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“We have 15 risk-related sessions at Safety 2013,” says incoming American Society of Safety Engineers’ President Kathy A. Seabrook, CSP, president of Global Solutions, Inc. “You are right to think ‘risk’ is a focus for the safety profession.“

In addition, the ASSE Risk Assessment Institute will be launched this Wednesday, June 26th, at a special ballroom meeting from 5:50-7:30 pm. The mission of the RA Institute is to educate the business community on the role of the safety professional in the risk assessment process and provide safety professionals with the training, tools and resources necessary to perform risk assessments.

ASSE’s Safety 2013 runs from Tuesday, June 25 through Thursday, June 27 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The meeting got underway today with the society’s House of Delegates membership meeting, day-long pre-conference safety training seminars, and the opening expo reception from 3-5 pm.

Why the focus on risk?

Here are excerpts from Seabrook’s inaugural president’s speech:

“Today, our profession is moving away from a compliance only focus to the identification and management of SH&E risk to our organizations.  

“That is why SH&E professionals are transitioning to broader language for identifying hazards and controls. Business leaders recognize the term Risk to identify any impact on a business or organization; it is the “language of Business.”   CEOs, CFOs, Boards of Directors, the investment community and the operational side of an organization understand Risk.  Therefore, promoting broader skill sets, such as risk assessment, is not only aligned with the reality of what safety professionals do – it also helps to dispel the notion that safety professionals are only concerned with compliance.

“The business community is increasingly aware of the overall value of risk assessment and management to operations.  The corporate world has seen an increase in risk-related activities, including the use of risk assessments, enterprise-risk management initiatives and governance, reporting and transparency compliance initiatives.  This is an opportunity for our profession to demonstrate our value in this capacity.

“Risk assessment is a way for safety professionals to more effectively demonstrate our value to business organizations.”

More on risk

The ASSE standards group is Secretariat for the new risk-related ASSE/ANSI standard on prevention-through-design, and the administrator of the US Technical Advisory Group for the ISO 31000 Risk Management standard. 

Let’s don’t go overboard in hyping risk, former ASSE President Terrie Norris tells ISHN. We joked that risk was replacing “culture” as the topic du jour.

“I don’t believe that ‘risk’ has replaced ‘culture,’ says Norris. “The risk subjects you mention are simply tools that support a prevention culture. The tools of safety have evolved since the early days of code enforcement in 1912, as has the safety profession. The safety professional is no longer focused only on employee safety. Our expanded role includes occupational health, environmental protection, and security.

“We look to control both internal and external risks from an operational standpoint, as well as, third party and other hazards. Each tool has a role to play in preventing losses. Assessing risk is necessary to finding the right tool to control or eliminate the identified risks. Assessing risk helps us raise the level of awareness within our organizations, and through awareness and control we create a prevention culture.”