Friday, June 1, 2012

The Future Is Ours to Make

2012 ASSE President Terrie S. Norris, CSP, ARM, CSPI
In Water the Bamboo, Greg Bell speaks of the faith a bamboo farmer has in planting his crop. He plants the bamboo bulb 6 ft into the ground, then waters it and waits. After a year, nothing has sprouted, but the farmer continues to faithfully water the bamboo and wait. After the second year, still nothing has appeared, yet the farmer continues to water the bulb, confident that it is growing. By the end of the third year, the bamboo shoot breaks through the ground and miraculously grows at a rate of 20 ft every 72 hours.
Our work in safety is akin to water- ing the bamboo. We must have faith in our vision even when it seems our progress has stalled. The safety profession has expanded beyond the workplace to include our communi- ties and the environment. We have made great strides in many coun- tries and have seen their workplace injuries and deaths decline, while in other countries, the condi- tions and losses remain high.
In many cases, safety seems to have landed on a plateau. Our profession has a long way to go to achieve our vision and accomplish our mission. Often, the chal- lenges seem daunting, but we must have faith and keep watering the bamboo.
For SH&E professionals, watering the bamboo means continuing to grow our profession to ensure that there are enough safety professionals to meet future demands. We all have a responsibil- ity to encourage and support future SH&E professionals. Each of us can help by becoming more involved with students at all levels of education. Speak at your community schools on career day or “Read to the Children Day,” and inspire young people to grow up and become a safety profes- sional like you. Mentor a student or a young professional. Get involved with your local ASSE student section. We each can inspire many by sharing our passion for this profession.
We also must continuously seek to improve our ability to engage top management and increase their understanding of how our efforts contribute to corporate objectives, improve corporate image and enhance sustainability. Our corporate leaders must recognize that safety is not an added expense which can be cut when the budget is tight. What we do is of vital importance to business success, and we must constantly strive to con- vey that message. We each must seek ways to evaluate our worth and the value of our efforts and involvement, and communicate that crucial infor- mation to management.
We also must continue to work with the governments and standards- setting organizations around the world as they develop regulations. We must work cooperatively with them and educate them about what works and what does not. We must share our expertise, experience and insight to ensure that standards deliver a workable framework for achieving consistent results.
In addition, as SH&E professionals, we must continue to work with global organizations that have similar goals. Each organization brings unique strengths and resources to the task of achieving our joint vision. Together, we can spread our message and our expertise faster and farther, and, thus, safeguard more people, protect more property and act as good stewards of the environment we all share. Work- ing together, we can increase our body of knowledge to better meet the challenges of the future.
John M. Richards Jr. said, “When it comes to the future, there are three kinds of people: Those who let it hap- pen, those who make it happen and those who wonder what happened.” Let’s be those who make it happen...and keep watering the bamboo.
The vast possibilities of our great future will become realities only if we make ourselves responsible for that future. - Gifford Pinchot