Reactions to ISHN’s 27th annual White Paper reader survey

I think, for the most part, that the priorities for OSHA were about where we all feel they should be. I am pleasantly surprised to see that a General Industry Combustible Dust Standard made the top five.

I find it somewhat troubling that more than half don't think fines from OSHA should be increased. Is this fear talking? Is it I am afraid that I am going to get more work talking? Look at the way the EPA does it. They hit hard with fines when they have to or need to. OSHA fines are about as helpful to moving the industry forward as a speeding ticket. And we all know how well speeding tickets have reduced speeding on the highways. But if the fines for speeding started at $1,000, I can bet that far fewer people would be speeding.

The results of Safety Pros Focus and Duties that Impede our Progress is significantly troubling. This to me speaks to the issue of whether or not senior leadership in an organization truly gets it. If they got it and they wanted their organizations to not be headline news every year then they would provide the true leadership and resources to get to the root of many of their problems. Most major changes in safety and occupational health don't come about because we or our leadership were forward thinking. On the contrary, most changes typically come about as a knee jerk reactions to something devastating that has recently happened. I have seen too many incident investigations where the teams only look for the cause of why something blew up. Instead we should be looking for all of the contributing causes that lead to the primary causes (you know, true root cause analysis).

76% of those who responded seem to indicate that they would like to see more safety activism. But let's be real, how many of those respondents are willing to "stand up and be counted"? I have sat in too many professional meetings where I feel as if I am with a bunch of sheep. Everyone wants to be led to the promised land but they don't always want to be out front leading. We will continue to be in this funk we are in until our own attitudes and activism come from within. Senior leadership in most organizations doesn't want to talk to a sheepish SHE professional. They also want a leader who can show them what is not right and THEN show them how to fix the problems.

DEMOGRAPHICS...this is what is going to put out the flames and silence the music. 63% of us are 50 years or older. That is devastatingly shocking and most probably true. We are turning into a bunch of AARPers. WE NEED NEW YOUNGER BLOOD OR WE ARE IN BIG TROUBLE. The other major part of our demographics problem is that there is only 16% female in our ranks. This has to change. Women now make up 51% of the workforce in the U.S. We need to do a MUCH better job of recruiting at university programs. We must help our universities to help us.

Aaron Chen