Taking the Pulse of EHS

Is the heart of the environmental, health and safety profession still beating across the country, or is it in need of some resuscitation?

Is the heart of the environmental, health and safety profession still beating across the country, or is it in need of some resuscitation? The Center for Environmental Innovation, in partnership with the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, wants to know.

The center, with help from a number of environmental, health and safety associations, is sponsoring a project to gain a broad understanding of the current state of environmental, health, and safety professionals within corporations, government and consulting. Organizations that are sponsoring the study, include the Air & Waste Management Association, the American Industrial Hygiene Association, the American Society of Safety Engineers, the Environmental Law Institute, the National Association for Environmental Management, the National Association of Environmental Professionals, the National Environmental Health Association and the Water Environment Federation.

This project - what the center calls "taking the pulse" - is intended to be a real-life examination of the professionals who are currently practicing in one or more of the EHS professions. In addition to gathering information from EHS professionals, employers will be contacted to obtain their perspectives on and expectations of the EHS function and the EHS profession. The purpose of the project is to answer the question: "How can EHS professionals add greater value and resolve the emerging global EHS issues we all face?"

The initial phase of the project will involve a general survey of EHS professionals combined with up to three, one-day focus group sessions hosted at The Wharton School. Invitees to these sessions will include current EHS professionals and other individuals who represent various management positions in organizations. The sessions will examine whether or not the EHS profession is in a difficult position to adequately deal with emerging issues. Through the survey and the focus groups, the center hopes to assess the current state-of-the-health of the EHS profession; determine essential practices to avoid losing EHS professionals; and discover key areas for further investigation.

The completed report will be made available to the survey and focus group participants and also shared in various forms with the news media.

During the second phase of the project, the center will interview key EHS leaders and business managers and will conduct additional focus group sessions in workshops held during professional conferences. This second phase will focus on the development of guidelines and best practices for organizations to utilize in maintaining and sustaining their EHS professional workforce. The second phase should help the center determine:

  • The steps being taken to address the coming wave of EHS professional retirements;
  • Current best practices to develop an EHS professional workforce;
  • The member needs of professional organizations; and
  • Management''s perspectives, expectations and valuation for the EHS function.

Visit www.enviro-innovate.org/POP_main.htm for more information about the "Taking the Pulse" project.

by Sandy Smith ([email protected])

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