My first encounter with outsourcing goes back to the early 1980s. I had a job with a company whose business wasn’t going well. I knew there were economic problems, and I moved on, giving my job to an OSHA area supervisor who wanted some industry experience before becoming a consultant, his ultimate goal. I told him what the situation was, and that there was no guarantee how long he would have the job. Sure enough, about a year later the company eliminated his position. But everything worked out fine: My successor opened his consulting business, with his first client being the company who just let him go. Plus, he made more money out of the deal.
Around the same time, one of the largest employers in the area began to outsource site-specific safety and industrial hygiene work. I recall other rumors in the 1980s of companies planning to use consultants for safety and health.