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 - February 2009

As SH&E professionals, integrity is a critical ingredient in the performance of our duties. What we do to analyze and manage risks could directly affect many people’s well being.

2008-2009 ASSE President Warren Brown, CSP, ARM

Promoting Integrity

In recent months, news reports have been filled with stories of people—from elected government officials to investment bankers and corporate executives—violating the public trust. A common theme throughout many of these stories has been an apparent lack of integrity among those involved in these incidents.

Violations of the public trust lead to many negative consequences—for you, your employer and your profession. As SH&E professionals, integrity is a critical ingredient in the performance of our duties. What we do to analyze and manage risks could directly affect many people’s well being and affect our company’s ability to conduct business. As an ASSE member, you have agreed to follow the Society’s bylaws and Code of Professional Conduct. Furthermore, if you hold a professional license or recognized certification, you are held accountable to the codes of conduct or ethics supported by the granting organizations.

Although we should all be familiar with these professional standards, many of us have likely never read ASSE’s Code of Professional Conduct, let alone the bylaws. (Both can be accessed at www.asse
­.org. The code is found in the “About Us” section; the bylaws are found in the “Members Only” section, which you can access with your membership number and last name.) To ensure absolute integrity, all members of ASSE, including the Board of Directors, must understand and follow the Code of Pro­fessional Conduct. Under our bylaws, if a member fails to abide by the code, that member, following an appropriate investigative process, may be removed from membership in ASSE.

To help improve our understanding of ASSE’s Code of Professional Conduct so we can perform our duties in the most ethical manner, let’s take a closer look at it. Consider first the fundamental principles:

1) Protect people, property and the environment through the application of state-of-the art knowledge. Keeping up to date can be achieved through continuing education opportunities such as those offered by ASSE.

2) Serve the public, employees, employers, clients and the Society with fidelity, honesty and impartiality. This requires you to be truthful in your activities.

3) Achieve and maintain competency in the practice of the profession. Again, continuing education can improve your competencies in the areas in which you practice.

4) Avoid conflicts of interest and compromise of professional conduct. Analyze the job scope and use your best judgment in accepting tasks; avoid jobs where your competence may not be up to the highest levels.

5) Maintain confidentiality of privileged information. This is an important element to abide by.

Now consider the fundamental canons, which state that in the fulfillment of our duties as safety professionals and ASSE members we shall:

1) Inform the public, employers, employees, clients and appropriate authorities when professional judgment indicates that there is an unacceptable level of risk. This is a sensitive area because of the many different definitions of risk, but you must use your best judgment and act accordingly.

2) Improve knowledge and skills through training, education and networking. Being an active member of ASSE can help you achieve success in this element.

3) Perform professional services only in the area of competence. Again, you can use the resources available through ASSE to expand your level of competence as your job duties dictate.

4) Issue public statements in a truthful manner and only within the parameters of authority granted. Be aware of your and your organization’s limits and do not exceed them.

5) Serve as an agent and trustee, avoiding any appearance of conflict of interest. If you anticipate a conflict, step back and reassess. Only move forward once you are sure the path is clear.

6) Assure equal opportunity to all. Be aware of your environment and act accordingly.

Ideally, all members would be aware of and understand our code to the level that they would always be above reproach. In reality, however, we all probably need a little help and regular reminders to be aware of and consistently apply the code in our daily activities.

Warren K. Brown, CSP, ARM