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An Honor & Privilege

Jim Smith, M.S., CSP, 2017-18 ASSP President
May 21, 2018

Jim Smith

It has been an honor and privilege to serve as Society president this past year. I am humbled by this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make a difference in advancing our profession and this organization. Throughout my 15 years of service on the Board of Directors, I have been fortunate to meet and work alongside many great volunteer leaders and dedicated members, all focused on improving the OSH profession and each of us as safety professionals.

As this is my last message to you, I’d like to take a look back at this year, then look ahead to the future of our profession.

A Year in Review

We focused on four strategic pillars: member communities, education, standards of practice and advocacy. Here are just a few highlights of what we’ve accomplished:

  • We continue to lead the evolution of voluntary OSH standards of practice. For the first time in history, we have an international safety management system standard thanks to an effort spearheaded by International Organization for Standardization with our leadership. We also formed a committee to develop leading metrics that connect our OSH programs to business objectives.
  • We championed the approval of the Occupational Health and Safety Professional Capability Framework, which begins to establish an occupational barrier for our profession, accelerates our profession’s maturation, enhances our profile within our organizations and ultimately will improve injury prevention outcomes.
  • We unveiled LearnEx courses, our latest innovation in online learning. This avenue supports our long-standing position as the preferred source for continuing education among OSH professionals.
  • We approved the Council on Academic Affairs and Research, a further signal of our commitment to advancing the OSH profession. This group will focus on student outreach and engagement on all levels, develop educational standards and improve the supply of qualified OSH academicians to instruct our future professionals. The council will also elevate our research efforts and help us develop evidence-based practices and tools.
  • We continued to invest in helping the Center for Safety and Health Sustainability connect human capital metrics to organizational performance. This work is a major step toward ensuring that OSH programs are part of business discussions, corporate decision-making and investment choices.

Looking to the Future

Emerging risks, the 24-hour news cycle, stakeholder expectations, and demands related to human capital and corporate responsibility constantly change the outlook of our profession’s future. Advances in technology will continue to introduce new risks, and the gig economy will require a different approach in safety. The growing diversity of the workforce, aging workers and increasing skill gaps place additional demands on our profession.

In the coming years, I expect to see more degreed professionals skilled at using data analytics and predictability models to drive decision-making. Our roles will broaden to encompass total worker health, and we will be asked to enhance our preinjury prevention programs to better control skyrocketing healthcare costs. We will continue to promote a risk-based approach to concentrate limited resources on improving human and organizational performance and injury reduction outcomes. Training will continue to evolve as technology advances and as we gain a better understanding of adult learning concepts and incorporate methods that involve concepts such as mindfulness.

Only time will tell if my view of our profession’s future will become reality. Without question, we will need to continue to grow and expand our skills to stay relevant. That’s where ASSP comes into play as the profession’s leading source of education and training that you can immediately put into practice. And, through our vibrant community, you can connect globally with peers across all industries, genders, generations and ethnicities.

Thank you for entrusting me to lead this organization. I also would like to thank my employer, Arthur J. Gallagher and Co. and its leadership team, for supporting me this year. Throughout my interactions with members across the globe, one thing is clear: We all share a deep passion for our profession and our Society. Together, we are helping this organization and our profession prosper. I wish each of you future success.

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