By: Thomas Carson
September 10, 2019
Let’s Get Professional Together
With this Article, I Do Thee Wed
Well, out of respect for the charming Mrs. Carson, I wouldn’t actually consummate a marriage, but I will commit to be your partner in furthering your professional safety career.
I recently read a very thoughtful article in the Safety Science journal (published by Elsevier) titled, “A roadmap to professionalism: Advancing occupational safety & health practice as a profession in the United States”. In it, the authors chart the history of safety as a profession going back to 1920, working through the fits and starts of getting industry and government to accept that if you want safer workplaces, you must develop a cadre of educated, focused professionals who bring to the production process the consistent knowledge and skills to identify and manage workplace hazards.
That road is nearly 100 years long, but the pioneers, the professionals, the evangelists have largely succeeded in both getting companies to recognize that worker safety can be proactively managed as a part of their operations, AND elevating the safety professional from a legal and regulatory compliance technician to a critical part of the organizational risk management team.
How do we know this progress has been made? The worker fatality rate has dropped from 60 deaths per 100,000 workers in 1920 to 3.2 in 2015 and the reduction in workplace injuries has been even more dramatic. Not only is this positive from a worker’s perspective, but it is just good business practice – injuries are an enormous resource drain, a stain on a company’s reputation and often create a competitive disadvantage.
With respect to safety professionals, their role has been evolving from managing regulatory compliance to responsibility for organization-wide risk management through integrating EH&S processes and objectives into a broader organizational framework. As evidence of increased responsibility, the BCSP 2018 salary survey reported median base salary for safety professionals of $97,000/year, with nearly a quarter of respondents earning $125,000 or more.
I asked several of my colleagues in the safety industry just how many safety professionals have really stepped up to lead enterprise-wide risk management programs, or even participate meaningfully at a senior level. The general consensus was that this is not common, but it could be. I get what they are saying. All safety risk is organizational risk. In addition, many safety risks unchecked can boil over into far larger impact than the initial event if not well-managed. Look no further than the Deepwater Horizon disaster for an example of a safety incident gone horribly wrong at the enterprise level.
I have been lucky to have met a lot of incredibly talented safety professionals whose education, experience and passion for their jobs have prepared them well for the opportunities available to them. Stepping up to that level of responsibility requires systems that leverage your knowledge and experience – that act as a multiplier of your skills. Sospes has been committed to advancing the professional stature of safety professionals since our beginning. If you are looking for a “multiplier” to take your game to the next level, I hope you will call us – we would love to be a part of your success. Let’s get professional together!
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