I’ve been in the safety business for 45 years. I’ve read thousands of incident reports and I’ve found one consistent piece of advice in the corrective action section of at least half the reports—“I told (pick a name) to be more careful.”

I know what the writer is saying. “I don’t have a clue about what you should do next time, so do something, but not what you did before.” Don’t owners or managers or supervisors know any better?

Actually, they don’t. Most have had little or no exposure to the principles of safety management.

Yes, there are about 13,000 active Certified Safety Professionals and 6,250 Certified Industrial Hygienists. The American Society of Safety Engineers has 36,000 members and, between federal and state OSHA programs, there are 2,200 compliance officers. Some work for government or insurance companies or consulting organizations and the rest most likely work in companies of 500 or more employees. In the United States, there are about six million places of employment and only .3 percent have employment in excess of 500. This means that 5,982,000 workplaces employing about 77,850,000 people have no regular exposure to someone trained in occupational safety and health. There are also about 22 million additional workplaces with no employees, just an owner.

Some owners or managers or sole proprietors may have past experience with the concepts of safety management, but I worry about the high percentage of the one hundred million working alone or in small companies that are flying in a cloudbank of hazards with no instruments.

To reach them, enlist business associations, trade groups and chambers of commerce to make safety management training for all owners and executives mandatory for membership in the organization. Ask the ASSE to develop a common, universal safety management course.

Also, let’s ask the 196 colleges offering degrees in safety to approach their business schools about offering at least one safety management class as part of their core curriculum.


Chip Dawson is a safety management consultant retired from the U. S. Navy and Eastman Kodak Company.