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James R. Thornton, CSP, CIH, FASSP

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Biography

James R. Thornton CSP, CIH, FASSP, FAIHA retired Director, EH&S at Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII). One of HII’s primary businesses is shipbuilding, and HII is the nation's leading designer, builder and refueler of nuclear and non-nuclear powered aircraft carriers, submarines, and surface vessels. With 37,000 employees and $7B in annual sales, HII is the nation’s largest OSHA Voluntary Protection Program STAR site. Jim held previous positions in safety and health at Research Triangle Institute in Research Triangle Park, N.C. and the Tennessee Valley Authority in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.

Thornton holds a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering from Auburn University, and an M.S. in Industrial Hygiene from Texas A&M University. He is a Board Certified Safety Professional (5442) and Industrial Hygienist (1207). He has taught safety and health courses at Thomas Nelson Community College and Old Dominion University in Virginia.

Thornton is currently Chairman of the Government Affairs Committee for ASSP. He is a Fellow of ASSP and AIHA. He served as Chairman of the OSHA Maritime Advisory Committee for Safety and Health (MACOSH) and is a recipient of the U.S. Department of Labor Distinguished Service Impact Award for his work with OSHA.

Thornton served as President of the American Industrial Hygiene Association and Chairman of the American Board of Industrial Hygiene. He was formerly President of the Virginia Self-Insurers Workers Compensation Association, and is Chairman of the Virginia Manufacturer’s Association’s Safety, Health, and Environmental Committee. He also is Chairman of the Virginia Peninsula Chapter for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA).

Platform Statement

I remain committed to our duty as safety and health professionals to ensure that every worker goes home safely to their family at the end of their work shift.

I have worked for many years in the shipbuilding and repair industry and am very pleased to have successfully implemented a number of very successful programs that have produced sustained reductions in injury and Illness rates. I continue to feel a duty and a responsibility to continue to give back to it. Although I have served ASSP and other S&H organizations in leadership positions, there remain many opportunities to make a positive difference in people’s lives. If I am fortunate to be elected, there are several initiatives that are consistent with the current Society Strategic Plan which will positively assist our members working each day to make life better for people:

Change

The Society will be challenged by external factors that present barriers to our continued success. Hard decisions will need to be made. I know the Society, I know the organization and the staff. I have been through these hard business times and I am prepared to deal with them swiftly and successfully.

Organizational Relationships

We must continue to nurture relationships with like – minded safety and health organizations. Yes, sometimes we are business competitors, but our ultimate mission remains the same. We can be stronger together.

Value of the Profession – The safety profession remains undervalued in many ways. We could increase the intrinsic value of the profession by advocating that regulatory standards include a requirement that qualified professionals be required to be engaged in the implementation of those programs. It is remarkable that OSHA standards contain precise specification provisions, but remain silent on the requirement that S&H programs and their elements be managed by qualified professionals. We must aggressively advocate for that.

Total Worker Health – As safety professionals, our historical approach has been to develop and implement programs that ensure workers entering the workspace leave it no worse that when they came. A more holistic approach would ensure that workers enter the workspace in the best possible condition to cope with the many hazards that they will encounter in their job duties. Note that this is not “wellness”, but a larger, more comprehensive approach.

Advocacy – Historically, we have reacted to proposed regulations that potentially affect us. However, we should identify and advocate for issues and programs that advance our agenda in D.C. It is imperative that organizations such as ours promote itself.

Emerging/Young Professionals – we have a number of new professionals entering the field. We must tailor our programs and approach to provide to them the greatest opportunity to become the most effective and embrace diversity of thinking.

In closing, if elected I pledge to promote the implementation of the initiatives described above and others that support our great members, the Strategic Plan of the Society, and our wonderful profession. Thank you for what you do daily to make people’s lives better and safer.

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