Golden age is a term used to describe periods of time in which great achievements were realized. For example, 500 to 300 B.C. is known as the golden age of ancient Greece because of the many great advances in philosophy, literature, art and government made during that time. For the U.S., the Roaring Twenties are often called a golden age, as it was an era defined by extraordinary industrial growth and the introduction of technology such as automobiles, radio, movies, refrigeration, telephones and commercial aviation that forever changed our culture.

I believe we are in midst of our own golden age in OSH. Our profession is enjoying unprecedented levels of recognition, innovation, advancement and employment. We are making a significant positive impact on businesses around the globe as more organizations embrace safety as a core value. While much work remains, the future is certainly bright:

Through design improvements and technological innovations, OSH professionals are affecting human performance and managing risk like never before. We are showing employers how to use prevention through design to eliminate the need for administrative and work practice controls and PPE. Through innovations in software, process controls, human performance technology, training and business integration, we are influencing more business outcomes than ever before.

As economies grow worldwide and as more people experience higher standards of living, our daily mission to create safe, healthy working conditions is playing an increasingly pivotal role in meeting the demands for improved worker rights.

Our profession is clearly defining itself by identifying the capabilities needed to practice in various roles. Our global framework addresses core competencies, guidelines for certification programs and a code of conduct, all of which will have a profound impact on hiring, retention and development of OSH professionals for many years to come.

We have a consensus set of learning outcomes for students that will become a model for OSH baccalaureate programs.

Our employment opportunities are expected to remain strong. As our profession becomes more defined and recognized, we are poised for good-paying jobs with new-found potential for upward mobility. This is encouraging news for Millennials, who will comprise 75% of the global workforce by 2025. They desire work that is both fulfilling and connected to a larger purpose. The OSH profession ranks high by these criteria.

We are on the verge of an international management systems standard for OSH known as ISO 45001. This will be the most significant OSH standard to come along in a generation and will direct organizations to connect OSH to their overall strategy and improve their safety performance via a structured continuous improvement process.

Our profession is gaining a deeper appreciation within the business and investment communities as these groups embrace the “triple bottom line of people, planet and profit” philosophy. In addition, the importance of human capital and social relationship capital is transforming the way that organizations view, manage and report on OSH. 

We are seeing more widespread acceptance of systems approaches to OSH. The growing acceptance of these systems is a critical step for our profession because traditional approaches to safety will never achieve truly sustainable results.

As OSH professionals, we can forever secure our place in history by maximizing our capabilities and cultivating a high level of quality in our profession. To ensure that this golden age of safety continues and remains strong, we must inspire each other to higher levels of achievement and be actively involved in professional communities such as ASSE. 

To fully realize our potential to influence outcomes on a global scale, we must continue to reshape our profession by connecting OSH to business success; helping key stakeholders see the wisdom of considering safety in the decision-making process; and elevating the knowledge, skills and abilities of OSH professionals everywhere. After all, we are key business partners who contribute to financial, nonfinancial and operational success.

We sit squarely at the forefront of a great global advancement in OSH, an advancement that will literally change the world. As leaders of the OSH profession, we must proactively pursue our goals, continue our collaborative partnerships with organizational leaders, advance leading-edge concepts, and clearly, forcefully and repeatedly articulate the unparalleled value that only qualified OSH professionals can deliver. Let’s continue, together, to write history.

From ASSE.