From Safety 2016: The OSH Profession Comes Together


By Guest Blogger Chet Brandon

Great opening day at Safety 2016! One of my favorite parts of the annual conference is the opening session. Most of the attendees are present in one big hall with a dramatically arranged stage. The large number of people, and the grand stage with our leadership owning it, gives a dramatic effect that helps me feel proud to be an OSH professional.

That was the case again this year! With attendance continuing to climb, and steady progress being made in the success of our organization, it’s a heady time to be and OSH professional. In ASSE President Mike Belcher’s opening address he used the phrase “the Golden Age of Safety." He had introduced that phrase in Professional Safety, and he discussed it at the House of Delegates meeting on Sunday. His point is that there has never been a better time to be in safety. Our profession is enjoying unprecedented levels of respect and demand from employers and our members are benefiting from exciting and rewarding career opportunities.

Let's take a closer look at Mike’s assertion that American business organizations have come to understand and value what we do now more than ever. I agree. Mike also noted that our efforts to educate ourselves as true business partners and strategic leaders have been successful. Again I agree. having been in this profession for nearly 26 years, I know where we started from (compliance cops) and where we are today: respected strategic leaders with recognized skill in risk management, finance and strategic planning, along with technical knowledge. This has not happened by chance. We have correctly read the needs of our society and business environment in the 21st century and worked hard to meet those needs.

As Frans Johansson, the opening session keynote speaker discussed in his talk on The Click Moment: Seizing Opportunity in an Unpredictable World, you can’t rely on one grand strategy that never changes, you must make many small course corrections and place many bets about the future. We must continue to closely read the trends, events and needs of our workplaces, and take action to benefit from the changes.

Johannson also spoke about the critical importance of using innovation to stand apart from others in a way that brings success. I can’t agree with him more! As I have moved through progressive levels of OSH responsibility, I have learned that the ability to innovate is highly sought after by organizations and a critical skill for leadership success. I have talked with many accomplished peers (both in OSH and beyond) about how they find innovation and learned many lessons. I could write a book on all the great ideas, activities and wisdom that these nurturing colleagues have shared with me but I only have space today to share one today to get you started.

The magazine Fast Company is a critical source of innovation ideas and concepts. I encourage you to subscribe or follow on Twitter (@FastCompany@FastCoExist@FastCoDesign and @FastCoCreate).  Take time to follow the great ideas and successes from a wide variety of fields and organizations and then consider how these activities can be applied to your situation. Application and adaptation of successes from other fields to ensure success is the mark of innovative leaders.

I’ll end this post by again agreeing with Mike Belcher: the state of our profession is strong and we are positioned to continue that success, as long as ASSE members are willing to step up and innovate.


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