Safety and Health Professionals are Essential
By Susen Trail | 05/25/2020
Did you know that Safety and Health professionals are considered essential?
While the Bureau of Labor Statistics recent statistics show an increase in the number of preventable fatalities the number of qualified safety and health professionals is still flatlined and aging. The National Industrial Occupational Safety and Health conducted a National Assessment of Occupational Safety and Health Workforce, NAOSHW, in 2011 found that Business intended to hire over 25,000 Occupational Safety and Health professionals while only 13,000 new, qualified, graduates were available that year. The percent of the safety professional population between 25-29 years old is only 3%.
At the same time 48% of Safety professionals are over the age between 50 and 59 years old. While 20% of the entire US workforce are over the age of 55 according to this article from BrandonGaille. But, it’s actually worse than you think. The Assessment shows that a total of 46% of all safety professionals are over the age of 50 and 26% are over 60 years old.
That leaves 72% of all experienced safety professionals above the normal job seeker age, in the job discrimination range of 50 to dead. For example, another article on Bradongaille.com that demonstrates, via statistics, that workers over the age of 55 are 53% less likely to be hired.
From my experience most Occupational Safety and Health professionals are not like you average workers. This isn’t just a job to us. Management is generally unaware of the safety activities taking place in their businesses until the worker’s comp insurance MOD rate is decreased or there is an accident large enough to increase the MOD rate, slow production, cause a sudden worker exodus, or some of the other events indicating a failed safety culture and, though they may not admit it, safety leadership. It is a sad fact that employees in safety and health are the first fired and last hired.
The truth is that Safety and Health professionals are like a fine wine, we grow better 'with age'. If you hire a Certified Industrial Hygienist, CIH, or a Certified Safety Professional, CSP, they are committed to a high level of continuing education to keep their certification. Trust me, we will do just about anything to avoid that 8 hour long exam that feels more like a fraternity hazing than a qualification exam. The pass rate is less than 50% year after year.
Usually, this continuing education is selected from classes that are specific to their work for you, their employer. This means that, for every year they work for you they are committed to learning new ways to become more of an asset to your business and STILL safety professionals are last hired and first fired.
But let's get down to the crux of the crisis for the 8 million businesses that come under OSHA's enforcement purview. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS, data shows that government gets the lion's share of Occupational Health and Safety specialists at 22%.
It sounds like sour grapes but I do have a point. According to the BLS there are 98,000 Occupational Health and Safety Specialists in America while there are 8 million employers that must comply with OSHA standards. And that is where Simple Safety Coach comes in.
Most employers are left assigning the responsibilities for their worker’s safety and health to someone that has little to no background in the field. There is a company I know that presents with a VERY familiar cycle in my field. She worked for a company, coming in as a safety intern, worked very hard, earned her Certified Industrial Hygienist qualification yet was still she was working for only slightly above her intern’s salary. Surprise, she left and tripled her earnings immediately.
When Simple Safety Coach was founded, we wanted to address:
- The disparity between the number of qualified Safety Professionals and the number of businesses that need them.
- The number of businesses that make do with adding Safety Professional duties to underqualified existing employees.
- The number of Safety Professionals that do an excellent job yet have trouble conveying their value to management.
Simple Safety Coach's response to this problem is to provide software that supports the underqualified appointed Safety Manager through information from experienced Safety and Health Professionals:
- A Resource Library and background
- Guidance through OSHA forms such as those related to injury/illness reporting
- Reduction in paperwork so there is more time to focus on prevention actions
- A Return on Safety Investment feature that provides a graph to demonstrate the positive contribution to the bottom line to help remove Safety from the ‘Overhead’ category
There are many places online, including osha.gov, that will show you the positive effects of having a Safety Professional on your team. Let Simple Safety Coach give you the hard numbers to demonstrate that in your workplace!