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Safety and Health CEOs Discuss Role of Profession in Pandemic Recovery

May 13, 2020

PARK RIDGE, IL — The CEOs of the nation’s three leading safety organizations teamed up for an insightful discussion about how the occupational safety and health profession is evolving and expanding its presence as industries recover from COVID-19. The free webinar, “COVID-19: A Safety and Health CEO Perspective,” features Jennifer McNelly of the American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP), Lorraine Martin of the National Safety Council (NSC) and Larry Sloan of the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA).

The leaders talked about collaboration between the three organizations and how their partnership is elevating the profession during this unprecedented time. “The world has shifted, and as safety organizations it’s critical that we lead forward,” McNelly said. “Recovery needs a good framework, a good architecture, but the actions required are unique to each company and community, which increases the need for collaboration.”

The panel stressed the benefits of the first nationwide task force geared to help protect employees working through the public health crisis as well as those who are resuming work now and in a post-pandemic environment. Led by NSC, the Safe Actions For Employee Returns (SAFER) initiative is a multifaceted plan to guide all employers through the process of bringing back their workers at minimal risk. In addition to NSC, ASSP and AIHA, the task force includes other safety organizations, Fortune 500 companies and public health experts.

“It’s rewarding to see our nation and its industry players and nonprofits come together,” Martin said. “I think it’s built into our DNA to say collaboration is what we’re all about.”

The CEOs highlighted how occupational safety and health professionals are helping their companies adapt traditional work environments to best protect workers. The transition is an opportunity for the profession to demonstrate the return on organizational investment in worker safety and health. The group also underscored the need for company executives to recognize worker safety and health as an integral part of long-term sustainability.

“This horrific pandemic has provided a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us to step up as a profession and exert our influence in different ways,” Sloan said. “We need a seat at the table with business leaders. Our profession lends a credibility to helping workers safely return to their jobs in a different way that’s become our new normal.”

Other key topics addressed by the leadership trio include the need for national public health to be better funded and resourced since its depletion after 9/11; the need for the safety and health community to communicate to policymakers the advantages of regulating beyond compliance; and the need for safety and health professionals to only take credible information from the vast amount of guidance available today.

In addition to the new CEO webinar, comprehensive safety and health guidance and resources focused on the nation’s COVID-19 recovery are regularly updated and available from the websites of ASSP, NSC and AIHA.

About ASSP – Working together for a safer, stronger future
For more than 100 years, the American Society of Safety Professionals has been at the forefront of helping occupational safety and health professionals protect people and property. The nonprofit society is based in the Chicago suburb of Park Ridge. Its global membership of nearly 40,000 professionals covers all industries, developing safety and health management plans that prevent injuries, illnesses and deaths. ASSP advances its members and the safety profession through education, advocacy, standards and a professional community. Its flagship publication, Professional Safety, is a longtime leader in the field. Visit www.assp.org and follow us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Media contact: Blaine Krage, 847.768.3416, bkrage@assp.org

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