ASSE: The Safety Profession Is Growing

Nov. 1, 2010
The EHS profession is growing, according to the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE). Not only did Money magazine’s “The 50 Best Jobs in America” list the “environmental, health and safety specialist” job as No. 22, the “environmental engineer” job as No. 5, and the “risk-management manager” job as No.14, but according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of EHS practitioners is expected to increase 9 percent during the 2006-2016 decade.

Additionally, the University of California San Diego Extension listed the EHS profession among a “dozen hot careers for college graduates.”

“We may not be here to see it, but I believe in the next 100 years even greater strides will be made by safety and health professionals in workplace safety, perhaps making workplace fatalities, injuries and illnesses a thing of the past,” said ASSE Region V Vice President Maribeth A. Anderson. “The field is growing.”

Safety professionals work in all industries around the world. They prevent harm to people, property and the environment by applying principles from engineering, education, psychology, physiology, enforcement, hygiene, health, physics and management. For instance, they work in media companies, universities, entertainment companies, food and pharmaceutical companies, oil and gas, automotive, railroad, construction, manufacturing and many more.

“Smart businesses today employ SH&E professionals and continue to update and implement effective work safety programs companywide,” Anderson added. “They know if they don’t do so they not only run the risk of having an employee hurt, but can lose their competitive advantage in today’s worldwide seamless marketplace.”

ASSE members note that investing in safety pays and contributes positively to a company’s bottom line. Businesses spend about $170 billion a year on costs associated with workplace injuries and illnesses and pay almost $1 billion every week to injured employees and their medical providers. In addition, a recent investment firm study in Australia of businesses showed valuation links between workplace safety and health factors and investment performance. It found that companies who did not adequately manage workplace safety issues underperformed those that did.

Safety professionals’ salaries range from about $30,000 for safety inspectors to $150,000+ for highly qualified individuals. Safety professionals are knowledgeable in “safety science,” a 21st century term for everything that goes into the prevention of incidents, illnesses and other events that harm people, property and the environment. Key knowledge areas include chemistry and biology, physics, ergonomics, environmental sciences, psychology, physiology, biomechanics and medicine, engineering, business management, economics, sociology and geology.

The Money magazine ranking of the Top 50 Jobs in America was developed, as reported, based on pay for experienced workers, growth prospects and overall job satisfaction. The UC-San Diego hot career options list for college graduates was developed by the continuing education academic directors based on enrollment trends, an analysis of national employment statistics and discussions with the school extension’s more than 750 business, community and professional association curriculum advisors.

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