Scope and Function
Scope of a Safety Professional
To perform their professional functions, safety professionals must have education, training and experience in a common body of knowledge. Safety professionals need to have a fundamental knowledge of physics, chemistry, biology, physiology, statistics, mathematics, computer science, engineering mechanics, industrial processes, business, communication and psychology. Professional safety studies include industrial hygiene and toxicology, design of engineering hazard controls, fire protection, ergonomics, system and process safety, safety and health program management, accident investigation and analysis, product safety, construction safety, education and training methods, measurement of safety performance, human behavior, environmental safety and health, and safety, health and environmental laws, regulations and standards. Many safety professionals have backgrounds or advanced study in other disciplines, such as management and business administration, engineering, education, physical and social sciences and other fields. Others have advanced study in safety. This extends their expertise beyond the basics of the safety profession.
Functions of a Safety Professional
- The major areas relating to the protection of people, property and the environment are:
- Anticipate, identify and evaluate hazardous conditions and practices.
- Develop hazard control designs, methods, procedures and programs.
- Implement, administer and advise others on hazard control programs.
- Measure, audit and evaluate the effectiveness of hazard control programs.
Because safety is an element in all human endeavors, safety professionals perform their functions in a variety of contexts in both public and private sectors, often employing specialized knowledge and skills. Typical settings are manufacturing, insurance, risk management, government, education, consulting, construction, healthcare, engineering and design, waste management, petroleum, facilities management, retail, transportation and utilities. Within these contexts, safety professionals must adapt their functions to fit the mission, operations and climate of their employer.
Not only must safety professionals acquire the knowledge and skills to perform their functions effectively in their employment context, through continuing education and training they stay current with new technologies, changes in laws and regulations, and changes in the workforce, workplace and world business, political and social climate.
As part of their positions, safety professionals must plan for and manage resources and funds related to their functions. They may be responsible for supervising a diverse staff of professionals.
By acquiring the knowledge and skills of the profession, developing the mind set and wisdom to act responsibly in the employment context, and keeping up with changes that affect the safety profession, the safety professional is able to perform required safety professional functions with confidence, competence and respected authority.
© Copyright 1996 American Society of Safety Engineers. All rights reserved