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Looking Back, Looking Ahead

Jim Smith, M.S., CSP, 2017-18 ASSE President
Jan 01, 2018

Jim SmithAs this new year unfolds, many of us are reflecting on accomplishments from last year and envisioning even greater achievements in the coming year. Over the last few weeks, many of us have spent time talking with family, friends and colleagues about where we have been and where we hope to go. 

It has been my distinct honor and privilege to serve as ASSE President the past 7 months. Over that time, I have met and spoken with many volunteer leaders and members. The commitment I have heard and seen is not about receiving personal recognition or public accolades, rather it reflects a genuine dedication to our profession and a true passion to make a difference in the world. I sincerely thank each of you for being part of this great Society, I applaud you for championing our incredible profession, and I deeply appreciate your willingness to challenge the status quo as you seek innovative ways to protect workers each day. I am truly grateful to have met so many of you and learned from your experience.

Looking Back

I would like to review several milestones from 2017. In September, we joined with more than 40 organizations in signing the Singapore Accord. This consensus-based document defines the roles, skills, knowledge and qualifications recommended for university-trained OSH professionals and vocationally trained OSH practitioners. Signing the accord signals a collective commitment to elevate our profession globally and help business leaders understand the value we provide with respect to identifying risks, eliminating hazards and preventing worker injuries.

Through the Center for Safety and Health Sustainability, ASSE and the ASSE Foundation supported research to examine human capital as a material corporate investment metric. The final report published in October 2017, “Corporate Disclosure for Human Capital Metrics,” indicates that many companies collect human capital metrics, but few report them publicly. By bringing together key stakeholders to discuss these issues, ASSE is fostering collaboration that will ultimately lead to fewer workplace injuries, illnesses and deaths.

In November, we hosted a workshop to discuss a national OSH research agenda and explore ways to better disseminate research information. We discussed topics that are vital to the advancement of OSH, identified issues that are critical to improving the OSH profession and shared ideas for addressing these needs. We know that evidence-based data are needed to fill knowledge gaps, support interventions and develop improved standards of practice.  

In December, ASSE hosted a working group to explore how it can create a pipeline for developing Hispanic OSH professionals, improve professional development opportunities for these members and address issues related to increased risks faced by Hispanic worker. ASSE has partnered with NIOSH in this area in recent years, and we are committed to identifying effective measures to better protect these workers. 

Looking Ahead

The activities of 2017 set an exciting stage for 2018 and beyond. The collaborative workshop model has helped ASSE showcase OSH professionals as effective collaborators who build relationships and produce tangible results that affect business performance metrics. Based on these successes, we will continue to seek new partners interested in preventing injuries and illnesses, promoting dialogue around the prevention of work-related risks and, ultimately, advancing the OSH profession.

We are also working on a proposal to create the Council on Academic Affairs and Research. Through this group, we will consolidate academic-related activities such as student engagement and educational standards, and pursue research-to-practice initiatives. In addition, ASSE will expand the leadership training it offers to its volunteers. Our goal is to create an evergreen pipeline of committed members who will fill various roles and propel the Society forward.

All of this is building to the launch of our new brand at Safety 2018 in June. As our members confirmed last August, ASSE will become the American Society of Safety Professionals to better reflect the diverse disciplines our members represent. Our profession is growing its impact and we are extending our influence. These are definitely exciting times to be an OSH professional.

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