Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Death of the Safety Professional

Happy New Year!

This is whats happening to professionals in business and industry today: You get technicians to do the work that use to be done by craftsmen & professionals. I just had a pair of Kenneth Cole shoes resoled: $68. Although they were $200+ shoes, I got them on clearance for $55. Cheaper to pay a sales clerk than a shoemaker. It use to be that mechanics rebuilt starters, alternators, and engines. Today it is cheaper to replace with a remanufactured part. Yes, it is cheaper to buy a remanufactured engine that is (re)built on an assembly line than to have a mechanic do it.

We are getting away from HR people, accountants, lawyers, and hiring (glorified) "secretaries" with titles as HR admin, admin assistant, payroll technician, etc. and giving them access to ADP, Legalzoom,,, etc.

You can't really blame business owners, every time they get a couple dollars in their pocket, there are a bunch of hands reaching in. Government is the biggest pick pocket of all.

There is 1 place where you still see professionals:  heavily regulated industries (airline, nuclear, medical, refineries, petroleum, etc.). With the high unemployment, companies that hire professionals want to pay less and less. They are even replacing their higher paid professionals with (sometimes better qualified) unemployed professionals willing to work for much less. Companies that are hiring "technicians" many times get a better qualified professional at a technician price.

I predicted this economy over 10 years ago. What we are in is a "correction." The economy is seeking equilibrium. The pendulum wants to be in the middle, but will overshoot equilibrium and then stop and swing back the other way toward the middle (equilibrium). The bigger that something that knocks the system out of equilibrium, the bigger the correction, and the bigger the distance that it over shoots equilibrium.

I noted that in Europe gas was about $5 per gallon, unemployment was  about 10%, and the countries were to heavy in debt. We were artificially keeping prices down and our employment up. Add to that a tech bubble that fueled a housing bubble (by making many business owners, and investors  richer), we had money to spend. We bought everything and hired everyone.

Japan had a similar problem, they based their economy on the premise that the market was infinitely expanding. The market has a limitation: the Earth. As a result, Japan saw things they never had before: unemployment, obesity, the homeless, and nursing homes to name a few results.

So who is making money? Lawyers, sales professionals who eat what they kill (commission only), and gray-area professionals who bring in large amounts of revenue and you want them to be happy and quiet (bankers, stock brokers, derivatives traders, futures traders, etc.), government contractors (you need to know someone to get a contract and make campaign donations),  and corporations (too big to fail).

The first expenses that a company cuts are advertising (marketing) and safety. So what is a safety professional to do? You need to show a hard dollar amount that you, as a safety professional, are making for your company. So how do you make money? Remember Ben Franklin, "A penny saved is a penny earned?" Saving money.

The one area that would get the most attention is Workers' Compensation Insurance. Even beyond reducing accidents (and the costs associated with them) is if you can show that you are reducing the cost of the Work Comp Premium.

Very few safety professionals have the luxury of only doing safety anymore. We need to be IT (Information Technology) specialists, web developers, social media gurus, and now insurance brokers. This is one of the themes that runs through my blog.

I am a licensed insurance broker myself: Life, Health, Property, Casualty, and Surplus Insurance in 15 states. Now my credentials are overkill, and quite expensive. I have these licenses for other services I work on with my clients.

A P&C (Property and Casualty) Insurance License is easily attainable by a safety professional in most states. It costs much less than getting a CSP in time and money. It also shows that you as a safety professional not only knows safety, but understand Work Comp and the impact that you have on it. It may also allow you to be part or the insurance policy renewal process more than you would be as a safety professional.

This will be the first of upcoming posts that will focus on Work Comp insurance. What made me focus on this topic? Two things; first a colleague of mine had interviewed for a job in the transportation industry. Not only was I a reference for her, but I pointed out some nuances of that industry to help her prep for the job, which she was offered.

Second, one of my clients has just completed a policy renewal, which I was heavily involved with. Our initial figures indicate that work comp claims' costs have been reduced 25%-33%. This was an unintentional consequence. I will have a post about that titled: "Unintended Consequences."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post. I feel like staffing in PA has suffered in these recent months because of political actions, it shouldn't be dependent on laws just on company policies.