The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) says it’s ready to use its network of members and stakeholders to help address fatal occupational injuries that increased for the third straight year according to newly released data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The data showed that there were 5,190 workplace fatalities in the United States in 2016, up 7 percent from 2015. The fatal injury rate per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers rose from 3.4 to 3.6 in the same period.

“We know that more employers need to shift from a compliance-based approach to a risk-based strategy when addressing safety concerns,” said ASSE President Jim Smith, M.S., CSP. When that consistently occurs, we’ll see reductions in the fatal workplace injury rate across the country.”

ASSE’s efforts to produce safer work environments by helping to strengthen the role of the occupational safety and health professional include:

  • The formation of aHispanic Outreach Working Group to take steps toward multiple strategic objectives, including improved workplace safety for the vulnerable Hispanic population. A key component of this approach is raising awareness of the safety issues affecting this population through education for ASSE members as well as outreach to the Hispanic community.
  • A research workshop involving dozens of industry leaders that focused on 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.”
  • ASSE also crafted an “OSHA Reform Blueprint” that detailed its vision for OSHA. 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.