Senior Vice President Candidate
Thomas F. Cecich, CSP, CIH
Thomas F. Cecich, CSP, CIH, is a 40-year member of ASSE and a past president of the North Carolina Chapter. He has been elected twice as vice president, Council on Professional Affairs, and has served on the Society’s Government Affairs (chair), Strategic Planning, Professional Development Conference Planning, Educational Standards and Public Relations committees. He was a trustee of the ASSE Foundation from 1991 to 1996 and 2004 to 2009, twice serving as vice chair. He is a two-time recipient of both the Charles V. Culbertson Outstanding Volunteer Service Award and the President’s Award.
Tom is president of TFC & Associates, an SH&E management consulting firm, and a member of Mercer/ORC’s safety and health consulting practice in Washington, DC. Previously, he was vice president of EHS for GlaxoSmithKline with various responsibilities including North American operations, global manufacturing, and governmental advocacy and strategy. He previously held safety management positions at IBM and Allied Chemical Corp.
Tom holds a B.S. and an M.S. in Industrial Engineering. He is a clinical assistant professor of environmental health sciences at the Tulane University School of Public Health, and teaches in the occupational health and safety master’s program.
Tom served on the Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP) from 1993 to 1998 and was BCSP president in 1997. He also served for 3 years as board chair for the Manufacturers and Chemical Industry Council of North Carolina, a state affiliate of the American Chemistry Council.
In 2007, he was appointed to the North Carolina Environmental Management Commission
by then-governor Mike Easley.
As safety professionals, it is our job to save lives and to prevent injuries and illnesses. As members of ASSE, we have the power to change how safety is viewed and practiced in our organizations, in our country and across the globe.
I have been an active ASSE member for 40 years. I owe much to many mentors that invested their time and talent in me as a young aspiring safety professional. By running for SVP I would like the opportunity to pay back their investment as well as to help prepare the next generation of professionals for the challenges that they will surely face. I am passionate about this profession and if given the opportunity by your vote I pledge to devote the time, energy, and commitment to lead our profession to new heights.
ASSE is the premier organization committed to the safety profession. We must not only have leaders with passion but those that also possess leadership and vision. Throughout my career in both work and volunteer experience, I have consistently been appointed or elected to leadership roles. I have been successful because I will listen to new ideas and then lead people to work together to accomplish our collective goals. I have applied these qualities in my role as VP Professional Affairs and I have seen that through the efforts of many volunteers and ASSE staff that the Council on Professional Affairs (COPA) has started to help transform the way safety is viewed and practiced.
The Senior Vice President will become the ASSE president and serve as the leader and spokesperson of the profession. It is vital that those who aspire to the office of ASSE president have the capabilities to represent the Society and our profession because they directly reflect to the public who we are and what we stand for.
Although leadership is a critical skill for the SVP position, it is not sufficient without a vision that serves as a roadmap for what ASSE and our profession can achieve. Listed below is the vision that I have for ASSE:
Value of ASSE membership – Members of an organization need to connect. The ability to network with other safety professionals is consistently identified as a leading benefit of membership. To many the traditional chapter meeting is the primary means of connection. However we must continue to identify and develop multiple pathways to allow members to form a sense of community. We must utilize technologies such as social networking and virtual communication in addition to user communities such as practice specialties and common interest groups to ensure every member has a means to network. Ensuring that every member has an opportunity for engagement makes ASSE a stronger Society and each of us better safety professionals.
Value of the safety profession – Most safety professionals get great satisfaction from our work. Yet we experience frustration and feel under-appreciated when asked to justify our value to our organizations. It is therefore up to us, individually and collectively through ASSE, to articulate to stakeholders the benefit of investing in safety professionals and safety systems. For four years the Council of Professional Affairs (COPA) has focused on implementing new strategies to promote the value of both. The Center for Safety and Health Sustainability, an ASSE initiated partnership with AIHA, IOSH (UK) and CSSE (Canada), promotes safety as an important component of the sustainability movement. COPA has also identified the need for safety professionals to move beyond a compliance focus and become more proficient in risk assessment and control strategies. To thrive in the future safety professionals must become key resources in the identification, assessment and management of a variety of organizational risks. ASSE must help drive these changes for both our members and customers.
Equipping our members for the evolving workplace – By promoting the overall value of safety to organizations, each safety professional also becomes more valuable as described by the metaphor - “a rising tide raises all ships”. However, the saying is only true provided we are not anchored to the bottom of the harbor. As professionals we must strive to continually improve and reinvent ourselves. The broad practice of safety is evolving rapidly and an unwillingness or inability to change will surely find people left behind. ASSE must challenge, educate and help develop our members to be prepared for the opportunities in the future workplace.
Influencing the world around us – We work in an increasingly regulated world. Well-meaning but sometimes not well-informed governmental officials often determine how we practice safety. Good laws and regulations can enhance workplace safety but ineffective regulations can create distractions or take away resources from areas of greater risk. No organization is better positioned to serve as an honest broker in the public policy arena. Through a member driven approach, ASSE has significantly expanded our external influence to be the voice of knowledge and reason with governments. We must continue to aggressively share our knowledge of workplace risks and to influence the creation of effective laws and regulations based on sound science, engineering and economic principles.
Preparing the next generation of professionals - In 2011 NIOSH projected that over the next five years there will be a shortage of at least 12,000 safety professionals. Current safety degree programs do not generate sufficient graduates to meet the projected demand. ASSE must address the challenge of increasing the number of new safety graduates as well as defining the knowledge and skills that non-safety degreed professionals require to become competent safety professionals. ASSE must lead the discussion to define competency levels for safety professionals. If we don’t, the practice of safety will be defined by the lowest common denominator of qualifications. There is no more important issue as we continue to build our profession.
Our Society’s future is filled with opportunities that are within our grasp. I am excited about our profession and our possibilities. I would like to lead us into the future and would ask for your vote, commitment and participation in this worthy and exciting journey.