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 - November 2006

With so much common ground, ASSE and AIHA easily can seek common issues to champion-greatly improving the overall effectiveness of both groups and strengthening the profession as a whole.

2006-2007 ASSE President Donald S. Jones, Sr., MBA, PE, CSP

Working Together on Common Ground

We are more alike than we are different. ASSE may represent safety professionals and AIHA may represent industrial hygienists, but there is significant overlap within those broad rubrics. The same is true for many other associations within the vast occupational safety and health field-American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Health Physics Society, American Association of Occupational Health Nurses, National Safety Council and many others.

Most important, the professions we represent have similar goals. ASSE's website states that "ASSE is a global organization that works to advance the technical, scientific, managerial and ethical knowledge and skills of occupational safety, health and environmental professionals, and is committed to protecting people, property and the environment." AIHA's mission statement reads, "AIHA promotes healthy and safe environments by advancing the science, principles, practice and value of industrial hygiene and occupational and environmental health and safety." With so much common ground, we easily can seek common issues to champion-greatly improving the overall effectiveness of both groups and strengthening the profession as a whole.

ASSE and AIHA are currently updating our memorandum of understanding (MOU), replacing an earlier agreement from 2004. This MOU calls for our two organizations to work together in areas and on projects of mutual interest, such as government affairs, public relations, promotion of publications and products, education and the efforts of the two associations' respective foundations. Within these general areas, we have sought specific ways to partner to the benefit of both organizations.

For example, following the publication of AIHA/ANSI Z10 last year, ASSE agreed to sell copies of the standard. The more widely Z10 is promoted, the more businesses will be helped by a systematic approach to occupational safety and health management; this arrangement clearly benefits the profession as a whole. (ASSE also has a representative on the Z10 Committee, and through that representative contributed to the successful development of the standard.)

Education is another area where we can work together. In many cases, ASSE chapters and AIHA sections are taking the lead on cooperative efforts. One recent instance was a partnership between the AIHA Central New York Section and ASSE's Central New York Chapter to present a 4-hour course, "Respiratory Protection: Train the Trainer for Law Enforcement." Other sections and chapters have long-standing relationships through which jointly sponsored professional development courses are delivered to the benefit of all local members.

On a big-picture level, both ASSE and AIHA are interested in promoting the occupational safety and health profession to students and young people. Both the ASSE Foundation and the American Industrial Hygiene Foundation offer scholarships to students; both associations support ABET's accreditation of college environmental health and safety programs. In fact, AIHA's Academy of Industrial Hygiene's Academic Accreditation Committee and ASSE's Educational Standards Committee jointly developed a set of new ABET program accreditation criteria for schools wishing to offer a broader approach to environmental health and safety in their curricula.

In the end, for both ASSE and AIHA, the profession must be our top priority. Despite what some may view as competing interests, if occupational safety and health as an industry declines, both associations will suffer. This requires willingness to compromise and an ability to see the big picture. Teamwork is a key to building our relationships as associations and to growing the profession as a whole. The MOU signed by our two groups is only a formal acknowledgment that we must work as a team for the greater good of the profession. The real proof is in the benefits provided to members and the public when we cooperate. Together, we can accomplish much more for the profession than we can apart.

Donald S. Jones, Sr., MBA, PE, CSP

Frank Renshaw, Ph.D, CSP, CIH