Senior Vice President Candidate
Thomas F. Cecich, CSP, CIH
THOMAS F. CECICH, CSP, CIH, has twice been elected to the ASSE Board of Directors and served as vice president of Professional Affairs. He has served on the Society’s Governmental Affairs (chair), Strategic Planning, PDC, Educational Standards and Public Relations committees. He was a trustee of the ASSE Foundation from 1991-1996 and 2004-2009. He is a two-time recipient of both the Society’s Culbertson Award and the President’s Award. He is a past-president of the North Carolina Chapter and was the chapter Safety Professional of the Year in 2013.
Tom is President of TFC & Associates, a safety and health management consulting firm. Previously he was Vice President EHS for pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline with various safety and environmental responsibilities including North American operations, global manufacturing, and governmental advocacy and strategy. He previously held safety management positions at the IBM and Allied Chemical Corporations.
Tom holds a B.S. and 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 safety and health master’s program.
Tom is the chairman of the Center for Safety and Health Sustainability, a global non-profit that represents 90,000 safety professionals worldwide. He served on the Board of Certified Safety Professionals from 1993-1998 and was the president of BCSP in 1997.
Tom is recognized by Industrial Safety and Hygiene News (ISHN) as one of the safety Power 101 - the 101 individuals who most influence the field of occupational safety and health.
As Safety Professionals, we work to save lives and 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 communities and across the globe. 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.
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. I have demonstrated that I have the necessary leadership skills in my past positions as a corporate vice president of safety, health and environment, President of the Board of Certified Safety Professionals, in state commissions appointed by three governors, chairman of several trade and industry associations and at the chapter and society level in ASSE.
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 my vision 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 ASSE membership. I have been an active chapter member for 40 years and was recognized in 2013 as the NC Chapter Safety Professional of the Year. I fully understand the relationships and bonds that chapters create. However we must continue to identify and develop multiple pathways that allow members to form a sense of community. We must utilize technologies such as social networking and virtual communication to connect with 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. For many years the safety field has been driven by achieving compliance with regulations and standards. While compliance will always be a part of what safety professionals must manage it is important that we understand that business leaders view compliance as a necessary obligation that often does not contribute to the organization’s competitive advantage. As safety professional we must communicate to our organizations that safety is a function that makes a significant contribution to the organizational goals – whether they be profitability, mission success or the delivery of governmental services.
As Vice President of the Council of Professional Affairs I led the ASSE’s initiatives that are demonstrating the value of safety to organizational leaders. The Center for Safety and Health Sustainability was conceived by ASSE and now has global partnering organizations that represent 100,000 safety professionals and is reaching senior management with the message that worker safety and health must be a key element of a sustainable organization. Another initiative, the ASSE Risk Assessment Institute is designed to promote the importance of identifying, assessing and mitigating safety and health risks at the highest levels of an organization. Both of these initiatives are examples of how ASSE needs to aggressively promote both the value of safety to organizations and importance of the professionals that deliver key safety services.
Equipping our members for the evolving workplace –The world around us is rapidly changing due to new technologies and processes such as globalization. Failure to recognize and embrace change will surely result in lost career opportunities. As professionals we must strive to continually improve and reinvent ourselves. The broad practice of safety is evolving rapidly and 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 needs to continuously expand 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 those outside the profession and we may not like the outcome.
Our Society’s future is filled with opportunities that are within our grasp. I am excited about our profession and our possibilities. I have received many rewards for choosing safety as a career and I am passionate to work for our profession to see that it gets the recognition it deserves. I would like to lead ASSE and its members into the future and would ask for your vote, commitment and participation in this worthy and exciting journey.