September 2014

As chief elected officer of the Society, ASSE's president promotes the advancement of the Society and the safety profession, and represents ASSE before members, other relevant professional societies and various governmental agencies. Professional Safety shares his latest thoughts on the Society, the profession and its practice.

Read past messages in the President's Message Archive.

President's Message - October 2004

Outsourcing specialized SH&E services presents new challenges for department managers.

2004-2005 ASSE President Gene Barfield, CSP

The Challenge of Outsourcing

Today's economy has forced many companies to streamline their workforce. Company mergers are also leading to staff redundancies, which often result in reducing staff or rightsizing. As a result of these trends, many SH&E professionals must now outsource specialized services that were once an integral part of SH&E departments.

Outsourcing specialized SH&E services presents new challenges for department managers. We must now determine the scope and cost of a project for budgeting purposes; find a qualified specialist; and conduct follow-up to ensure project closure. The first step is to define the project's scope. If you are not skilled in a specialty, it is difficult to determine all aspects of the project and how to search for a qualified provider of the service. Once a candidate is selected, how is his/her competency evaluated?

Many of these challenges can be resolved with ASSE's help. Members can tap into the expertise of ASSE's 13 practice specialties. These groups cover nearly every specialized skill in the SH&E arena. The Consultants Practice Specialty provides the cornerstone for many outsourcing needs. I have also used the services of other professional trade associations. Recently, I met with Donna Doganiero, CIH, and Steven Davis, president and executive director of AIHA, respectively. They provided resources for locating within their association professionals who are qualified to perform industrial hygiene assessments. Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP) is another excellent resource for finding SH&E professionals with competencies in many areas of service. ASSE, AIHA and BCSP present the tip of the iceberg of professional trade associations designed to help members resolve outsourcing challenges.

ASSE also offers its A-List—an online listserv that allows members to share expertise and solutions. If you're not a member of the A-List, please visit the Members Only section of the ASSE website ( and sign up to participate in this growing network.

ASSE's membership services and practice specialties, coupled with the valuable assistance of other trade associations and professional certification organizations, should help you locate competent providers for all your outsourcing needs. ASSE members may also rely on the power of their networking abilities. Every member of the network that I call on for assistance has either provided the exact professional I needed or has given a contact that led me to the solution for my problem.

Other outsourcing challenges may not be as easy to solve. SH&E technical analysis projects must include a well-prepared scoping document that details specific elements of the analysis and the steps necessary for successful execution. Without an action plan, the project has a limited chance of yielding the desired information. The document must also detail the procedures to be used. Without these details, the consultant cannot properly prepare an action or implementation plan for the project. Project costs must be clearly communicated before analysis begins as well. Aratesheet of appropriate lab analysis fees should be included in the documents. On critical projects, a performance contract detailing timelines is imperative.

How can an SH&E professional obtain these scoping documents? Rely on your network or use the highlighted professional member services to direct you to these needed tools. Sessions at our Safety 2005 Professional Development Conference in New Orleans will provide attendees with information to help them develop the necessary criteria documents for bidding, performance criteria, cost and sources of qualified specialists to successfully manage the outsourced project.

Gene Barfield, CSP