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ASSE urge feds to update safety professionals’ job description

August 3, 2012

ASSEMore than three decades after the federal employee job classification for the GS-0018 ‘Safety and Occupational Health Management’ job series was last updated, the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) says it’s time for a revision.

The ASSE is urging the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to accept recent Federal Advisory Council on Occupational Safety and Health (FACOSH) recommendations to update the qualifications of these federal positions to better reflect the job’s increased responsibilities.

Noting that many ASSE members are federal employees, ASSE President Richard A. Pollock, CSP, in his letter to OPM Director John Berry said, “These recommendations were adopted to address the current classification’s inability to keep up with both changes in the practice of occupational safety and health and the increasing recognition of the vital role they play in advancing the bottom line mission of any organization, whether in government or the private sector.

“Today’s safety and health professional confronts complex risks that did not exist a decade ago, much less in 1980 when the GS-0018 series was written,” Pollock said. “Today’s safety professionals must be highly educated and committed to continual advanced training. Along with expertise in a wide range of hazards, controls, and assessment methods in occupational safety and health, their practice requires expert knowledge and abilities in engineering, business, operations, education and training, laws and regulations, human behavior, and computer and Internet technologies.”

ASSE Past President Nancy McWilliams, CSP, ARM, director of the Office of Occupational Safety and Health at the U.S. Department of Commerce and a member of the FACOSH Training Subcommittee which first developed the recommendations, noted, “The FACOSH recommendations are specifically aimed at helping make sure that safety professionals hired into the federal workforce in the future have the sophisticated knowledge of hazards recognition, the ability to identify measures to control those hazards, the skills to defend the budgeting for and implementation of those controls to management, as well as the planning and organizational strategies to protect employees from work-related injury and illness.”

The three FACOSH recommendations for updating the qualifications of the GS-0018 safety and occupational health management job series include: deleting the option of using experience alone as a qualification and requiring education and/or professional certification such as a Certified Safety Professional (CSP), an Industrial Hygienist (CIH) or a Certified Health Physicist (CHP); that OPM put the GS-0018 job series in the Professional Series; and OPM include the phrase “from an accredited college or university” with the education requirements, such as a bachelor’s or higher level degree, or an associate’s or higher level degree in occupational safety, from a college or university accredited by an accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.