Another happy hump day to you…

RECESSION, WHAT RECESSION? American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) media maestro Diane Hurns reports Tuesday, June 15, the ASSE Baltimore Professional Development Conference had 3,600 attendees. This is the second-largest attendance ever, second only to the 2008 Las Vegas PDC with 3,859. ASSE has been holding PDCs since 1968 — when 145 pioneering pros showed up on the campus of Michigan State.

The ASSE Baltimore 2010 Expo held in conjunction with the PDC broke a record and is ASSE's largest ever with 61,600 square feet sold and 399 exhibitors.

RECESSION PART 2 Driving more than one conversation among pros at the ASSE meeting was concerns about jobs, job, jobs. Pros are no different than U.S. consumers, who are holding back on spending out of concern for jobs, jobs, jobs.

Every safety and health pro probably knows a peer out of work, worries about his or her own company’s future cost-cutting, or is out of work themselves.

Another worry: The jobs that are out there to be had many times are at a lower salary.

BIG PICTURE WORRY: If bigger paying EHS jobs are going away, and more and more aspects of safety programs become automated with software programs, who is going to be interested in coming into the safety and health field in the future? Safety isn’t sexy. But it is being dumbed down, with more chores handled by line employees, techies, and temp contractors.

WHO’S NEXT? Along the same lines, our friendly competitors at EHS Today published a list of the 50 most influential people in occ safety and health. They got the right gurus, researchers, legislators, policymakers. But are any under 45 years of age? Most probably come in at the 50-60-year-old demographic. The profession needs an infusion of new thinking, new thought leaders. They are out there, but not visible on the national stage. Associations such as ASSE and the American Industrial Hygiene Association groom future leaders in gatherings and mentoring programs, but should do more to tell us who they are and what the newbies are thinking and doing.


Last year at the ASSE national meeting Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and acting OSHA boss Jordan Barab came on strong, using the meeting to launch the message that OSHA the cop is back on the beat (first said by Labor Secretary Elizabeth Dole during the Bush 41 term in the late ‘80s).

This year, OSHA honcho Dr. David Michaels cut a less intimidating figure giving his speech to the ASSE crowd. The words were pretty much the same, but Dr. Michaels comes across as a rather informal academic. Don’t be fooled; he’s ready to fight for what he wants.

And he’ll have a serious fight on his hands, possibly in 2011 or whenever OSHA gets around to actually proposing the injury and illness prevention program. It’s Dr. Michaels’ number one priority. The idea is to require employers to find and fix hazards.

Well, when employers examine their OSHA injury logs, now including a breakout of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), they will find they have numerous ergo hazards. At least many will. Then employers will go out and fix the ergo hazards. Isn’t that a de facto ergo standard? The fight will erupt when the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers get a whiff of the ergo elements of the proposal.