As I write this first President’s Message, I find myself reflecting on who we are and what we contribute as safety professionals. I have heard many OSH professionals say that what we do is not a job, it is a noble calling. As safety professionals, we take immense pride in knowing that our work’s primary purpose is to prevent people from being injured or made sick from their work.
While the inherent value of a career in safety is a powerful motivator, it is not the only thing that brings people to and keeps people in our profession. As a 2011 NIOSH study indicated, there will be an undersupply of safety professionals in future years, especially as more organizations come to recognize how OSH professionals contribute to overall business success. We are also hearing that graduates from safety degree programs are receiving multiple job offers at competitive salaries. So, the word is out that being an OSH professional is a rewarding career in many ways.
However, having worked in safety for more than 40 years, I can definitively say that just because OSH jobs often provide a high degree of satisfaction it does not mean that they are easy. Not every employer or manager understands the full benefit of providing for a safe workplace. As a result, we will need to fight some battles, and we will likely not always escape unscathed. However, our metaphorical wounds will heal. The same cannot always be said for people who are injured or become ill as a result of the work they perform. For them, we soldier on.
As OSH professionals and members of ASSE, we form a dedicated, passionate community that shares a mission to protect others. ASSE has been a vital partner in my professional development and career progression. My ASSE network has yielded lifelong friends, provided career mentors and introduced professional colleagues who have freely shared their knowledge and lessons learned.
Based on this experience, one of my prime goals for the next year is to ensure that future ASSE members have access to many and diverse networking opportunities. Changes in the world and society are transforming how people network. For many long-term members, local chapter meetings and activities have historically been a primary networking opportunity. Today, however, social networking has created many channels in which ASSE members can interact. While some members continue to embrace monthly chapter gatherings, others prefer more virtual connections that overcome time and geographic limitations. Still others prefer to engage with their peers based on their technical specialties or their common interests.
Given these trends, our challenge as a multigenerational, global Society is to establish and support many platforms through which members can have meaningful, productive interactions that help them establish lasting professional connections. That is why ASSE’s board of directors has identified member communities as a strategic focus and will continue to identify ways to improve ASSE processes to enable our more than 37,000 members to engage in the Society in ways that best meet their needs.
As a member-focused society, ASSE works to provide multiple pathways for members to experience value when they join the ASSE community. Whether you derive the greatest value from networking, from educational opportunities, from access to standards-development processes, from technical exchanges or from myriad other member benefits, ASSE is the common bond that connects us and helps us promote our profession and improve our practice as we strive to protect others.
I am proud to be an OSH professional and an ASSE member. I look forward to working with ASSE’s board, our volunteer leaders and all of you to advance the Society, promote the profession and elevate the practice of safety. Workers around the world are counting on us.