From the April issue of Professional Safety Journal and the ASSE President's Blog:

In 2014, ASSE’s House of Delegates (HOD) approved a governance restructure for the first time in 20 years. The vote culminated a process that began in 2010 with the formation of the Board Advisory Task Force that was charged with helping ASSE become more strategic and effective. The task force evolved into a series of governance meetings that eventually led to the HOD’s historic vote to approve the new organizational structure.

One key element of the new structure was a smaller 10-member board of directors consisting of the five-member Executive Committee, four at-large directors and, for the first time ever, a public director who would provide C-suite perspective and business acumen. Furthermore, all board members would now represent ASSE as a whole rather than various constituent groups. This structure was designed to help the board better align its efforts with ASSE’s mission and vision; focus on strategic initiatives (as opposed to operations); respond quickly to internal and external factors; and maximize the Society’s resources.

When the new board officially met for the first time in August 2015, the group immediately set out to develop an overall approach to moving the Society forward. The first step was to carefully assess the Society’s core competencies. Our goal was to identify which activities truly advance the OSH profession, add value to membership and distinguish ASSE from others. We evaluated more than 40 current programs and services, including publications, consensus standards, professional development, practice specialties, chapters and regions, alliances, government affairs, media relations and global growth. We based this evaluation on factors such as relatedness to mission, membership usage, financial results/potential, availability from other sources and similar criteria.

As a result of this process, we identified four key areas of strategic importance: member communities, professional development, standards and the value of the profession. Let’s take a closer look at each area.

1. Member communities. Some of our most passionate and involved members identify most strongly with a chapter, practice specialty or common interest group. And with good reason. Each entity offers a distinct opportunity to engage members and create a diverse community of OSH professionals. In addition to these traditional communities, we plan to develop online platforms that will provide meaningful and consistent member experiences around the globe. 

2. Professional development. Continuous learning is critical to our success. ASSE’s current offerings include the annual professional development conference (PDC), Seminarfest, webinars, certificate programs and certification prep workshops. In the coming year, ASSE will work to boost overall attendance at these events. Regional PDCs will also continue to be significant sources of education and networking for members.

3. Standards. ASSE is a leading voice in the evolution of voluntary OSH standards that reflect industry best practices. ASSE is secretariat of 11 series of ANSI consensus standards and is administrator of the U.S. technical advisory groups for three international standards, including the highly anticipated ISO 45001 standard and the widely used ISO 31000 standards on risk management. ASSE is looking to add a subscription-based service that will increase the availability of our standards and further solidify the Society’s influence on the profession’s body of knowledge.

4. Value of the profession. Sound OSH practices are both socially responsible and good business. ASSE is committed to advancing our profession through evidence-based approaches such as risk assessment and prevention through design. We will also continue to invest in making safety part of the sustainability discussion with business leaders and the investment community. And we will do everything possible to advance professionalism and ensure that only competent professionals perform OSH duties.

By identifying these strategic areas of focus, ASSE is positioned better than ever before to make important decisions about the Society’s direction, align and strengthen our core competencies, and address the things that matter most.