DES PLAINES, IL - In his Monday address to attendees at the Canadian Society of Safety Engineering's (CSSE) conference in Calgary, Alberta, American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) President C. Christopher Patton, CSP, discussed how safety, health and environmental (SH&E) professionals are weathering the difficult economic times and how businesses could lose in productivity, efficiency and profitability without safety.
"We are facing difficult economic times," Patton said in his address to the CSSE conference audience. "The economy struggles to recover and employers are increasingly tight with budgets. Layoffs and cutbacks have affected many of our members.
"There are SH&E professionals losing jobs due to reductions in force and plant closures," Patton continued. "ASSE is diligently delivering the message to employers and the public that SH&E professionals are not expendable. Safety should not be the place to look for reductions. In fact, a company can have significant competitive advantage by continuing to invest in SH&E during the hard times. This will reinforce their positive company image so when the economy does improve, they will recover quickly."
Patton went on to say that companies have seen that an investment in safety has a positive impact on the bottom line and noted that letting these systems fall apart means losses in efficiency, productivity and profitability. Therefore, maintaining these systems during a struggling economy is critical to survival.
"In order for a safety manager to be successful today, they must understand how they contribute to their organization, and how to sell the value add proposition to their employer," Patton said. "This means understanding the business and the language that goes along with that. It means integrating safety into everyone's roles and responsibilities so that it is viewed as a value, not a task.
"On another note, the U.S. has a relatively new administration and a new regulatory mindset. Enforcement… STRONG enforcement seems to be the message we hear," Patton continued. "Our Occupational Safety and Health Administration will set the bar high and will help ensure all employers are providing a safe and healthful place of employment. For our members, and for you who are attending this conference, you know that good management systems, good risk control programs, will take you far beyond compliance. You should be commended."
Patton noted that one of our key partnerships is with the members of the Canadian Society of Safety Engineering through the North American Occupational Safety and Health (NAOSH) Week efforts held each May.
"We salute you and look forward to continuing to work together throughout the year on all issues that affect work safety, health, and the environment," Patton concluded.
Founded in 1911, the Des Plaines, IL-based ASSE is the largest and oldest professional safety society and is committed to protecting people, property and the environment. Its more than 32,000 occupational safety, health and environmental professional members lead, manage, supervise, research and consult on safety, health, transportation and environmental issues in all industries, government, labor, health care and education. For a complete copy of Patton's speech please go to www.asse.org/newsroom.