Our annual White Paper research has indicated some differences in how male and female professionals approach their jobs. Our readers responded on using different tools and tactics, if they do, and how they feel attitudes and philosophies between male and females differ, if at all.

I think males and females approach their jobs in safety and health differently; just as they approach life differently. I have been told some employees feel more comfortable reporting accidents and workplace hazards to female safety and health pros because they tend to have a more sympathetic ear. This may be due to female S&H pros using their "soft" skills a little better than their male counterparts. Males may have the skills also, but may be more reluctant to use them in the workplace.

Linda Tapp, Safety Supervisor Wyeth Ayerst ESI Lederle

The major difference seems to be that males tend to support the engineered approach to safety. For example: fabricate and install a guard, micro switch, and/or sensing devices, point of operation safety screens/guards. Female H.S.E. professionals tend to be more grounded in training and statistic-based metrics. They rely on programs that are broad-based for classroom activities and study/learn paradigms.

Joseph Belskis, Safety Administrator Polaroid

Women want it both ways; special accommodations but equal promotions and job assignments. They tend to be better networkers but also more devious in influencing decisions.

A male, obviously. Title and company name withheld

Yes, they do vary in approach and attitude at times, but consider reasons which are simply different male and female sensibilities. On average, male S&H pros are older and may have come up from the shop floor, or at least had more exposure to manufacturing. They also may identify more with employees at some levels due to the predominance of males in manufacturing. This is not to say one is more or less effective. Rather, their life experience and resulting attitudes differ.

Gerald Edgar, Environmental Safety Coordinator Iowa Mold Tooling

As a female with male associates, I believe there are differences in the way we approach jobs. Generally speaking, of course 21 I use: right things right, one-on-one, business relations, concise e-mail, data/measures, flexibility, coaching. They use: compliance, e-mail, sports relations, rambling e-mail, gut feelings, standard approaches, coach buddies only or nothing.

Name and company withheld

This letter is prompted by your editorial in the February, 1997, issue of ISHN. Its purpose is to further extend your concept of our role as health and safety professionals and rationalization of that role.

We are neither "with the angels" or "doing God"s work," to any greater extent than are others pursuing bona fide human goals in a professionally competent manner. Display or even subtle transmittal of this attitude only alienates others seeking to achieve their defensible goals. Good occupation al health is good business, including an improved bottom line, albeit in the long, not the short term. The beauty of our work is that we can improve the human condition while showing return on investment. A host of performance indicators are available to us to demonstrate that superior health, safety and environmental programs do indeed pay off in hard cash, and employee and community good will. Perhaps our major problem as health and safety professionals stems from the growth of the field from an exclusively technical, scientific base to one having a significant staff management, and often line management function. Too few of our members understand or devote sufficient time and effort to management strategy or performance to achieve health and safety goals.

In my 37 years of graduate university teaching to hygienists, physicians, nurses, and safety professionals, there have been few who failed in their jobs because of technical incompetence. On the other hand, there have been numerous failures in job performance or effectiveness which are directly attributable to so-called "non-technical personnel or management issues." Hygienists and safety professionals must come to terms with the role of their expertise in the broad context of organizations and how they function. A large part of this effort is engendering understanding of the scientific and technical rationales for our recommendations. In other words, we must "sell" programs through education of line managers, supervisors, hourly employees, and the community in a mutually respectful environment. This, combined with scientific, technical competence is the key to a successful effort. OSHA is important as a "driver" of the profession. It is necessary to a greater or lesser degree, depending on the specific organization, but alone it is not sufficient to achieve the desired results.

Morton Corn, Ph.D., Professor and Director Johns Hopkins University, School of Hygiene and Public Health