Magazine article Occupational Hazards

The 1999 National Safety Survey

Magazine article Occupational Hazards

The 1999 National Safety Survey

Article excerpt

Safety health and environmental personnel report on what they do, what they make and how they are faring in the battle against workplace injuries and illnesses.

Got plenty of time on your hands? If you do, there are a host of your peers in safety, health and environmental management that could use some help. When asked what the biggest obstacle was to getting their jobs done, readers participating in Occupational Hazards' National Safety Survey cited lack of time as the chief culprit. One safety manager complained that there are "not enough hours in the day." Another worried about "juggling multiple responsibilities and priorities." Observed one safety/security director: "Any safety process can be improved. Just allocate time and money."

Survey respondents also cited lack of management support as a serious obstacle. One construction safety manager reported: "Management of this company is sitting on its heels, waiting for a citation before taking action on safety." A corporate safety manager said the "lip service" paid to safety by senior management "radiates down to the field level and is perceived as a lack of commitment." A safety coordinator noted wearily the continuing need to educate management "on the benefits -- and cost savings -- of a complete safety program."

Time management problems reported by safety and health personnel were likely due to the fact that 50 percent of them said their current safety and health staff was not "adequate to meet program needs." One safety director noted that lack of staff "requires me to manage a broad program while mired in clerical tasks."

The Safety Profile

Our survey reflects the fact that "safety jobs" usually involve duties covering a number of management and technical disciplines. While 94 percent said they were responsible for safety, 76 percent reported occupational health, responsibility and 65 percent have industrial hygiene duties. Some 60 percent were responsible for fire protection, 55 percent for environmental management and 49 percent for administering workers' compensation programs.

A majority of respondents -- 61 percent -- work at individual plants or facilities. Some 22 percent were on corporate staffs, while 5 percent operated at a division level. Six percent worked for the government, while 5 percent were consultants and 1 percent worked in educational institutions.

Experience in the EHS field among our respondents varied widely. Some 28 percent were relative newcomers, having worked in the field less than five years. Another 23 percent reported working five to 10 years in EHS, and 21 percent had 11 to 15 years of experience. Some 12 percent had 16 to 20 years experience and 16 percent had more than 20 years experience.

Approximately half our respondents -- 53 percent -- had bachelor's degrees, while 23 percent had master's degrees and 3 percent had doctorates. Some 21 percent of readers reported a high school degree as their highest level of education.

Salary levels reported put the single-biggest group -- 24 percent -- in the $45,000 to $54,000 range. A combined 32 percent reported incomes of $25,000 to $34,000 or $35,000 to $44,000. Eighteen percent of readers reported incomes of $55,000 to $64,000, and another 18 percent had incomes between $65,000 and $84,000. Seven percent of readers had incomes in the $85,000 to $104,000 range. Only 1 percent of readers had incomes of $105,000 or more, with one lucky reader reporting an income in excess of $250,000.

A large majority of readers -- 77 percent - said their compensation was not tied to the safety performance of their organization.

Safety and health personnel are turning to the Internet in increasing numbers to gather information. Some 22 percent said they research safety, health and environmental information online on a daily basis. Another 34 percent said they use the Internet at least once a week, while 27 percent said they use it monthly. …

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