The new year is often a time for looking toward the future, whether it's making resolutions for change or trying some custom such as dropping molten lead into a bowl of cold water to determine what the future will bring. As a Society, ASSE doesn't wait until New Year's Eve to ponder the future and devise new goals. We continually look forward and plan because we know that the actions we take today are the foundation for our future.
Clearly, safety professionals no longer concentrate solely on industrial safety. We are engaged in protecting the public, the patrons of our establishments, the users of our companies' products, the environment we share and much more.
One hundred years ago, our Society's goal was to engineer safe industrial workplaces. That goal has grown and evolved. The definition of safety within our bylaws illustrates those changes and how our focus on protecting people, property and the environment has expanded. Article I, Section 3, states:
The definition of the safety profession as used in these bylaws is:
'The safety profession is composed of individuals engaged in one or more of the specialties within the various sciences for the primary purpose of developing and/or implementing methods, procedures, systems, devices, and/or standards toward the reduction, control or elimination of hazardous exposures to people, property or the environment.'
A look at ASSE's practice specialties and branches illustrates the vast disciplines in which safety is involved. Visit www.asse.org/practicespecialties to learn more about any of these groups.
Safety may be a small word, yet it contains so much meaning. It is no different than the word doctor or lawyer, although it is not yet as clearly defined as either of those words. When someone meets a doctor or lawyer, s/he might ask, "What's your specialty?" When someone asks a safety professional about his/her occupation, the answer "I'm in safety" likely elicits a curious look followed by a response such as, "What is that?"
ASSE is working to define the standards of professional competency, including defining the various levels of safety professionals and practitioners. Through such initiatives, we will ensure that at some future point, when you are asked what you do, the discussion that follows will focus on your area of specialty within safety rather than on what the broader profession encompasses. As we define safety and its competencies, we will gain greater recognition and respect, which will increase our value to our employers and further raise the stature of our profession.
It is a new year, yet our resolutions to grow and evolve the definition of the SH&E profession have not changed. Not matter the obstacles encountered, we will continue to actively pursue these goals.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, "The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today. Let us move forward with strong and active faith." I have no doubt that together, we will grow ASSE's influence and position this Society as a thought leader of the SH&E profession. We will raise the bar on the practice of safety. We will demonstrate our value to our employers, our legislators and our communities. And we will contribute a meaningful voice to the international discourse on occupational safety and grow our global community.
Embrace the future, get involved and help ASSE achieve its goals.