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Safety management.

One General Motors official noted that in the late 1980s, the company had to develop and produce 168,000 vehicles just to cover its annual workers' compensation costs. Nationwide surveys, showing that the demand for safety managers is on the upswing, further attest to the pressing need for individuals with extensive safety training to serve in private industry, government, mining and education.

Engineers can define and abate safety and health problems in the workplace, but industry and government need knowledgeable and adept managers to implement these types of programs. Safety management professionals are responsible for determining future safety trends and designing programs to satisfy future needs. Thus, it is vital that the training of future managers and professionals reflect the growth of the field's importance, and that educational programs are designed to be strong in both foundation and application concepts.

While the need for the management approach to safety is getting stronger day by day, the sophistication of the safety movement has gone only so far beyond the original paradigms of the safety function and manager. The real need today is to bring all of those involved in safety under one umbrella. The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, and more recently the Consumer Products Safety Commission, have accentuated a long-existing need for management-oriented (not just engineering- or enforcement-oriented) programs aimed at preparing students to serve within the safety and health functions as directors, coordinators, or managers in business or government agencies. And individuals with extensive training and concentration in safety and health studies are the people of choice to plan, establish and conduct these educational programs.

Setting an Agenda

School administrators and safety and health professionals alike must first agree upon program standards, and then decide what the future trends in safety are likely to be. The curriculum should assure that students understand both the foundation and application concepts emphasized by the contemporary safety and health movement. In order to assist schools and colleges in establishing or improving programs for effective accidental loss countermeasures, educators must observe those trends that favorably affect personnel and the work environment and weigh the impact. Furthermore, educators must recognize that if line supervisors and corporate professionals operate independently rather than together to achieve explicitly stated objectives, the end result will most likely be program failures in the workplace.

There have been many terms used within the safety discipline to explain the definition of "safety." One states that "safety is a discipline that deals with: causation and prevention of accidents; mitigation of accident consequences; care of injured persons; salvage of damaged property; and protection of the accident site." There are other definitions too numerous to discuss, but each one conveys the same basic information. Truly, then, safety managers must be corporate generalists (those with a handle on all the various components of an organization) and that is where their strength will lie.

On the other hand, it must be recognized that occupational specialization based on industry type can provide expanded career opportunities for safety professionals since hazards and subsequent safety requirements vary according to the enterprise, production techniques, size and design of the plant, and the composition of the work force. For example, the problems and expertise of a safety manager in a glass making factory will obviously differ somewhat from those of a safety supervisor at an automobile manufacturing plant.

In the early 1980s the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) conducted a study"The Nationwide Survey of the Occupational Safety and Health Workforce"-to provide information for assessment and guidance to educational instructors and individuals interested in careers in occupational safety and health, governmental agencies, foundations-in short, anyone with an interest in manpower needs and development in this field. The NIOSH study also discussed the expected annual rise of new employees in the occupational safety and health employment base. It is interesting to note that the study indicated an annual demand for 5,300 occupational safety and health-related personnel from 1977 to 1980, tapering off to between 3,000 and 4,400 annually throughout the last decade. However, recent surveys and anecdotal evidence, such as an apparent increase in government and industry recruitment of safety and health graduate school students, suggests that demand for this type of personnel is once again on the rise. No matter what the numbers are, the fact remains that career opportunities for safety managers are continuously expanding and the demand will continue to increase into the next decade. But essential for success is the requirement of a basic educational background as a prerequisite for all safety managers.

Program Design

Today, as more young people with an interest in environmental issues, human trauma and economic losses resulting from accidents, enter the work force, it should be expected that many of them will consider a career in the safety, health or environmental fields. The question must then be asked, "What should we be doing to design programs for those students planning a career as safety and health practitioners?"

First, the curriculum should be aimed at assuring the understanding of both foundation and application concepts and must represent both traditional and contemporary thinking. The educational foundation should emphasize those specific fundamentals and concepts pertinent to safety. Topics that must be embraced in the foundation areas include: trends in accident prevention control; safety analysis of human and machine tasks; hazard identification and control countermeasures; human and environmental safety factors; and safety legislation (standards and compliance). Other topics that need to be incorporated into the curriculum include: history, philosophy and psychology of safety; legal and liability aspects of safety; disaster and emergency preparedness; fire protection and prevention; and safety research, measurement and evaluation. The application area of safety should emphasize safety and health problems and issues in the traditional categories, such as industrial and construction safety, home and family safety, driver and traffic safety, and community safety.

Role of Management

The role that safety managers can play in preventing and controlling accidents is becoming increasingly crucial. Private industry and business are changing their safety priorities in the workplace to conform to the safety and occupational health needs of their employees. But the federal government has gone one step further, taking the position that safety belongs in the personal realm of living. In terms of positive results, NIOSH reports that in 1991, the nation held accidental deaths to less than 100,000 for the 10th consecutive year, and its lowest number - 88,000 - in 67 years. Because of population increases, the accidental death rate in the United States is now the lowest on record, at roughly 35 accidental deaths per 100,000 people per year. The 199]- motor vehicle mileage death rate (2.85 per ]_00 million miles traveled) decreased somewhat, and death from home and work accidents also decreased. These figures demonstrate that the increased emphasis on safety is paying dividends. To advance these trends, safety professionals must continue to take the leadership role in promoting the development of safe and healthy individual lifestyles and provide guidance and counseling to students in appropriate learning opportunities as they work toward their career goals.

Leadership in the safety field will always be needed. There are many reasons for targeting this capability when searching for the right person to administer safety policies and procedures, recognize potential hazards and supervise regulatory compliance, worker protection efforts and safe operational techniques. In fact, it is the multi-dimensional nature of a safety professional's task that makes the selection process so important. Furthermore, safety professionals must be able to understand people and their motivations and methods of dealing with problems. It is also generally agreed that any successful safety program must have the backing of top management.

As the discipline grows, safety managers are finding more value in the various tasks they perform. The career opportunities in the safety field have and will continue to improve the workers' well-being and lower the cost of accidental fatalities, injuries and property losses.

Thus, for those who choose the safety field as a career, they will find their work visible, meaningful, fulfilling and beneficial to the quality of life of all people. But to ensure this, safety managers must continue to acquire skills in order to meet all requirements important to the corporate culture of the workplace. Meanwhile, educators must not, for even one moment, relax their standards or efforts.

Employment Opportunities for Safety Professionals

The type of employees currently working and those who will be hired in the future are changing. Today's employees are better educated, more financially secure and were raised in a more permissive environment than workers in the past. Since safety positions carry such broad responsibilities and involve numerous tasks, career opportunities for safety professionals are increasing in both number and scope. Here are some examples from the following types of governmental, business and educational organizations:

Governmental Agencies: U. S. Departments of Transportation, Labor and Interior; police departments; the Federal Emergency Management Administration; the U.S. armed services; the Mining Safety and Health Administration; and traffic engineering departments.

Business: Insurance carriers; national or state safety councils; trade organizations, private consultants; research laboratories; manufacturing firms; retail and wholesale businesses; hospitals and clinics; driving schools; construction companies and legal firms.

Educational Institutions: Elementary and secondary schools; vocational and technical schools; colleges and universities; and cooperating educational service agencies.

Professional Organizations: The American National Standards Institute; the National Safety Management Society; the American Society of Safety Engineers; the National Safety Council; the American Safety Society; the National Fire Protection Association; and the American Society for Testing and Materials.
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Title Annotation:in the workplace
Author:Della-Giustina, Daniel
Publication:Risk Management
Date:Jul 1, 1993
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