Safety At Work a Great Career Choice
Safety management is a career path that may not be listed in the U.S. News 100 best jobs rankings, but it is certainly an important and rewarding occupation no matter your industry of choice. Protecting workers from workplace hazards will always be necessary for productivity, morale, and financial success.
Occupational safety has come a long way in the last 50 years but there is a long way to go, considering that 4,764 workers lost their lives on the job in 2020.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics- https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/cfoi.pdf
Every organization has, or should have, an interest in preventing workplace injuries. Protecting workers is a fundamental responsibility that is often the first business area to get the axe in tough economic conditions. Safety departments with professionals dedicated to helping others are often viewed as expendable overhead, when the opposite is more accurate.
Businesses simply cannot afford injuries, and a comprehensive safety program is vital to preventing real financial losses. Although high direct costs related to workplace injuries have significant impact, indirect costs are far more detrimental. According to the National Safety Council, the cost of workplace injuries in 2020 exceeded $163 billion and resulted in 99,000,000 lost workdays.
As I reflect on my career, it is abundantly clear that safety was critical to my success. This might seem obvious since I’ve spent the last 19 years working as a safety consultant. However, I also spent many years flying aircraft all over the world and, prior to that, worked in emergency medical services. Safety is an integral part of these industries.
Imagine if you stepped onto a commercial flight and the pilot had decided safety wasn’t all that important. An attitude of “if it’s my time - it’s my time” wouldn’t sit too well with you as a passenger since the pilot’s “time” would also be your “time”! Proactive management of all potential hazards is the only answer to safe aircraft operation. After all, the pilot is the first person to the crash site, so I was always determined to do the right thing. Preventing an incident requires proper training, situational awareness, and sound decision making borne from an overriding culture of safety.
But safety isn’t limited to the aviation industry. All businesses need active injury prevention programs. Back injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, and slip/fall injuries, though preventable, are prevalent, and can be extremely debilitating no matter the occupation or worker age. Safety professionals who devote their lives to reducing these painful, and even fatal, experiences will always be in demand. Using their experience and knowledge as professional engineers, nurses, construction managers, warehouse workers, retail supervisors, physical therapists, first responders, and yes, even airline pilots, one can build a resume of success, and the peace of mind that comes with knowing you help workers stay safe.
If you are interested in a career that provides an opportunity to help workers in all industries stay safe so they can enjoy the good things in life, consider becoming a safety professional. Training and education are critical for success: Consider starting with an OSHA Outreach course to better understand the compliance side of safety. Certifications from organizations such as the Board of Certified Safety Professionals can really increase your knowledge and credibility in the world of safety. Join the American Society of Safety Professionals, a great way to learn more about safety careers and opportunities while networking with others in the profession.
The bottom line: Workplace health and safety must be a top priority, but it does not arise out of “common sense” or luck. And while we must all take responsibility for our own safety, and the safety of those around us, we also need help from safety professionals to keep us focused, update us on the latest news and trends, provide effective training, prevent OSHA citations, and continually remind us that we are all in this together.
One moment of inattention can lead to a life-changing injury. If you’ve got what it takes to help keep the world safe, raise your hand and get involved in your company, your safety committee, or your local network of safety professionals.
MEMIC would like to thank Randy Klatt for being our safety net blog editor for over 10 years and writing almost 100 blogs. He is a true safety professional, and we wish him all the best in his upcoming retirement.