Of course you’re going to hear this at an EHS conference like the AIHce. But like many professions, the EHS ranks have not recovered completely from the sometimes draconian cuts suffered during the Great Recession of 2007-2008. One IH at the conference worked for a Fortune 50 multinational that cut its number of Certified Industrial Hygienists by 87 percent, he said. “When EHS is cut to the bone, what can you do for protection?” he asked. “You can’t even operate in a maintenance mode.”

But in today’s gig economy, many companies contract out EHS work, especially industrial hygiene work, in place of adding to staff and the “benefits burden.” Unfortunately, many in the field know from years of experience that staffing up EHS departments often happens only after a disaster or major enforcement action by EPA or OSHA.

The irony is that technology is now capable of collecting more EHS data than ever before.—from wireless monitoring systems to personal wearables. But staff shortages could leave huge chunks of data unanalyzed, and ticking time bombs buried in unsorted records.