It is no surprise that an area receiving a particular amount of focus was the current economy and how it has reflected upon EHS programs and budgets. When respondents were asked about this topic, as Walter writes, “EHS professionals reported lower morale among employees, reduced or eliminated incentive programs, reduced travel opportunities, reduced training, layoffs, facility closures and fewer new equipment purchases. One respondent even claimed he had just lost his job and was preparing to file for unemployment.” EHS budget fluctuations were also reported with 10 percent of respondents indicating their budget was decreased more than 10 percent in 2009, 13 percent indicated a decrease of 1 to 10 percent, 47 percent reported their budget had remained the same, 11 percent reported an increase of 1 to 10 percent and a happy 4 percent reported a budget increase of more that 10 percent in 2009. Although some felt cuts to budgets to be threatening to their safety, several respondents indicated that their organizations had utilized layoffs as a means of eliminating inexperienced employees who commonly took risks and shortcuts which as a result improved their safety performance.
In one area of the survey, respondents were asked to rate President Obama’s approach so far to occupational health and safety. The responses to this particular question yielded a variety of opinions on the subject. With 16 percent rating Obama’s performance as good, 26 percent felt it was average, 13 percent rated it as fair, 15 percent felt is performance was poor and 27 percent indicated it was just too soon to tell. Another question dealt with OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the main federal agency charged with the enforcement of safety and health legislation in the US), asking what occupational safety and health challenge would you most like to see OSHA address during the Obama administration? This question also yielded a mixed bag of opinions with respondents expressing that OSHA focus on a range of issues such as ergonomics, workplace aggression, updating antiquated standards, the nomination of an OSHA administrator and spending more energy investigating the circumstances of violations before issuing out fines. Overall the 2009 National Safety Survey is a valuable tool for gaining insight into the current EHS landscape from the perspective of those who work directly within it. Surveys such as this one are important as they help to further understand the current trends and help to project where the industry is headed.