Professional development

2021 Job Outlook

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2021 Safety+Health Job Outlook Survey

Respondent comments: Has the COVID-19 pandemic raised the profile of the occupational safety and health profession?

Needed more EHS for work linked to COVID-19.

Too much knee-jerk reactions to hyped paranoia that could have been managed much better without media interference.

More focus on keeping employees who are not well out of the workplace – temperature screenings send the message to stay home if running a fever.

Pandemic shoved down our psych; media drove it home.

From my perspective, employers see us as experts in health and safety. Not personal health but industrial health and risk. We work with risk every day and understand how to prevent injuries and this is really no different. I have heard from many of my network and like me their employer was dependent on me/them to lead the charge to prevent illness and research what was out there for screening equipment and safety equipment to isolate workers.

COVID guidelines increased the need for skilled EHS personnel.

COVID added to the responsibilities of safety personnel.

Mask mandates, HIPAA involvement.

Providing subject matter expertise and being a knowledgeable liaison with public health officials.

No, thank you.

The safety professional has stepped up and served as the COVID-19 Safety Officer at lots of facilities in Kentucky. At least at the facility level, it has raised the safety pro’s profile.

Approval of Safety Plans and business operations reopening.

Indirectly in safely reopening, as we have been closed for the past year.

More people depend on safety personnel, asking for specific PPE and which mask is better than the other.

Some people are asking what to do in case I have a fever? What to do if I suspect my co-worker has the virus? and so on and so forth.

More questions, and we are more of a looked to resource. Some potential additional validation on the H&S information sent out.

Safety professionals are expected to maintain a safe working environment. Which includes maintaining protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Companies look toward the expertise of their safety professionals to create or maintain the protocols.

Health and safety was already very important at our facility before COVID.

There is more coordination amongst other departments.

Safety department is turned to for the answers and helps develop the COVID procedures, programs and protocols. Our safety departments is where the majority of the contact tracers exist. Safety department is where industrial hygienists and occupational medical specialists are included which have also seen an uptick in activities due to COVID-19.

COVID-19 has placed more responsibilities on a Safety Department. We have to keep up with the current data along with all the other functions we currently have to handle.

There is added responsibility to not only manage the health and safety of company personnel but also the subcontractor workforces on our projects.

Safety professionals are now saddled with health issues. As a communicable disease, employers should not be held accountable as much as they currently are. It is difficult to control who is and isn’t sick and additional stress is placed on the safety professional, causing other more pressing matters to fall through the cracks.

Took away the focus from safety on the manufacturing floor, where we can make a direct impact, to something that organization cannot control. Associates have a life outside of work that is bigger influence on COVID. Huge disruption to productivity with no control ability by organization.

They expect us to help out with contact tracing, enforcement of mask use and other practices.

More reliance on EHS folks to define policy as it relates to COVID to manage risk. I have seen a mix of EHS and/or HR take on this role at various facilities.

I moved into this role from finance and then COVID started. A lot of my job has been focused on understanding COVID and making sure we have everything we need to keep our workforce safe. I have created new policies and protocols.

We are a healthcare institution of higher education and have clinic operations as part of our teaching and service to our communities. Our healthcare staff has relied on us to help with acquisition of PPE and other supplies throughout the pandemic through the Emergency Preparedness Division within our department.

I think some departments within our company (HR, Legal, and certain executives, for example) have a better idea about what our OSH professionals do for the company. The operations folks already were well aware.

A pandemic that involves an airborne pathogen is right up the alley of a safety & health professional.

Has stayed the same.

More requirements to ensure that the facility is safe for our employees and visitors.

The department of health will manage all issues for COVID-19.

Increased reliance on S&H professionals to help guide through the COVID landscape.

The pandemic has brought the field into the public eye more than ever. If not for the safety team searching and obtaining PPE, then delivering to the sites, several people would have been without PPE.

Demands by clients and meeting regulatory changes by states, etc.

Increased inspections and requirements are driving the need for qualified EHS.

Current safety employees encompassed the needs from COVID-19.

Safety professionals are following recommended guidelines.

Elevated the CDC website.

Yes, because illness comes into the picture. Although it’s been reportable if it is job-related, it is difficult with COVID to separate it because some of the workers refuse to tell us if they are sick because they need to work and are willing to expose others.

Yes, there has been more attention brought to safety in general because of the pandemic. It forced companies to take steps to be more proactive.

I have not seen companies rely heavily on the OHS group to handle COVID. There seems to be so much politics and social factors playing into it that companies want to handle it like a PR problem and utilize senior managers to craft policy and messages rather than rely on professionals and experts in OHS to develop programs. COVID seems to defy all logic in how companies are handling what is entirely an OHS issue. To that end I have seen no change in the field and no reliance on OHS to do anything but execute the actions of what has become a PR issue.

No, it was another expected duty.

Everyone is more health conscious now; safety issues still pose the same risk so leadership leans on the safety professional even more.


I am held more responsible for any outbreaks; have to ensure all employees are following federal guidelines.

Pandemic response has expanded the EHS role. With guidance changing rapidly, especially in the beginning, I have a noticeable uptick in how often I am consulted for guidance on CVOID-19 matters, be it clarification on internal precaution policies or consulting on quarantine and return to work.

We have been (by default) thrown into the roles of managing employee COVID cases/exposures. We have had to learn and understand the disease and keep up with the constant changes and manage accordingly, including managing several employees isolated simultaneously, return to work, and distancing/face coverings/sanitation policies in the workplace. Very time-consuming but necessary.

At my location worker safety and health has been leading the response.

We are expected to continue working as a safety professional and be a COVID expert as well.

Seems there are a few more opportunities for employment than the past year.

Our skills are sought out more so than before, and have brought health and safety to the forefront.

It depends on the organization. In some organizations, the HR team has assumed the responsibility of managing COVID activities and the safety professional manages OSHA interactions and provides input to the company COVID response plan.  In other organizations, the safety professional owns the full COVID response. So I believe it is organization-specific.

Greater reliance on safety professionals to support teams.

COVID has taken over the occupational safety and health focus temporarily. Some of the precautions and mitigation strategies will be used more regularly to prevent transmission of any airborne disease.

Responsible individual for Commonwealth of Virginia Infectious Diseases Plan conformance to include training, surveillance, inspections and audits.

I haven’t seen any difference. Businesses that have been working from home aren’t looking to H&S professionals for assistance and there are some that will probably continue working from home or will downsize their facilities for a combination of onsite and work from home.

Safety and health professionals have had to use existing tools to manage COVID-19 guidance that was implemented.  As the guidance changed during the pandemic, these professions had to be able to articulate and motivate the workforce to help prevent the spread of the virus in the workplace.  Managers relied heavily on the safety and health professionals during the pandemic.

Our organization formed an Incident Management Team to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. My position as a safety and health manager was critical in determining the safest course of actions, to ensure our employees can operate safely in a hazardous environment. The organization relied heavily on my inputs, judgements and interpretations of OSHA, CDC, DHEC and the WHO when dealing with the coronavirus.  My safety expertise was crucial with conducting risk assessments, to determine the best course of actions to get work completed, while keeping employees safe at the same time.

In my organization I have been more involved in making decisions for policies.

Well, with the mandatory mask mandates our city government has instituted (due to our Wyoming governor’s mandatory mask mandate), it opens up the safety professional to having more duties to get done (respiratory protection program, getting with custodial staff to ensure we are not only cleaning but disinfecting our facilities, and ensuring HR notify the Safety Manager if we ever have a work-related COVID positive contact tracing).  These additional job duties tasked most safety professionals but especially those who are operating with a limited staff (only one person in the Safety Division).

The pandemic is the Super Bowl of safety!

The added/highlighted need for overall disease control, contact tracing and workplace sanitization.

People have become more familiar with the importance of PPE.

If we recall the potential of an Influenza pandemic several years ago, most should have a Pandemic Business Continuity Program. I do not believe many have recalled their previous program and assume they had to start all over again.

Most COVID-related stuff has been delegated to the safety department, from policymaking to enforcement. It also made the safety department more of a hub when working in larger multidisciplinary teams.

It has given others a better understanding of everything a safety professional does and can do.

Safety professionals have added responsibility now with the pandemic, such as working with upper management to implement social distancing techniques, while maintaining production. Temperature monitoring is another added responsibility.

Let’s just say a wide number of people know no more now than they did a year ago regarding respiratory protection, but they act and make decisions as if they do. Impossible to tell them now that that is the case, they have what I call Artificial Knowledge of respiratory protection. I’m sure it is the same at many other work environments, wearing masks for protection has really confused a lot of people as they do nothing for the wearer or those around the wearer.  Very sad.

We did a pandemic plan many years ago.

Senior political leadership refused to provide funding for implementation and annual exercises.

COVID guidelines closely align with many safety and health guidelines already in-place and enforced in the workplace.

Organization management and clients looking for current information and advice about COVID-19 trends and prevention measures.

Numerous employees look to safety to sift through the information and scale it down for their consumption.

COVID-19 has definitely increased the awareness for health and safety, but I also think that hiring managers are underestimating the value of the profession. I have seen colleagues labeled as essential but not given the resources they need to ensure the safety of their employees. While everyone’s budgets were cut, EHS budgets seem to be the most drastically impacted.

Internally, companies have placed a lot of responsibilities associated with COVID compliance and regulatory interpretation/implementation onto their H&S professionals.

We were depended heavily on to provide expertise and guidance to get through the pandemic.

Everyone just followed the CDC guidelines. Safety profession took a backseat to that.

Safety professionals have driven, coached, and mentored others in COVID-19 practices and protocols at companies nationwide to ensure that they provide safe and healthful workplaces.

Having to keep up with changing regulations and recommendations.

Being responsible for health, safety and environmental putting precautions into place, tracking effectiveness, and ensuring compliance has put a lot of strain on the safety department and has put us in front of executive management frequently.

Although the term safety & health is widely abused .... I believe the pandemic allowed for ALL safety to be in the spotlight

Managers talk about how their priority is the health and safety of their employees, but it’s mostly just talk.

Implementing COVID plans and procedures has been a full-time job ensuring worker safety and compliance and with travel restrictions impedes our auditing process.

It is a synthetic pandemic.

They can spell PPE now and understand the importance better.

More awareness on occupational safety and wellness.

Taken on many more responsibilities around COVID, tracking, and managing absences due to potential exposures.

Just another piece of the safety culture to address.

The health portion of the job is usually fairly understated and parts of other processes. Pandemic certainly made that come to the forefront and added a whole new dimension to the profession.

Uncertain. Although there is more discussion about health related to the virus, the information is widely distributed and known by entry-level persons. Most companies have implemented precautions for virus containment that wouldn’t necessarily require an EHS resource.

More responsibility with the same pay.

OSHA has been brought into the conversation regarding the virus, which in turn raises the profile of the safety and health profession.

Though companies are “concerned about your personal safety in these unprecedented times,” most let their safety staff go on the first round of furlough.

I have seen no change from a field standpoint.

Most don’t even realize the need for safety policies regarding COVID. I didn’t find out until a month ago!

Had to develop COVID emergency response and action plan. Training about proper hygiene practices and inspection of jobsites to ensure compliance with COVID policies.

Just ensuring compliance with the safety measures in place due to COVID.

Added workload.

OSH professionals have to be trained in many aspects related to COVID -19 rules and regulations, guidance and parameters prior to implementation at the different project sites

H&S team were on to of all the aspects of C19; guided their organization to safely navigate during the tough times.

Government & top management relied and assigned the job of pandemic control measurement to safety & health profession, especially at industrial area. Moreover the job performed by professional as a dedicated manner created profile efficiency more.

More involved in prevention of spread of the virus, in establishing screening and returning to work policy.

It has changed regulations on employers and opened doors for new ways for employees to work.

In the community setting I feel the profession has become more important; however within my organization I do not feel there has been much change.

More media coverage emphasizing health safety of employees and companies (retailers, restaurant and hospitality industry especially) where employers mandating compliance with CDC/WHO guidelines. I expect as “guidelines” melt away from dominant media coverage, the thought will remain and employers will “assign” the topic to onsite professional (may need to be hired ... may be “new” position other than occupational safety) for a generation. Actually, could be a new trend that shifts the focus over stages that occupational safety incorporates and considers health and safety ... but will need to shift and re-size over several years/a generation.

The pandemic has caused a lot more stress for EHS professionals, because most employers look toward them for guidance during the pandemic, but a majority of EHS professionals have zero experience with dealing with public health issues.

Have included more emergency management and business continuity knowledge.

Non-safety personnel more aware of need to have someone obtain, compose, present, implement “plans” and engineering controls, observe compliance in the field, and procure more varied PPE and disinfecting supplies.

I believe employers lean more on safety professionals.

Our profile is still low because we have too many UN-qualified hacks working in it. I’m glad that the medical profession is tighter on who can practice medicine. They use qualified LHCPs. Conversely, we often use Safety Witch Doctors.

Companies are putting greater effort into providing a safe working environment for all employees and customers in the wake of the pandemic.

Due to government requirements in prevention to COVID-19.

Needed to alleviate fears of COVID-19 exposure by repeatedly expressing the need to use PPE and follow CDC recommendations for personal hygiene (i.e. handwashing, not touching face, etc.). Prior to CDC’s issuance of infection control protocol, we had to remind employees to distance themselves and not congregate.

More visible with more duties.

Employees look at us as pandemic experts.

EHS professionals have had a significant role in the awareness and prevention of the spread of COVID-19.

I think the pandemic has put employees’ health and safety at the forefront and it made companies realize that they need someone dedicated to those issues within an organization.

With COVID-19, OSH professionals are now being looked at more often to ensure the health and safety of employees, facilities/offices, and agencies as a whole. COVID-19 has finally allowed OSH professionals the opportunity to at least be heard at the “Table” if not having a seat at the “Table.” Executive management is now seeing what OSH professionals are doing, can do, and have the ability to do. Executive management is also seeing those who are in positions who are not as qualified as they need to be.

In sync with WHO, IHO, SHO, GOVT and private safety organizations.

Much more interest devoted to filtrating facepiece respirators following the shortage of PPE. Education and training on good personal hygiene, disinfection as well as hand sanitization.

Added what feels to be temporary emphasis to existing responsibilities. However, caused the need to be creative in how we do our job, such as doing virtual training.

Industry 4.0 will clearly make its impact as AI and technology creates a paradigm shift.

It just added more to safety roles.

In some ways, unbeknownst to management, they had a whole department that could step in and step up to the challenge of safety during a pandemic. Our upper administration has expressed how grateful they are that we have been able to do what we do for the good of the company.

COVID does not matter.

People are looking to the safety job for answers on how to and what needs to be done to stay safe and be compliant.

Our company provides daily temperature screening. Our nurse is active in pandemic risk mitigation.

Safety, Production and HR are coordinated at my company for the COVID issues. Some issues more directed by HR due to privacy and economic employment concerns. As a smaller staff that can socially separate, we have been less affected. More employees have asked questions, but they are directed to the staff that can best answer their question or we coordinate the consensus of management. No one has the end-all authority on an answer without the proper research and discussion.

EHS professionals had to learn how to pivot in this ever-changing job market and learn how to incorporate all types of COVID prevention throughout the workplace.

People think they know more than the safety professional. It’s the same issue that doctors are having.   People read a few articles and now they’re experts at respiratory protection and viruses.

The profile of the occupational safety and health profession has not raised as a whole. However, I do believe that those specializing in industrial hygiene has increased.

The COVID-19 is a serious problem, but still there’s a people in the working area that are blinded, and don’t care. It’s my daily fight against those guys, but at the end, if they don’t care, it’s their problem, and their health.

Have had to become an “expert” on COVID as our group leads the charge for our company. Many questions from leadership and employees and trying to ease concerns as they arise.

Focus on industrial and office cleanliness has raised awareness of the need for compliance, safety rules and regulations, and having a good safety culture in the workplace.

More people are looking to us to help with solutions and provide guidance.

It’s created more demand for our services. The public health role has been diminished and less trustworthy due to the amount of wrong information put out by CDC and USPHS.

COVID has been added to the safety work task.

In healthcare, there is a higher level of involvement related to employee safety since the pandemic.

In California the counties were/are requiring designated “COVID Safety Monitors” on all construction projects.

The pandemic plans and safety were foremost in people’s minds during the pandemic.

H&S workload increased as a result of COVID-19 safety precautions and regulations.

It has created a larger need for EHS professionals and raised the awareness and importance of their areas of expertise.

Every company needs a safety and health professional onboard during COVID.

Our COVID-19 protocols and responsibilities became a responsibility of the safety and facilities teams. Safety professionals were able to demonstrate their versatility in supporting the business.

Health of all workers and development of protocols.

Safety professionals have been asked to develop and implement plans for dealing with COVID and have also had to navigate changes in the workplace such as remote work.

It has added more responsibility on the safety professional to ensure COVID protocols are being maintained.

It has raised the profiles for medical profession, teachers, law enforcement and frontline retail and food-processing plants. Not for safety professionals.

More awareness as to what industrial hygienist and epidemiologist do. Better understanding of PPE and importance of ventilation.

More interaction with top management to make sure there was a plan and to keep everyone safe.

More employers are realizing that safety planning and contingency planning, as well as the environmental aspects of the workplace, are critical. Many were caught unprepared and unaware when the pandemic began and had to scramble to become compliant, provide employee training and make physical changes to the work space.

While the government talks about science and how they are going by science, I look and there are no IH or safety professionals involved. The worst is that the science that we as safety professionals have relied on for so many years to protect our workers is flat-out ignored for what I consider unqualified people making decisions. What I have seen is that the general public is ignoring our profession because of it. I have seen this personally when I was explaining N95 masks to a friend and he told me that he didn't believe me and that he was going to call his doctor’s office. The worse part was that he told me the doctor’s office told him exactly the opposite of what we have trained our employees on for years.

Management is more aware of why they need us and how they benefit from our guidance.

Everyone is more cautious on how they handle staff and customers.

Safety professionals have been involved in a lot of the plans for workers and the pandemic.

New policies, new procedures, new recommendations, job restructuring.

Pandemic plan for plant worked for one year, now variants in the public and we had an outbreak in the plant (18 confirmed).

Quick evaluation and changes required along with working with Public Health and Ministry of Labour.

Upper management created a pandemic team; little experience required.

Management has to have someone to guide them in formulating policy.

It has raised the fact that not many safety and health professionals have a solid background in the public health aspect of the job. Clearly there is a lack of training in epidemiology and biostatistics.

Although it has raised the profile of the safety and health/EHS profession, COVID-19 enforcement and company policy implementations (since the beginning of COVID-19) should start at the top with upper/corporate and senior HR management. EHS personnel can certainly assist HR/upper management by presenting themselves as a contact (to communicate with HR) for employees who with have been exposed, who must self-quarantine, exposure contact tracing, COVID -19 case recordkeeping, implementation of additional hygienic/sanitation practices, purchase masks for employees, sanitizers, provide PPE, etc. However, upper management and/or HR should really take the lead with staying on top of the ever-changing regulations and providing EHS personnel with guidance. Ultimately, this is an integrated effort but if HR and senior management do not lead by example, EHS personnel will have a hard time enforcing guidelines such as wearing masks in the appropriate areas and social distancing.

No, just another task to add on.

The EHS function has been more visible due to COVID.  More staff appreciate and recognize the need for the EHS staff.

Everybody is turning to health and safety professionals as COVID precautions and requirements increase and change regularly.

Executives now see more value in safety professionals.

People having an idea about what is health and safety.

For me, anything and everything COVID-related fell my way. I was busier over the last year than I have ever been. So busy that I was getting really burned out.

More informed people need to be on staff.

Keeping PPE in stock and working with customers to make sure that all of our employees are aware of each individual customer’s COVID requirements.

The EHS field can be one turmoil in specific industries, meaning it depends on the outside demands for meeting safety requirements and I believe this field is at the top of the list for demand due to the recent pandemic and the change in our presidential regime.

Safety professionals have shouldered the response to the COVID pandemic in addition to their regular full-time duties.

COVID-19 has broadened the nuances of OSH.

The company top management is looking to us for guidance on how to handle COVID. They see us as the subject matter experts.

I’m leading COVID-19 protocols and contact tracing.

It has brought home the importance of WHS professionals in an organization.

It has effectively put safety in the #1 in all departments. This has add a lot of work to HSE.

One of the Top 5 health risks.

They have done more than they used to; still could improve – they only do what they have to when big bosses come down and check on them then go back to normal.

Se.  Necesitan. amplios.  Conocimientos.  Desde. Pandemias , accidentes. Laborales. Y.  No.   Menos.  Importante.  Cambio. Climático...

There has been a huge uptick in workers’ compensation claims, FMLA, Family First Corona Paid Leave, and other associated issues from the lockdown and PPE requirements. Issues with stress, political divisiveness from the public is also becoming an issue since I work for a municipality. It’s always a huge balance as to protecting our employees and being a public servant.

Taking over job duties thus taking away from other duties.

COVID has increased the awareness of the workers’ health which must receive more attention among the many duties and responsibilities that businesses face each day.

EH&S personnel have answered the call for guidance and communications between management and workers and also increased the awareness of programs required by OSHA and other federal agencies.

COVID prevention and safety is paramount in the workplace.

To some degree and for the most part, the pressure is on the health and safety-related positions. However, the frontline leaders and management are deemed more competent to dictate and drive the COVID protocols, whether right or wrong.

We are EHS consultants and we have been getting more calls from our clients.

Since there have been a lot of closures or working virtually, safety isn’t as onsite as it usually is. I am currently working virtually, as are most of my co-workers.   We are not able to address a number of issues because we are not on site; however, many employees in our organization are also working virtually.

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