James R. Thornton, CSP, CIHVice President, Professional Affairs Candidate

James R. Thornton, CSP, CIH


James R. Thornton, CSP, CIH, is director of environmental, health and safety for Newport News Shipbuilding, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries. The company constructs, repairs and maintains nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and submarines for the U.S. Navy. Newport News has 21,000 employees and occupies 550 acres on Virginia’s eastern coast. Newport News is the largest OSHA VPP site, largest ISO 9001 site and the largest 14001 facility in the U.S.

Jim has progressive experience in the safety and health field since passage of the OSH Act, and has experience not only in shipbuilding, but also in many other diverse industries. He holds a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from Auburn University and a master’s degree in industrial hygiene from Texas A&M University. He is board-certified in both industrial hygiene and safety. Jim is a past president of AIHA, and is a recipient of AIHA’s Distinguished Service Award. He currently chairs ASSE’s Government Affairs Committee, and he is a past recipient of the Charles V. Culbertson Outstanding Volunteer Service Award.


If given the opportunity by your vote, I commit to you to promote and sustain this noble profession and its professionals. To accomplish this, we must constantly and consistently demonstrate our value to business leaders, regulators, unions, and ultimately, employees and their families who are the direct beneficiaries of our efforts.

The Council on Professional Affairs (COPA) serves as ASSE’s primary advocate for both the safety profession and professional in this regard. Serving on COPA has provided me the opportunity to help influence legislators and regulators to make decisions that will improve worker safety by recognizing the work that we safety professionals do. Yet we professionals not only have the responsibility to ensure that minimal regulations are followed, but also serve as the “moral compass” to ensure that risks to workers are appropriately identified and mitigated. Indeed, it is the advancement of risk assessment principles and applications that ultimately will serve to demonstrate our true value and ensure our sustainability. Accordingly, COPA must continue to promote the value that safety professionals provide to their respective organizations , advocate for effective regulations, and ensure our members are prepared to meet the future challenges that will be facing our profession.  

If you elect me, I pledge to you to use not only my education and experience, but my deep passion for worker safety and love of this great profession to advocate not only for the interests of ASSE and its members, but also for American workers and their families.