Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Mentoring Future Leaders: Proper Mentoring Is One Way to Make the Occupational Safety and Health Profession More Attractive to Students and Young Professionals

Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Mentoring Future Leaders: Proper Mentoring Is One Way to Make the Occupational Safety and Health Profession More Attractive to Students and Young Professionals

Article excerpt

In April's issue, I talked to some of the country's leading occupational safety and health educators about the state of safety education. The discussion mostly focused on the quality of degree programs offered to fledgling safety professionals, industrial hygienists and occupational health professionals--we all agreed the quality of safety education and safety educators was high--and whether or not there will be enough degreed occupational safety and health and industrial hygiene professionals to meet the needs of business and government in the coming years.

"Enrollments are declining and universities are cutting back on programs," acknowledged Richard Fairfax, OSHA's director of Enforcement Programs. OSHA has lost or is losing a number of longtime employees to retirement, and Fairfax is feeling the pinch.

"From my perspective, in Washington, D.C., I have to contend with the high cost of living when hiring," Fairfax said. Companies are competing for the best students coming out of occupational safety and health programs around the country, with some students receiving multiple job offers that offer a higher starting pay than that offered in an entry-level government job.

Fairfax said he's finding it easier to hire employees who can write and analyze OSHA data, then have seasoned employees mentor them in EHS and encourage them to get professional certification later.

Other organizations, such as the American Industrial Hygiene Association, are actively recruiting and mentoring new members. …

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