Profession

Chuck Brehm
November 19, 2009
If the demand is there, schools will respond with programs to fill it with qualified candidates. As manufacturing has declined in the US, so have the demand and opportunities for young H&S professionals. Increasing numbers of trained young professionals will not impact the demand. I believe the market forces will affect supply - not the other way around. Our shrinking H&S profession is a reflection of the changing nature of work in America.

Future of OH&S

Marci Trotter
November 25, 2009
I am a 37 yr old professional of OH&S. I came into this field only because of an opening in my warehouse. My knowledge has only come by my own hard work and interest. If I had not taken this position I would not have had a clue as to the complexities involved. My company paid for my OSHA 301 training, other than that I am entirely self taught. I would love to get a formal degree in OH&S and further my career. The problem is financial and distance. There are no colleges within driving distance that offer a major in Safety. As a parent and homeowner working full time to pay my bills the financial aspescts make it difficult for the 5 yr OH&S professional to pay for the classes required. My company, as with many currently has put a hold on spending. I have trained my children (4 teenagers) in OSHA 10 hr which has peaked their interest into pursuing this area also. The 18 yr old is interested in occupational pychology. The 16 yr old is into environmental engineering. The others have not found their nitch yet. Although they have an interest they will not be able to follow through with this line because of financial constraints. Most teens have no idea of what is involved with this profession. I'm doing my part to try to educate their friends as well that come with issues at work.

Future of OH&S

Gilberto Gutierrez
November 30, 2009
I have 28 years in the EHS field, since I started to study and work in this profession I have seen that there is a lack of professionals in the industry. Many companies hire people with very different focuses because there are not professionals available. I do agree with the comment of Marci Trotter that there is a lack of financial and distance. There are no many colleges within driving distance that offer a major in Safety.I have some friends interested about safety and they are begining to take OSHA classes witn the University of Texas.

Future of OH&S

Brian Vogler
December 17, 2009
I too am one of the few who have taken on the responsibilities of the EHS leader of our company. With only rudimentary training and no budget for training, it is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain the knowledge required to train and educate the employees here. Everything I learn is through webinars, networking, reading the CFR's and searching the internet. I can find training grants to train the workers but often there are no government grant programs for the continued education of the safety professional. Unfortunately I can't afford the tuition for college and in speaking with the local colleges I find that there are less than a dozen students seeking any kind of EHS degree.

Future of OH&S

Marci Trotter
December 18, 2009
I have to agree with Brian Vogler. Free webinars have been a savior. I have attended over 150 hours of webinars in the past 1 1/2 years in a very diverse array of subjects to keep myself current and improve knowledge in anything from H1N1 to Safety Culture to Arc Flash. We have a small maintenance department (6 associates)in our facility of 155 associates that handles an incredible variety of tasks. Finding out what training was required and keeping every department up to date with training would have been impossible or extremely expensive without the variety of free webinars available and the availablility of the e-CFR's. Also, I did find a great resource in safetycommunity.com but to no avail as our IT department has it blacklisted as a social network site. It can be very frustrating trying to search out the knowledge that is required to perform this position correctly when you are hindered in so many ways.

Dying FOR the Profession

Dan Brockman
February 12, 2010
The Middletown power plant explosion claimed the life of 48 year old degreed safety engineer Chris Walters. He had both a Bathelors and a Masters in safety from CMSU. About 25 years in construction safety. What went wrong with all this training and experience to draw upon?

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