The Ecoforum

Readers' Feedback about 'Sustainable Careers'

Dear Mr. MacLean,

I am an environmental professional (consultant) working out of Chesire, CT. I just finished reading your article, "Sustainable Careers" (available at no charge under Archives, April 2003) in the April issueof Environmental Protection. I have recently gone through two lay-offs in the last year. For the last four years I've worked in upstate New York.

I am writing you now to inquire about how one can carve out a more steadycareer. I like what I do but there is no job security. Maybe it's like this with other careers, but at this point I find myself wishing I could just focus on doing my job instead of where the next billable hour is coming from.

I enjoyed your article, although I didn't get to read the first part of it (The first part of this multipart series by Richard MacLean is entitled "Manager's Notebook: Sustainable Careers " and is available at under Archives, January - February 2003). If you have any advice or can point me to some good reading I'm all ears!

Name Withheld by Request

Dear Mr. Maclean,
I was most pleased to find your article "Sustainable Careers" that appeared in the April issue. Unfortunately this is my first issue and I have missed part 1!

I am the hazmat / safety and health person at our small plant. I am also the machinist and fork lift director. I not only fill out the paper work but also manage all our policies, compliance issues and engineering in the environmental fields. I also have 30 years as a tool and die maker. Like your article states, having safety, health and hazmat in the job title needs changing. The title is sometimes misleading to all of my duties.

I am constantly on the look out for new ways to bring this company into the 21st Century. I also do the training of all new hires and refresher classes(as per OSHA). I have been working to get all our training done in interactive digital format instead of the ancient videos we have so many of.

As a bonus I am a member of the American Society of Safety Engineers. I am currently working on getting back to College to further my education in Safety Engineering. Our company is willing to help with the expences once enrolled. At 52 (this May 3) I feel blessed indeed.

I thank you for your article as many of the issues you address are foremost in my own thinking. I cannot retire in the normal sense of the word but I have effectively laid out a course that should allow me to work more independantly within the area I live in as I grow older.

I look forward to hearing more from you,

Name Withheld by Request

Dear Mr. MacLean,
After reading Part 2 of your series on "Sustainable Careers," the phrase that struck me as best summarizing the future of EHS careers was " . . . the best jobs will be those associated with the migration of EHS issues into core business activities." I have appreciated your first two articles and look forward to Part 3.

Tom Frost
Sr. Environmental Engineer
Rockwell Automation

Dear Mr. MacLean,
Just finished reading your article "Sustainable Careers" in the April issue. I would be very interested in reading a proposed Part 3 of your series.

I have a B.S. in microbiology. The first 5 years of my career was spent as an government environmental regulator, so I was able to experience first-hand the regulation development phase of many issues. (Pretreatment, UST, stormwater). For the past 10 years I have been in the EHS field with a private corporation with the last three years focused primarily on Environmental projects. Being very tuned in the the issues you have discussed in your articles, I am now working on my Master's in Environmental Science and Policy in order to provide myself with a broader set of skills focused more on a holistic, collaborative, sustainable approach to environmental issues.

Can't wait to hear more in your article about positioning for future changes.

Name Withheld by Request

Dear Mr. MacLean,
I would like to congratulate you on this article. It says much of what I had wondered about already. The EH& S profession has been marginalized, -- especially in large companies! I can hardly wait for the 3rd article.

Name Withheld by Request

Injecting Another Viewpoint concerning Disposal of Sharps

The article "Sharp Solutions for a Sticky Problem," which was written by Ben Hoffman, MD, (availabe under Archives, April 2003) was overly broad and condemning of those who must give themselves or others home injections. EPOnline e-newsletter's recap of the article was even worse. "Most needles are not disposed correctly", the article goes on to say there are no regulations. Who defines "correctly"? Have you ever checked to see how many sharps are in a container in a public restroom? My random inspection indicates there have only been a few sharps in any container I have ever checked in a public restroom. You do not need to open the container to check just look at the translucent side or shake it and listen to the sound. The article spends page space discussing active people who give themselves injections and implies the used needle is thrown in the trash as a public health risk.

I have been an insulin dependant diabetic for over 35 years, in that time I have never disposed of a needle in a public place, even in a sharps container due to my concern for potential misuse. I know several diabetics, we all carry syringes with us, we have a variety of pouches, or containers to carry not only the syringe but also the medication. Why throw away an empty syringe that weighs a few grams when you already have the means to transport it on your person and have to carry other syringes and medication anyway. Mr. Hoffman's article makes us sound lazy, irresponsible and unconcerned about our neighbors and the environment. He is correct; syringes eventually are discarded but many people (but not all) break the metal end from the syringe to avoid future use by others.

There was a strong sales pitch in his article for Dr Hoffman's employer who for a fee will take these sharps off my hands, which may be a good thing to do. Unfortunately there was no explanation how these plastic or cardboard containers sent through the US mail to his company will not end up being broken and cause accidental sticks to the postal workers. Finally, those active people who recklessly discard a syringe in a public place are unlikely to carry it back home and place it in a WMI box and pay for disposal, as he describes it, "correctly."

Richard H. Uber
Mgr. Solid and Hazardous Waste
Cooper Industries Inc.

This article originally appeared in the 06/01/2003 issue of Environmental Protection.

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