Friday, March 1, 2013

Expanding Our Global Connections

2012 ASSE President
Richard A. Pollock, CSP

First, I want to thank you all for taking the leap and voting in the Society election. I appreciate your involvement.

As we expand and develop ASSE's global relationships, we are learning that safety unites us all. As a global community, we are collectively pursuing a common purpose and share a true passion to advance workplace safety.

Unfortunately, each week seems to bring reminders of just how vital our work is. Tragic incidents continue to show that safety lessons from history too often remain unlearned, become neglected or are simply ignored.

As you know in 1911, 146 workers died in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City. Despite the ensuing outrage that prompted new standards and improved protections, and led to the founding of ASSE, today, more than 100 years later, workers continue to die in similar situations. For example, more than 700 workers have died over the past 5 years in textile factory fires in Bangladesh with nearly 120 workers perishing in two recent fires at Tazreen Fashions and Smart Exports. The recent nightclub fire in Santa Maria, Brazil, is another tragic example. More than 230 people died in that fire, which unfortunately resembles too many other fatal incidents, as does the Petroleos Mexicanos refinery explosion that killed more than 35 people. Sadly, the list goes on.

Occupational safety precautions and protective measures are well known, yet tragic outcomes continue to occur. Multinational corporations are beginning to set standards for their suppliers and some are conducting audits, but progress is slow as the drive for profits in developing economies often results in disregard for known safety precautions.

While the need for regulatory oversight, increased risk assessment, hazard awareness and control measures in developing countries is clear, safety problems persist in developed countries as well. Each day, we hear reports of refinery fires, mining explosions, crane collapses, pipeline failures, multivehicle crashes and more. No country is immune to occupational safety tragedies.

Expanding Relationships & Opportunities
As a premier leader of the SH&E profession, ASSE is uniquely positioned to tackle these challenges and champion viable solutions around the world. To support our global efforts, we are making connections and establishing relationships with many international partners. Consider just a few recent developments:

  • New chapters formed in India and United Arab Emirates (UAE), a new section in Mexico, new student sections in India, and interest is high in Qatar, Costa Rica, Jamaica and Oman.
  • Conference presentations in India, Qatar, Azerbaijan, UAE, Canada, the U.K. and Australia are expanding global awareness of ASSE.
  • The Center for Safety and Health Sustainability released a study, "Current Practices in Occupational Safety and Health Reporting," that provides a snapshot of sustainability reporting practices, examines their comparability and offers guidance for occupational safety and health sustainability reporting.
  • As secretariat of the International Network of Safety and Health Practitioner Organizations, ASSE is working with other SH&E organizations to develop a global model, scope and function for the profession, and to achieve consensus on technical competencies and core activities.
  • The International Practice Specialty hosted a symposium on metrics this past year in Orlando, FL.
  • ASSE is the U.S. Technical Advisory Group Administrator for ISO standards on risk management and risk assessment, and fall protection and fall arrest.
  • ASSE is developing a Global Certificate in Safety Management program.
  • Safety 2013 will include a full track of global sessions with speakers from countries such as Australia, China, India, Kuwait, Nigeria, Panama, South Africa, South Korea, Switzerland and the U.K.

ASSE's global connections are opening doors of opportunity. Our international partners want to expand safety awareness in their countries, establish standards and transform cultures. ASSE is poised to provide valued guidance, insight, products, services and education, and we are eager to learn from our colleaguesÕ experiences as well. Together, we can prevent the needless deaths that occur each day in every country. Please support our global initiatives and seize the emerging opportunities to help SH&E professionals worldwide.