Half of U.S. adults 55 and older are retired, according to a 2021 Pew Research Center analysis — and retirement usually comes with some extra time.
How are retired safety professionals using that time for fun and fulfillment? We recently surveyed a group of our members about their retirement plans and activities. Most of their answers fell into three categories.
1. Teaching, Coaching and Mentoring
A clear priority for respondents is helping to educate the next generation. Of the members who completed the survey, 32% said they wanted to teach, 15% said they were interested in career coaching and 12% said they wanted to mentor emerging professionals.
Here’s what a few of those educators had to say:
- “I want to provide safety videos to the mining industry. Site hazard videos are a focus. I’m also interested in doing some MSHA training as demand increases.”
- “I plan to teach at the university level. I have not decided yet whether to consult part-time. I am also hoping to do some writing on various occupational safety topics.”
- “I see myself consulting with nonprofits and writing an ergonomic curriculum for K-12 students. I see a huge deficiency in ergonomic issues in the workplace. Training should start early.”
- “In retirement, I want to support local professional organizations, do some consulting and speak at conferences.”
2. Volunteering Their Time
In addition to providing safety education and mentorship, some members expressed interest in volunteering outside the profession. For example, one survey respondent said they want to help seniors through Meals on Wheels or their local assisted living center. Another said they want to help build houses though Habitat for Humanity.
But safety roots run deep. Three-quarters of members surveyed said they want to continue using their professional skills to make a difference in retirement.
- “I’m interested in working with FEMA or helping insurers after natural disasters.”
- “Retirement will give me a chance to get more involved in my local ASSP chapter.”
- “I am becoming more involved at hospitals near my residency.”
- “I may do some safety and process safety auditing.”
3. Picking Up New Hobbies
It turns out, there are many pastimes that benefit from a background in safety and health. From riding motorcycles to writing for pleasure, taking fitness classes, participating in local committees and more, survey responses show members are eager to step things up while kicking back in retirement.
These are just a few of the hobbies they plan to pursue:
- “Community support, such as food bank participation.”
- “Golf, reading and gardening.”
- “Trap shooting and seeing the U.S.”
- “Foster care.”
Advice For Emerging Professionals
As our members enjoy or plan for retirement, they have a close eye on the future. And specifically, they want incoming safety leaders to know they’re not alone. They shared some final words of wisdom for everyone who comes next.
- “Learn all you can — all the diverse topics under safety and health. One day you may have to manage them all.”
- “Continue to challenge yourself to excel at your profession. What we do as safety professionals prevents injury and saves lives. Actively participate in professional events and organizations. Work toward professional certification. Consider becoming active in your local ASSP chapter. Participate in professional development conferences. Benchmark with others! Engage in standards development. Enjoy the journey this career offers!”
- “The world and profession continue to evolve. Keep your skills up to date. Don’t get so hung up on being right or winning the argument that you win the battle but lose the war.”
- “Focus on heightened safety awareness for workers in place of compliance to regulations.”
- “Get your CSP designation. You will never regret it!”
- “Luck happens when preparation meets opportunity.”
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