The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) says it is “encouraged” after seeing newly released data that shows a continued decrease in occupational injuries and illnesses, but thinks even more can be done to protect workers.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Nov. 9 that workplace injuries and illnesses at private industry employers were down by 48,500 cases in 2016 compared to the previous year. The injury rate per 100 full-time equivalent workers dropped from 3.0 to 2.9, marking the fourth straight year the rate has decreased.
“It’s great news to see the numbers on a downward path, and that’s our objective as a leading safety society,” said ASSE President Jim Smith, M.S., CSP. “At the same time, we know that more employers in every industry need to shift from a compliance-based approach to a risk-based strategy when addressing safety concerns. When that consistently occurs across the board, we’ll see the workplace injury statistics decline at a faster rate.”
ASSE has been involved in three recent efforts to produce safer work environments by helping to strengthen the role of the occupational safety and health professional.
In early November, ASSE brought together dozens of industry leaders and safety experts for a research workshop, knowing that additional scientific studies and a broad sharing of existing data are needed by safety and health practitioners to better protect workers. Attendees discussed the needs of safety and health researchers, identified gaps in current research, and explored how new studies could help generate solutions in various business settings.
“Putting more evidence-based data into the hands of safety professionals will enable them to better design and execute safety and health management programs, which keep people alive and healthy on the job,” Smith said.
In September, ASSE joined more than 40 organizations around the globe in the landmark signing of the Singapore Accord. Spearheaded by the International Network of Safety and Health Practitioner Organizations, the Accord presents a global capability framework for the occupational safety and health professional that will raise competencies and increase the effectiveness of the role. The framework defines the roles, skills, knowledge and qualifications recommended for university-educated safety professionals and vocationally trained practitioners. It is viewed as a cornerstone of stimulating preventive actions and improving workplace safety.
“Having competent professionals practicing and promoting injury prevention is a key element in managing risk,” Smith said. “The global capability framework raises the bar and redefines the value of the safety professional.”
In May, ASSE crafted an “OSHA Reform Blueprint” that detailed its vision for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The proposal called for reforms to emphasize the management of risk, focus the agency’s efforts on the leading causes of fatalities, and fill legislative and regulatory gaps that limit OSHA’s ability to better protect workers. With more than 100 years of experience in safety leadership, ASSE seeks a collaborative approach to shift OSHA’s mission from solely managing compliance to more effectively reducing workplace risks. Requiring every employer to adopt a safety and health management program would help achieve that goal.
“ASSE is constantly looking for ways to advance the occupational safety and health profession while improving injury prevention around the world,” Smith said. “These latest initiatives have enabled us to take big strides toward those important goals.”
About ASSE – Working together for a safer, stronger future
For more than 100 years, the American Society of Safety Engineers has been at the forefront of helping occupational safety and health professionals protect people and property. The nonprofit society is based in the Chicago suburb of Park Ridge. Its global membership of over 37,000 professionals covers every industry, developing safety and health management plans that prevent deaths, injuries and illnesses. ASSE advances its members and the safety profession through education, advocacy, standards development and a professional community. Its flagship publication, Professional Safety, is a longtime leader in the field. Visit www.asse.org and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.