C. Gary Lopez, M.S., CSP, works for Arthur J. Gallagher Risk Management Services. With over 38 years of experience, Gary spent much of his career with ICI [now Zeneca Corporation (Astra-Zeneca)]. He holds a B.S. in Business Administration from West Liberty University and an M.S. in Safety Management from West Virginia University.
An ASSP member since 1981, Gary has received the honor of ASSP Fellow. He has also received the Bresnahan Standards Medal and two Charles V. Culbertson Outstanding Volunteer Service Awards from ASSP, as well as the Distinguished Service to Safety Award from National Safety Council (NSC). He is chair of ASSP's Government Affairs Committee and the ANSI/ASSP Z16 Committee developing a consensus standard on leading and lagging indicators, as well as a past chair of ASSP's Standards Development Committee. Beyond ASSP, he has been a member of various committees, including chair of the Executive Committee and the Standards Committee for NSC, the Chemical Manufacturers Association Safety Programs Committee, which drafted the Responsible Care Code of Practice, and the committee that drafted the Emergency Response Exercise Guide for the Responsible Care Code of Practice. He chaired a task group on the ANSI Z117 Confined Space Entry Committee, was a member of the ISO 14000 U.S. Technical Advisory Group, ANSI's Safety and Health Standards Review Board and the Florida Workers' Compensation Institutes Safety and Health Advisory Committee. In addition, Gary served on the Safety and Insurance Committee of American Road andTransportation Builders Association.
Gary worked with OSHA, NSC and local safety councils to arrange a series of road shows on the new standard, the first performance standard by OSHA. In the late 1980s, he was also a member of the Keystone Group, a joint industry/OSHA/Bureau of Labor Statistics initiative to rewrite the BLS recordkeeping guidelines.
We are seeing a “professionalization” of the safety profession similar to what the medical profession has been through. Like the medical profession we will need appropriate support mechanisms to make safety a true profession. We will need to address research efforts to validate many of the assumptions that safety professionals use in work activities, academic coursework, in agreement, in schools and requirements for certification and licensing.
These efforts are currently in their infancy and must be refined as the path to professionalism. I see my role in ASSP as follows:
- Assist in promoting and conducting research that answers many of the assumptions that are made by safety professionals in enacting safety programs.
- Continue the work started with universities in formalizing curriculum for what constitutes becoming a “safety professional."
- Work with certification organizations to establish a clear certification path for safety professionals.
- Work with states identifying what “licensing” requirements will be to use the title “safety professional."
We will also have to develop standards of practice for our profession, with ASSP as the thought leader and promote continued standards development.
We must work on making what we do visible so that the young people entering the workforce see a clear path in the safety profession.
Finally, and perhaps the most critical, is doing a better job of determining what constitutes success. For too long we have depended on metrics that do not represent our true efforts, and worse, our true potential. By using these restrictive metrics we have mentally handcuffed ourselves from realizing our potential as safety professionals. We must widen what our measures of success, what we consider to be “our jobs” and what constitutes “loss” to our organization. In doing so, we will expand our roles, as well as our real and perceived value to our organizations.