Reader Panel - Safety pros say job rewards far outweigh any setbacksWritten by Michelle Gault 14 November 2002
Once a year, we at COS like to check in with readers to see how their careers are going. These people represent most Canadian industries, from manufacturing to education, and from mining to health care. To get a feel for what health and safety professionals like or dislike about their jobs, we sent COS readers this latest Reader Panel survey questionnaire, entitled "Your burning issues." Here's what our 428 survey respondents had to say:
Do you find your h&s career personally fulfilling?
We are glad to report that an impressive 91 percent of respondents said yes. This is not surprising. We figured out long ago that the kinds of people who read our magazine see occupational health and safety as much more than just a way to make a living.
Which of the following is the biggest motivator in your job? (Respondents were asked to check only one answer).
A personal experience I've had with occupational injury/illness 6%
My paycheque 1%
Positive changes I have seen happen 65%
Unacceptable conditions or behaviours I am determined to help change 28%
Clearly "my paycheque" was by far the least of the motivators. Does this mean that health and safety professionals aren't paid very well, or that they don't care about income? Probably not. But, given the 65 percent who said they are motivated by positive changes ? and the other 28 percent who are determined to help change unacceptable conditions or behaviours ? our respondents seem like a dedicated group.
Here are just a few of their additional comments about what keeps them motivated:
· "I have had personal experiences working in factories with horrible conditions. Positive changes are a motivator for those days when the frustration makes you wonder why you do this job."
· "The feeling you get when you speak to someone and later on they tell you about how the talk you gave helped save their life or someone else's life. There is no greater reward than that."
· "There is a lot of personal satisfaction when you implement processes that improve overall safety and you can see the change happen with positive results."
Other respondents expressed frustration:
· "One of the most unsatisfying things about this career is that success and survival of the oh&s program and your job is completely dependent on the way the CEO views the need for oh&s in the organization."
· "Not enough time to do the job."
· "Not enough people are really looking for a way of making things productively safer. They just keep the incident rate looking good for the prime, regardless of how they have to manipulate the numbers."
· "I feel like most times I am babysitting. I always try to keep in mind that I am making a difference, but Rome wasn't built in a day!"
· "I'm presently experiencing burn-out from worker/manager apathy and as a result am contemplating seeking another position outside the company."
Do you feel sufficiently educated, trained and informed to do a good job as a health/safety professional?
Training and education are always a primary concern for oh&s professionals, who need to keep abreast of toxicological hazards and exposure limits, physical hazards in their workplace, legislation updates and compliance requirements, technological advances in protective equipment, human behaviour, and a slew of other complex subjects. In spite of this, we were glad to see that 64 percent of our respondents feel somewhat confident that they can perform their jobs adequately!
· "A few more courses would be of some help to keep up-to-date with a changing world."
· "Can you ever know it all?!"
· "Continuing education/knowledge is paramount to keeping abreast of the overwhelming issues facing industry today."
· "Health and safety is approximately 25 percent of my job. I attempt to keep up on all new issues and legislation, however I find that I miss some items unless they are covered in your magazine. Thank you."
· "Training never really ends."
· "One word: BUDGET."
· "It's changing too fast to keep up."
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Published in Reader Panel