Hail & Farewell

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By Tom Cecich, CSP, CIH, 2016-17 ASSE President

Poet Geoffrey Chaucer penned the verse, “All good things must come to an end.” I know what he meant. Serving as ASSE president this past year has been an opportunity of a lifetime, and I am grateful that members entrusted me to lead this great organization. 

As I think back over the past year, I am thankful to ASSE members elected to leadership positions and those who volunteer to serve in the diverse roles needed to help ASSE grow, prosper and be a leading voice for the OSH profession and its practitioners. I also am thankful for the ASSE staff who work diligently to support our efforts and deliver value to our 37,000 members.

In past messages, I discussed ASSE’s strategic initiatives to engage member communities, develop industry-leading standards, provide high-quality continuing education, and promote and advance the OSH profession. I am particularly passionate about our endeavors to advance the OSH profession. ASSE must tell the story of what we do and the value we provide to organizations. As we educate management and promote the value that we contribute as OSH professionals, everyone who practices in safety benefits. 

I often say that a rising tide raises all ships. That is why we must continue to raise the bar of what it means to be a safety professional. Each of us must take steps to improve, whether it is gaining new knowledge, developing greater business skills or achieving certification. These individual continuous improvement efforts enhance our profession collectively.

Most businesses understand the need to comply with safety-related laws and regulations and most recognize that safety professionals help fulfill that responsibility. However, as my father, a human resources director, taught me long ago, the phrase “ensuring compliance” in a job description does not convey a high-value activity. Assessing compliance is just a small part of our professional responsibilities. To gain greater recognition, influence and compensation, we must reach higher. To do so, we must demonstrate our abilities to analyze risk, think critically, solve problems, counsel management, and assess and communicate the financial benefits of our recommendations.

While speaking with many ASSE groups, businesses, government representatives and a wide range of stakeholders during the year, I have consistently advocated for OSH professionals to move beyond a compliance mind-set toward a focus on identifying, assessing, reducing and communicating in terms of risk. This transformation must continue for our profession to increase its value.

As I conclude my term as your president, I can only imagine what our Society and our profession will look like in the future. Later this month, we will begin voting on a proposal to rename our organization the American Society of Safety Professionals. I believe this name better defines who we are and best positions our Society for the future.

We also know that safety professionals in the future will be better educated and more diverse. New technologies, globalization, widely diversified workforces, the speed of change, artificial intelligence and predictive analytics will fundamentally change our profession.

Despite all this change, our essential role as safety professionals will remain the same: We will continue to endeavor to ensure that people return home each day without being injured or made sick by their work. And we will continue to uphold the core values that define our profession.

I believe OSH professionals will prosper as executives, managers and workers seek us out to provide technical competence, leadership and business judgment, and to serve as a conscience to our organizations. The future for ASSE and the profession is bright. While I will not be leading the charge, you can be sure I will be cheering from the sideline.


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