Rely on Occupational Safety & Health ReporterSM for full news coverage and documentation of federal and state workplace safety and health programs, standards, legislation,...
Sept. 21 — More employers may need to depend on safety and health staff members that don’t hold safety professional bachelor or higher degrees, members of an OSHA advisory panel heard Sept. 20.
The work group of the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health is looking at what steps federal workplace safety agencies can take to encourage more students and people searching for new job paths to choose a workplace safety and health career.
Jim Johnson, the work group’s co-chair and vice president of workplace safety initiatives at the National Safety Council, said the panel will look at the roles played by “professionals,” those holding degrees and high-level certifications, and those working as “practitioners” and “technicians,” who have certifications but not degrees.
Safety programs also could be part of courses offered at business and engineering schools, Johnson said.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration head David Michaels requested the committee take on the project. “The occupational safety and health community is small in relation to the size of the field of public health overall and, like many professional disciplines, it has an aging workforce that is experiencing an increasing number of retirements,” Michaels told the committee in June 15 letter.
On Sept. 20, the committee’s work group began the first of at least three sessions talking with educators, professional organizations and safety groups about the current state of the career field and how to expand it.
Among those offering advice was Wes Scott, director of consulting services for the National Safety Council.
One challenge is the profession’s low visibility. “People don’t know it is a career field,” Scott said.
Annette Braam, who helps oversees OSHA’s relationship with college training centers offering safety and health courses, said many people attending classes were doing other tasks at their employers when asked to take on safety and health roles.
Other students take classes because they are looking for new jobs and see safety and health as a growing career field, Braam said.
One of the challenges the training centers face is that state and federal scholarships may not be available because the courses result in certifications for graduates but don’t count as college credit hours, Braam said.
“Funding is absolutely an issue,” Braam said.
There are some college scholarships and federal assistance available for students seeking bachelor and higher degrees. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s Education and Research Centers program supports programs at 18 universities. A few schools emphasize occupational health as part of their larger public health programs.
The most recent major study of the career field was released in 2011 by the institute. The survey estimated that as of 2010 there were more than 48,000 workplace safety professionals in the U.S. workforce. The review estimated that currently 59 percent of the workforce were primarily safety professionals, followed by industrial hygienists (15%), occupational health nursing (9%) and occupational medicine (3%). Of the safety professionals, 48 percent were age 50 or older, raising a question about how to fill the positions of professionals who retire.
The study estimated that universities would annually graduate about 2,640 new professionals, while employers would be looking to fill about 5,000 positions annually.
To contact the reporter on this story: Bruce Rolfsen in Washington at BRolfsen@bna.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at email@example.com
The 2011 National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health report is available at http://src.bna.com/iLv
Copyright © 2016 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)