older workerAccording to ISHN’s 2015 EHS State of the Nation subscriber survey, overall, income figures, budget resources and staffing levels, job satisfaction and job security show much more stability, and in a number of cases growth, than reported in ISHN State of the Nation surveys 5-10-15 years ago. This is borne out also by the fact only 12% of respondents anticipate expanding work hours in 2015. It appears the EHS profession is enjoying a period of organizational support and positive feelings, no doubt bolstered by the stronger U.S. economy.

Demographics could have something to do with the positive vibes. This is a very mature, experienced profession; most individuals are at the point in their careers where respect has been earned, and with it a certain amount of support and security. Almost two-thirds of the survey respondents are between ages 50-69; with 41% in the 50-59 age bracket. Only 12% are between ages 18-39. The mean age of all respondents is 53. This “graying of the profession” has been a concern to observers of the EHS profession for years now. Short-term, experience and respect have organizational cultural benefits. But long term, will EHS retain its current organizational support 5-10 years from now when thousands of senior EHS leaders, baby boomers, retire? Will the profession be able to attract sufficient new talent?

ISHN’s exclusive subscriber survey was conducted by email November 18 – December 2, 2014. We heard from safety pros, executive managers, plant engineers, environmental specialists and industrial hygienists working in mostly mid-size 100-499 employee companies (22%) and companies with more than 5,000 employees (28%). Forty percent of the surveyed firms have annual revenues of more than $1 billion, and 48% have been in business for more than 50 years. Fifty-one percent of respondents come from either the petro refining / oil and gas sector; utilities; fabricated metal products manufacturing; construction; and transportation equipment manufacturing.