Tuesday, April 1, 2014

'Do You Know' - Highlights about the Society.

2013 ASSE President
Kathy A. Seabrook, CSP, CMIOSH, EurOSHM
Greetings! So many exciting things are happening within ASSE right now. I'd like to share some information on several of these initiatives - a sort of 'Do You Know?' highlights about the Society.

Changing ASSE
Over the past 12 months, ASSE has published articles, fielded questions and delivered webinars to educate members and delegates on the proposed governance model and related bylaws changes. At its winter meeting, ASSE's Board of Directors agreed on the next step in the governance process: During the House of Delegates (HOD) face-to-face meeting on June 8, in Orlando, FL, delegates will vote on a motion to change ASSE's governance model by adopting bylaws changes set out in the motion.

For the first time in 20 years, ASSE is seeking to change its governance structure. It is time for a change when you consider the backdrop of challenges the Society faces: the need for more resources among chapters, practice specialties and common interest groups who are directly serving our members; a shrinking volunteer pool; declining employer support for the time commitment many volunteer leader positions currently require; and changes in how members are engaging in ASSE.

Take some time to learn about the proposed changes. One great resource is our restructure website (www.asse.org/restructure), where you can find links to articles, webinars and other content about the proposal. Carefully consider the proposal, then ask your region vice president or council vice president any questions you have about how and why ASSE leaders determined that this model will help the Society compete and be viable into the future. In addition, we will host a Society-wide online governance panel discussion on April 24, 2014, at 12:00 p.m. (CDT).

Giving Back & Helping ASSE Grow
If you are interested in giving back to ASSE and the profession, consider participating in the Member-Get-a-Member Scholarship Fund campaign. The Society is donating $1 for each new member who joins ASSE based on a referral by a current member. To date, the campaign has raised nearly $2,900 for the ASSE Foundation. The Member-Get-a-Member Scholarship recipient will be announced this month along with the Foundation's entire scholarship program. Your participation in these programs demonstrates the power of our network: We help grow the Society and give back to the safety profession at the same time. That's definitely a win-win. You can learn more about the campaign and fund at www.asse.org/mgam.

Improving the Member Experience
ASSE's Council on Member and Region Affairs has approved an online chapter management tool that will streamline chapter-related processes. It is anticipated that this tool will allow chapter leaders to focus more of their limited volunteer time on engaging with local members and meeting their needs. This tool is just one example of ASSE's ongoing efforts to support chapters and improve the member experience. To learn more, contact ASSE's Steve Hansen (shansen@asse.org).

Defining the Safety Profession
Through the Council on Professional Affairs and Council on Practices and Standards, ASSE has been working to define the competencies needed to practice safety in the 21st century. In addition, as secretariat of International Network of Safety and Health Practitioner Organizations, ASSE is leading a global initiative to harmonize competency requirements for safety professionals around the world. These efforts also encompass work to revise ANSI/ASSE Z590.2-2003(R2012), Criteria for Establishing the Scope and Function of the Professional Safety Position. Through these initiatives, ASSE is defining the safety profession so that we are better able to demonstrate our value to our employers and other stakeholders.

Potential New ASSE Home
ASSE has identified a potential new headquarters building, and the Board of Directors has approved moving ahead with due diligence and negotiations. This follows on the HOD's approval in 2012 to search for a new headquarters facility. Look for more details as the process proceeds.

Connecting the Dots
I hope you are now more in the know about some exciting ASSE initiatives and are connecting the dots between these initiatives and your interests. I wonder, How will you connect to our ASSE network today?

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Connecting the Dots: Writing Our Future

2013 ASSE President
Kathy A. Seabrook, CSP, CMIOSH, EurOSHM
While in the Newark airport recently, I noticed a businesswoman carrying a bag emblazoned with this quote: "The future is unwritten." Attributed to Joe Strummer, front man of the band The Clash, these words inspired me to think about ASSE and our unwritten future. Opportunities abound for ASSE, the safety profession and safety professionals, if we are bold enough to recognize and seize them. Let's consider just a few of the ways that ASSE helps us collaborate to write a bright future.

Creating the Road Map
Our profession is on the cusp of great change and ASSE is positioned to both inform and lead this change. Over the past 8 months, I've shared updates on the Society's many strategic initiatives, from students and global outreach to promoting our profession's business value and connecting safety to business goals and initiatives. In particular, ASSE's collaborative partnership in the Center for Safety and Health Sustainability and our creation of the Risk Assessment Institute are key steps in our efforts to ensure that corporate leaders consider occupational safety when making business decisions.

The Society is also an active, influential voice in the collaborative global effort to frame the profession. By level setting competencies for safety professionals, we will provide a benchmark, agreed to by global consensus, on the skills (technical and business) and the readiness needed for safety professionals to work effectively anywhere in the world. These diverse initiatives directly affect each of us as SH&E professionals practicing today, and they move our profession and ASSE toward the future.

Leading Culture Change
ASSE and our members are also at the forefront of efforts to develop an international standard for occupational safety and health management systems. ASSE is the administrator of the U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) for ISO Project Committee 283, Occupational Health and Safety Management SystemsÑRequirements. More than 80 TAG stakeholders and thought leaders met in Washington, DC, to participate in the development of ISO 45001, a risk-based standard that will encompass leadership engagement, risk assessment and continual improvement. By fostering a systems-thinking approach to safety management, this standard has the potential to transform business culture and help elevate SH&E professionals and the profession worldwide.

This standards-development work ties directly to ASSE's efforts to educate our stakeholders on the value of occupational safety, and to help SH&E professionals align occupational safety with business strategy, goals and planning. The culture transformation that occurs when safety professionals partner and collaborate to inform organizational strategy and influence operational decision making is both evolutionary and revolutionary. It takes business time to change its culture around workplace safety. Yet, when safety professionals step outside their comfort zone and engage executives by making a business case for safety, companies can experience operational excellence, high productivity, top quality, lower costs and continuous improvement. That can be revolutionary.

Connecting the Dots
While the future is unwritten, by focusing on assessing risks and seizing opportunities, developing a dynamic strategic plan and engaging key stakeholders in understanding the business value of occupational safety, we can take proactive steps to ensure that the future is a bright one for safety professionals, our profession and ASSE.

Opportunities abound for us to become valued business partners, contributors, in-demand collaborators and go-to resources for decision makers in our organizations. I wonder, What choices you will make today to seize these opportunties and help write our collective future?

"We are continually faced by great opportunities brilliantly disguised as insoluble problems."
Lee Iacocca

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Connecting the Dots: Demonstrating Safety's Business Value

2013 ASSE President
Kathy A. Seabrook, CSP, CMIOSH, EurOSHM
Everything ASSE does, from programs, products and services to networking opportunities and member development, aligns with its vision to be a global advocate and premier leader for the SH&E professional and the profession. As SH&E professionals who actively demonstrate the business value of SH&E each day, each of us also plays a vital role in helping ASSE achieve this vision.

Demonstrating Our Value
Delivering value in business means protecting assets, mitigating risks and adding to the bottom line. Our employers expect to rest well each night knowing that business risks are mitigated and stakeholders are happy. SH&E risks are among those business risks, and it is our professional challenge to ensure that every meaningful engagement we have with employers demonstrates this connection.

Our role in business continues to transition from a focus on compliance to a focus on risk assessment and mitigation. SH&E professionals are adept at identifying risks, and we are learning to communicate about safety performance in terms of risk identification and mitigation. Risk is the language of business. CEOs, CFOs, directors, investors and operational leaders all understand this language, and such communication helps us demonstrate our value and brings us closer to our operational and leadership partners.

Our professional transformation has also seen us grow from safety enforcers to be avoided to in-demand collaborators who understand organizational challenges and needs. Operational leaders who own and are accountable for safety recognize that everyone is responsible for identifying and mitigating SH&E risk and making informed decisions. These leaders rely on us for subject-matter expertise and guidance that will help them make good decisions, mitigating risk and managing production expectations.

Meeting Customer Expectations
During the Kuwait Chapter's professional development conference, I participated on a panel with the leaders of two of Kuwait's largest companies: Mr. Ismail Abdulla Ali, deputy chief executive officer (Corporate Services Directorate) of Kuwait Oil Co., and Mr. Mohammed Hussain, CEO of Equate Petrochemical Co. These top executives discussed their commitment to worker and operational safety, and made clear their expectations that safety professionals must work with operational leaders across the organization to identify and mitigate SH&E risks to their businesses.

This is where high-level executives see our greatest value, and their expectations should challenge each of us to answer several questions: What am I doing today to move the needle on SH&E risk mitigation? Do operational leaders view me as a valued collaborator with innovative problem-solving abilities and an understanding of internal and external business concerns? Am I a business enabler who can positively influence my organization's direction? To best answer these questions, we must first understand the business environments in which we operate as well as the challenges our CEOs face. Then, we must work to align SH&E objectives with overall business objectives. This may be integration with FDA/quality issues in a pharmaceutical company, sustainability initiatives at a consumer-products manufacturing site or challenges related to domestic/international supply chains.

Connecting the Dots to Performance
Recall the story of Alcoa CEO Paul O'Neill. When O'Neill began his tenure, Alcoa's safety record was better than the average U.S. company. But he clearly understood the value of keeping workers safe: If you want to understand how Alcoa is doing, you need to look at our workplace safety figures. If we bring our injury rates down . . . it will be because the individuals at this company have agreed to become part of something important. Safety will be the indicator that we're making progress in changing our habits across the entire institution.

O'Neill recognized that worker safety is an effective platform for changing organizational culture, and that an increased focus on worker safety leads to operational excellence, high productivity, top quality, lower costs and continuous improvement. In other words, he knew that safety is not only the right thing to do, it's also good for business.

Our role is to help our employers similarly connect the dots. Let's take up the challenge as SH&E professionals and ASSE members to help our employers recognize that an emphasis on worker safety creates highly sustainable and profitable organizations that have strong ethical values, high employee morale and solid reputations.

Our role in business continues to transition from a focus on compliance to a focus on risk assessment and mitigation.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Connecting the Dots: Students Power Our Future

2013 ASSE President
Kathy A. Seabrook, CSP, CMIOSH, EurOSHM
It's common to hear "students are our future" when speaking about the next generation. Although true, it also reflects an inevitability. That's why I view this topic a bit differently. I believe students power our future; they make it possible. As leaders of ASSE and in the global SH&E community, it is our responsibility to engage with them, pave their way and help them overcome obstacles. ASSE is doing just that.

Last year, our student member segment grew 23%, making it one of our fastest-growing segments. And it's happening on a global scale, with 13% of our student members residing internationally. We also added five new student sections in India in 2013. Our goal is to provide value not only to our more than 2,800 student members, but also to safety students who are not yet members, and those students who are not yet aware of our profession but have the skill set and passion needed to be great safety professionals. These opportunities to extend the Society's reach and grow our profession are energizing and exciting. Student Strategy Task Force ASSE has long focused on supporting and encouraging accredited degree programs and the academic community.

Thanks to the work of a task force of practicing SH&E professionals, employers, educators, young professionals and students, we are now taking a similar cohesive approach to the SH&E student life cycle. The group recommended a three-tiered strategic approach designed to increase the number of students entering the safety profession and engaging with ASSE. It focuses on the pipeline of students entering the profession, the overall student experience and the successful transition from student to practicing professional. This targeted focus will be coupled with the guiding policy of establishing a connection and proof of value between ASSE and SH&E students. This strategy is being implemented through a collaborative effort that involves the Society's four councils and various programs.

Student Sections
Our 69 student sections around the world are a great example of how an organization like ASSE can develop future leaders. Supported by dedicated faculty and local chapters and led by the students themselves, these sections are achieving amazing things. For example, ASSE's 2013 Outstanding Student Section at Central Washington University conducted a research project on using smartphone apps in safety and health. The section was invited to present its findings at the 2013 Oregon Governor's Safety and Health Conference. Applications for the 2014 Outstanding Student Section will be available this month at www.asse.org/membership/OSSA.php. If you have a local student section, please encourage its leaders to apply.

Annual Future Safety Leaders Conference
Each year, a select group of outstanding student members participate in our Future Safety Leaders Conference. It is a unique event during which they can network, receive career training, gather job information and learn from practicing SH&E professionals. This year, 130 applicants were accepted, representing 36 colleges and universities from around the U.S. They participated in mock interviews and resume critiques, as well as sessions on research in safety and managing a multigenerational workforce. 

Connecting the Dots
In a recent survey, we asked ASSE student members, "As you think ahead to beginning your SH&E career, what are your top concerns?" The most frequent answer was concerns about being adequately prepared and having the right skills to perform and be successful. ASSE is a key resource for these students. Each of us can help prepare these future leaders by sharing our stories, knowledge, expertise and networks. I urge each of you to participate. Help our students power the future of our profession: Speak at a student section meeting, mentor, open your facilities for a student tour, sponsor the Future Safety Leaders Conference, share your next "big idea" about students with ASSE. The opportunities to engage with our students are limitless. Help us connect the dots and power the future of ASSE and our profession.

 "Three things give the student the possibility of surpassing his teacher: Ask a lot of questions, remember the answers, teach." Jan Amos ComŽnius 1592-1670

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Connecting the Dots: Ensuring a Bright Future for ASSE

2013 ASSE President
Kathy A. Seabrook, CSP, CMIOSH, EurOSHM
By now, you've most likely read or heard about our efforts to revise the Society's governance structure. As a Society, we have been transparently discerning a better governance model for ASSE since 2010. To keep you informed, we have published articles in PS since April; we've hosted webinars; we've discussed the model at many chapter and regional operating committee meetings; and it was discussed during Safety 2013 at the regional caucus and council meetings. In addition, we created a dedicated website at www.asse.org/restructure.

These ongoing communications are designed to explain why this governance change is important to ASSE's future. Our ultimate goal is to create an organization that can readily identify and seize opportunities to serve Society members and deliver value while advancing the SH&E profession in the eyes of employers, the business community, policy makers, ASSE members and other stakeholders. ASSE's Board of Directors (BOD) has approved the proposed model and the associated bylaws changes. The final step will be a vote by the House of Delegates, which represents our regions, chapters, councils and practice specialties.

So Why Change?
Let's face it, change can be hard in any organization. So, what prompted the BOD to examine ASSE's governance? First, our model had not been reviewed in nearly 20 years. It was time. The world has changed dramatically since 1993, thanks to technology, globalization and changing economies. ASSE has also changed greatly in response to changing trends in volunteerism, the growth of chapters and practice specialties, and the advent of common interest groups (CIGs), which did not exist 20 years ago. You, our members, are telling us that you want choice in how you engage with ASSE in order to meet your needs geographically, by subject matter and affiliation. ASSE is mindful of this trend and continuously seeks to better meet members' changing needs in all three areas.

Through this process, we also came to better understand the workload and expectations experienced by regional and council vice presidents in fulfilling their dual operational and strategic roles. As any board member can attest, ensuring productive operations in regions, chapters, practice specialties, CIGs, professional development, professional affairs, and practices and standards is a full-time volunteer job. Add to this the need to identify strategic opportunities for the Society, and it is clear that our volunteer leaders often face unrealistic expectations.

This understanding led to development of a new model that ÒdecouplesÓ BOD operational roles from strategic roles. The BOD will focus on strategic planning, legal and policy, financial management and overall
organizational evaluation. The public director would help the BOD calibrate its perspective on ASSE's strategic direction. Decoupling also addresses the fact that fewer members are volunteering due to competing priorities of family, work and ASSE. The Society is already finding that fewer volunteers are able to engage due to time constraints and/or lack of employer support. This reflects a trend seen across volunteer associations of all kinds.

Will Member Needs Be Met?
One member recently raised a concern that member needs will not be met under the proposed model. Meeting member needs was a driving force behind the BOD's decision to assess ASSE's governance. Through our dialogue with members and past and current leaders, and our work with recognized association management experts, it became clear that all members will benefit if regional and council vice presidents are able to focus on their operational roles. Chapters, sections, practice specialties and CIGs will have greater access to these leaders' expertise and guidance, and our volunteer leaders will be able to dedicate their time to addressing operational challenges and collaborating to develop innovative solutions.

Some members believe the proposed model leaves them with no voice on the board. Let's take a look at that concern. Under the proposed model, ASSE's councils will have decision-making authority over operational issues at their level. Unless those issues are strategic, or have significant financial or reputational implications, BOD approval will not be needed. This will enable our operational leaders to make decisions, implement timely resolutions, and move quickly on ideas from all groups. This increases the member influence in ASSE. In addition, all councils can raise strategic issues through the senior vice president who is their voice on the BOD.

Connecting the Dots
So, let's connect the dots. A governance model that is relevant and reflective of ASSE's current and future needs will enable the Society to be strong, viable and sustainable. We are then positioned to advocate the value of workplace safety and health with our employers and other stakeholders, and to provide all members with networking and professional development opportunities, resources and tools to help us do our jobs. At the end of the day, each of us is working to provide safe, healthy workplaces wherever we are in the world. Happy holidays!

Meeting member needs was a driving force behind the Board of Directors' decision to assess ASSE's governance.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Connecting the Dots: ASSE Global Initiatives Influence Our Profession and You

2013 ASSE President
Kathy A. Seabrook, CSP, CMIOSH, EurOSHM
ASSE's vision is to be a global advocate for the safety professional and a premier leader of the safety profession. In my first message in July, I highlighted many ASSE initiatives that are relevant to us all while advancing our profession. Let's continue to connect the dots on three global initiatives that are influencing the value of our profession.

International Network of Safety & Health Practitioner Organizations
ASSE is secretariat of International Network of Safety and Health Practitioner Organizations (INSHPO), a global alliance of international professional safety organizations. In September, INSHPO representatives met in Montreal, Quebec, to continue their work to develop a global occupational safety and health (OSH) competency framework. This framework involves a cross-national analysis of core competencies, bodies of knowledge and professional benchmarks. Its creation will be a major step toward better defining our profession.

In addition, the framework will inform the next revision of ANSI/ASSE Z590.2, Criteria for Establishing the Scope and Functions of the Professional Safety Position, a U.S. consensus standard that defines our profession for the business community and society. This connection is an important step. It recognizes that our profession is becoming more global and needs well-defined standards of practice, which are common in traditional professions such as medicine, law and engineering. The competency framework and ANSI/ASSE Z590.2 will better define what an OSH practitioner does and, in the process, increase our profession's value.
Well-defined competency requirements ensure that those who practice safety represent our profession well and have the skills, knowledge and capability to do so. They also give us an effective means to educate business stakeholders and general society about the profession and the value it delivers. Building brand awareness and reputation also enhances our marketability and helps advance our careers.

International Safety Management Systems

International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has formed a committee to develop an occupational health and safety management systems (OHSMS) standard. ASSE is leading this global initiative as administrator of the U.S. technical advisory group (TAG) on the standard. ANSI President S. Joe Bhatia calls the proposed standard "one of the most significant consensus standards activities in the past 50 years." Indeed, it will influence OSH management on a global scale.

In September, the TAG discussed the proof of concept document to meet ISO formatting and language requirements. The project committee held its initial meeting in London, England in October. This will lead to the first working draft, then to a formal committee draft, which is expected to be available for public comment in 2014. ISO anticipates the standard will be completed within 3 years (mid-2016).

Center for Safety & Health Sustainability

Center for Safety and Health Sustainability (CSHS) seeks to give SH&E professionals a stronger voice in sustainability policies. Through informed research and dialogue with sustainability leaders, CSHS provides new insights into the measurement, management and impact of safety and health as it relates to sustainability.

By shaping this dialogue to include safety, the center aims to be a recognized thought leader for sustainability and corporate social responsibility. Such efforts will raise the value of our profession. As more business leaders and policy makers recognize that workplace safety and health is integral to sustainable organizations, they will place greater emphasis on managing OSH risks, which will lead to our ultimate goal: Safe workplaces, globally.

The center is working to establish key performance indicators for OSH, and is working to influence the Global Reporting Initiative's (GRI) framework. Better GRI metrics will further increase the value of OSH and demonstrate true OSH performance.


ASSE is influencing the future direction of OSH through its global initiatives and as a result is raising the bar for our profession. Recognition that our profession delivers value and that safety management is good business will produce safe workplaces, create jobs and enrich our careers. Your challenge: What will you do today to influence the perspective of your organizational leaders to recognize that managing OSH risks is good business? Have a safe month!

ASSE is influencing the future direction of OSH and raising the bar for our profession through its global initiatives

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Connecting the Dots: Directing Your Career Journey

2013 ASSE President
Kathy A. Seabrook, CSP, CMIOSH, EurOSHM
So, what do you want to be doing in 3 years? In 5 years? In 10 years? Careers are lifetime journeys that involve planning, setting goals and reaching milestones, then regularly confirming that we're on the right path so we know that we are moving in the best direction. By asking these questions, we can also assess the present and adjust our path based on changing interests, needs and industry demands.

To help you make the most of your career journey, whether you are a student, a mid-career practitioner, a top-of-your-game performer or a transitioning professional, consider ASSE your career partner. ASSE offers many resources that you can use to advance your education, gain new skills and knowledge, and access expertise across a more than 35,000-member network. All of these will help you deliver greater value professionally and advance your SH&E career.

A good first step in your journey is to map out a career plan. Career Guide to the Safety Profession, co-published by ASSE Foundation and BCSP (http://goo.gl/kex3CH), examines employment outlook and explores work opportunities within the profession. It also defines areas of specialization, explains certification and lists recommended courses of study to enter the profession and advance your career.

Mentors are another important career resource. ASSE has more than 35,000 members, any one of whom is a potential mentor. To start connecting, take a look at the Women in Safety Engineering mentoring program (http://goo.gl/UsGK3G), which is not gender specific, and the Society's Networking Partners Program (http://goo.gl/4D3UBv), which helps connect ASSE members who are seeking employment with members who can help them begin or recharge their job search.

In addition, check out ASSE's updated Members-Only Mentor Board, and watch for the debut of a new leadership mentoring program in mid-2014 that will help ASSE identify and develop future Society leaders. Another valuable resource is the SH&E Career Resource Center (http://goo.gl/rgck5a), where you'll find links to information on job search essentials and resources, as well as career change advice. The new jobs board (http://jobs.asse.org) will provide you with current employment opportunities as well.

Beyond all these great resources, let's take this discussion on connecting the dots between your career and ASSE a bit further and consider continuing education. Are you technically oriented or seeking a future safety leadership role in your organization? What skills, experience and knowledge will help you reach the next level in your career and, ultimately, achieve your career goals?

Once you identify these needs, here's how ASSE can help. ASSE delivers education on technical, leadership, business and communications topics. For example, attaining a CSP designation is a primary career goal for many SH&E professionals, and ASSE's certification workshops with world-class instructors and study guides can help you prepare for these exams.

In addition, ASSE's certificate programs offer enrichment for safety professionals at all career stages, from novice practitioner to seasoned professional. Completing the Certificate in Safety Management, Executive Program in Safety Management and/or Global Safety Management Certificate can open the door to career opportunities.

Many other face-to-face education options are available at the Society, chapter, region, practice specialty and common interest group levels as well. For example, our next symposium, Fatality and Severe Loss Prevention, will be held Nov. 21-22, 2013, in San Diego, CA, and Safety 2014 will be held June 8-11, in Orlando, FL. To learn more about Society-level events, visit www.asse.org/education. For details on other events, visit http://calendar.asse.org.

ASSE also offers many virtual events to provide you with on-demand learning options. The e-Learning center (http://goo.gl/VwHV0M) offers podcasts, virtual symposia, webfests and conference recordings. Monthly live webinars feature subject-matter experts from around the world speaking about topics such as improving human performance, OHSAS 18001, fatigue management and the global harmonization standard. All webinars are accessible on demand after the event.

ASSE also recently launched the Business Skills for Safety Professionals portal. This collection of short videos focuses on business skills, such as communications strategies, negotiating tactics and finance essentials, that SH&E professionals must hone to be effective leaders. You'll find these videos on the Members-Only website (www.asse.org/membersonly).

Make the most of your career journey, enjoy what you do, and partner with ASSE to start taking full advantage of the many career resources our Society provides.