Make a Difference

© Michael Quirk

By Jim Smith, M.S., CSP, 2017-18 ASSE President

As I start my year as Society President, I think of all the volunteer leaders with whom I have worked over the past 38 years in various chapters, work groups, committees and boards of directors. Their passion, combined with their willingness to contribute time, share ideas and support the Society, has truly made a difference.

I am committed to continue making a difference in the coming year, and I ask you to help me make our profession and organization better. Here are my focal points for the coming year. 

•Professional networking. Networking is a primary reason OSH professionals join the Society. Globally, we have the best experts in the various disciplines our profession represents. ASSE is exploring how to best use technology and other platforms to harness this knowledge and enable ready access to it. Specifically, we are improving the website, increasing continuing education offerings (on-site and technology-aided) and developing better communication tools for networking across our member communities.

Standards of practice. As OSH professionals, we work with standards every day. The Society will continue to be a leader in developing industry standards for OSH. We are secretariat for 13 standards committees and administrator of two U.S. technical advisory groups on international ISO standards. In addition, more than 50 members represent ASSE on different standards-developing committees. Look for us to expand even more in this area.

Recognition of the profession. The Society champions the OSH profession to key stakeholders, government agencies and the public. We do this through our government and public affairs initiatives, our Risk Assessment Institute, and our work with International Network of Safety and Health Practitioner Organizations (INSHPO) and Center for Safety and Health Sustainability (CSHS).

Safety professionals are moving from a compliance-based approach to a risk-based approach that enables sustainable injury and illness reduction. Through our Risk Assessment Institute, we are gathering data, sharing case studies, processes and standards, and delivering professional training.

With our INSHPO partners, we have created a competency model that identifies the knowledge, skills and abilities one needs to practice in the OSH field. On Sept. 3, during the XXI World Congress on Safety and Health at Work, ASSE will join many other organizations in signing the Singapore Accord on the Standards of OHS Professionals. Doing so will signify our commitment to promote use and acceptance of the framework to improve the competence and capabilities of OSH professionals around the globe.

Sustainability is another platform from which we are making a difference. Through CSHS, the Society is helping to reshape the sustainability discussion to include human capital metrics that reflect how organizations care for the safety, health and well-being of their employees. 

Research. Research fills knowledge gaps, and provides data to develop standards of practice and support interventions. ASSE’s research agenda highlights three priorities: 1) assessing the effectiveness of safety management systems; 2) identifying what safety intervention processes are successful in reducing work-related injuries; and 3) integrating overall worker wellness with OSH. We are seeking to collaborate with a broad range of groups to develop evidence-based practices that the OSH community can employ to best protect workers.

We will continue our efforts in other areas as well, such as helping students transition to the workplace, elevating higher education and advancing certifications. Each of you has expertise, experience and professional knowledge that you can contribute to advance these initiatives. Opportunities exist at all levels—local, regional, practice specialty, common interest, university, committee—to give back to the safety profession and the Society. You can also make a difference by contributing to our body of knowledge, participating in discussions, sharing ideas, writing articles or presenting at conferences. 

Thank you for this opportunity to represent you and the OSH profession.


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