Tuesday, July 1, 2014

ASSE Is a Member-Driven Organization

Trish Ennis, CSP, ARM
ASSE is often described as a member-driven organization. But what does that mean exactly? And how are ASSE members setting the organization’s direction?

In a member-driven organization, members are actively engaged in the activities the organization performs. This includes participation and leadership at all levels in support of the organization’s strategic goals. Within ASSE, we as members are involved in all aspects of Society operations, from the elected Board of Directors to the activities carried out by councils, regions and chapters at the Society, region and local levels. ASSE is a great example of an organization whose members are actively working to define their profession and set a direction for the future.

As a 103-year old organization with a diverse membership base, the Society has continuously evolved in response to significant changes over the years, from regulatory and societal changes to the global economy and technology. Throughout this long history, ASSE has been a leader in providing top-quality continuing education as a key element of achieving its mission to help ASSE members excel in their careers. This has only been possible because ASSE members are always willing to help each other learn, ever ready to share their knowledge and collectively determined to grow this profession.

Let’s consider two key areas in which this is most evident—professional development and technical publications. At the Society level, ASSE’s annual professional development conference (PDC) improves each year, SeminarFest continues to grow and our hot-topic symposia are well attended, as are our many virtual learning events.

At the local level, the education delivered by chapters and regions is expanding as well. For example, this past Society year, ASSE chapters and regions around the world delivered nearly 35 local or area PDCs that drew more than 5,550 safety practitioners. These events included the 11th Middle East Chapter PDC, the Nigeria Chapter’s first-ever PDC, the biennial Pacific Rim Governor’s Conference and the Society’s first-ever PDC in India. These are just a few examples of the extensive and diverse learning opportunities available to ASSE members. They are also a testimony to our members’ dedication to advancing the profession through education, networking and knowledge exchange.

Members are also directly involved in identifying professional development topics and creating events. Members of ASSE’s Council on Professional Development work closely with members of other ASSE councils and committees to assess member needs, identify subject-matter experts and develop new delivery methods, such as webinars, virtual symposia, podcasts and similar offerings that enable 24/7 accessibility to education.

In addition, technical publications have long been a top benefit of membership. ASSE members play a key role in these efforts by serving as peer reviewers on the Editorial Review Board for Professional Safety or by reviewing book proposals as members of ASSE’s Technical Publications Committee. Many more members write these articles and books as a way to share their knowledge and lessons learned.

The Society’s practice specialty groups also regularly publish member-written technical articles and white papers, and many other members help develop the consensus standards that drive continuous improvement across all industries. All of this information contributes to our profession’s body of knowledge and helps us improve our skills so we can better safeguard workplaces around the world.

As you can see, ASSE membership provides us with many tangible benefits such as continuing education and technical content. For many, membership also provides diverse ways to give back to the profession, whether it is presenting at conferences, writing articles or volunteering as Society leaders at various levels. I encourage each of you to explore the many opportunities available to you to get involved in ASSE and add your voice as we pursue our vision of the future of our profession.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Let's Take a Public Stand for Worker Safety

Dear Fellow ASSE Members:

It's not every day that we get a chance to do something together to make a public stand for the safety and health of workers. As I know many of you already have heard, ASSE's partners in occupational safety and health - OSHA and NIOSH - have been working hard to get as many construction employers as possible to participate in the June 2-6 National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction. The point of the Stand-Down is to get employers and workers together to stop and take the time to focus on ways each job site can reduce the leading risk of death in construction - FALLS. What you already do to protect workers from falls is needed on every construction worksite.

Even if you do not work in construction, you have a role to play by committing to this effort with your employer and by reaching out to other employers, colleague safety and health professionals, construction workers you know or anyone else who can help make a Stand-Down happen. Both OSHA and NIOSH have created webpages to help you learn more about the Stand-Down and how you can participate. ASSE and its Construction Practice Specialty have urged chapters and members to be a catalyst and embrace this opportunity to demonstrate our leadership role in construction safety. Please click here for a list of good ideas on how to make a Stand-Down effective.

In these last couple of weeks before the Stand-Down, it's not too late to step up and be that catalyst in the prevention of falls in construction. Making workplaces safer is our common goal. This is a great opportunity to make that happen together.

Make it a safe day!


Kathy A. Seabrook, CSP, CFIOSH, EurOSHM

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Connecting the Dots: Partnerships, Alliances & Collaboration

2013 ASSE President
Kathy A. Seabrook, CSP, CMIOSH, EurOSHM
Occupational safety and health (OSH) professionals are natural collaborators. It is how we get things done. Whether we partner with leaders in operations, procurement and maintenance, or with other stakeholders such as human resources, research and development, risk management, legal or marketing, through collaboration we build the buy-in and engagement needed to effect change and advance any safety initiative.
Collaboration through partnerships and alliances is essential to ASSE as well. The outcomes of our collaborative efforts far exceed what any one group could achieve on its own for OSH professionals, for the profession and, most importantly, for worker safety. The unified voice of the global OSH community is strong. When heard, opportunities for change abound.

This month, I would like to highlight some examples that illustrate how collaboration helps strengthen the profession and, ultimately, benefits all ASSE members.

The Power of Collaboration
•The Central Indiana Chapter partners with the Indiana Department of Labor’s INSafe Division and the Indiana Chamber of Commerce each year to present a 3-day conference that draws more than 800 safety professionals.
•The Central Florida Chapter joined forces with the Alliance for Central Florida Safety to create Safety Day 2014 in March. The event drew more than 500 attendees and 50 vendors.   
•Region I’s strategic plan includes designating a region-level association outreach coordinator. The ultimate goal of this position is to foster relationships and build partnerships with groups such as AIHA, NSC, RIMS, Society for Human Resource Management and Public Agency Safety Management
•In Region V, the Northeastern Illinois, Three Rivers and Greater Chicago chapters have long partnered with various groups, including AIHA’s Chicago Section, the local section of Alliance of Hazardous Materials Professionals, OSHA, Northern Illinois University and National Safety Education Center, to hold an annual conference. This past year marked the 25th anniversary of this partnership, and the conference attracted more than 800 attendees. 
•ASSE’s Safety Professionals and the Latino Workforce common interest group and the Standards Development Committee are translating safety information for Spanish-speaking audiences. The Z359 Fall Protection Code and the curriculum of the VPP Excellence in Safety Certificate of the University of Alabama in Birmingham are examples of the ongoing effort to reach out to Hispanic SH&E professionals and the Spanish-speaking workforce.
•ASSE and its partners in the International Network of Safety & Health Practitioner Organizations are developing a global competency model for the profession.
• North American Occupational Safety and Health Week continues to grow and raise awareness of occupational safety globally. It’s the result of our ongoing collaboration with Canadian Society of Safety Engineering and Interdisciplinary Association of Occupational Health and Hygiene of Mexico.
•ASSE joined with NSC and AIHA to support federal funding for OSHA and NIOSH. Even in difficult budget years, the national focus on OSH must remain strong.
•ASSE is also working with OSHA to spread the word about the agency’s National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction June 2-6.
The campaign goal is to have more than 25,000 employers and 500,000 workers participate.

Connecting the Dots
As these examples show, the whole is, indeed, greater than the sum of its parts. Whether in your workplace, as an ASSE volunteer or throughout life, alliances and collaboration are game changers that help us achieve outcomes that likely would not have been possible otherwise. I challenge each of you to seek out partners, build alliances and look for opportunities to collaborate so that your safety strategies and initiatives can succeed.

What you will do today to move the safety needle in your organization?

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