ASSE president: Safety professionals are not expendable

Patton points to bottom-line savings if employers keep emphasis on worker safety


In a speech last week to the Canadian Society of Safety Engineering's conference in Calgary, Alberta, American Society of Safety Engineers president C. Christopher Patton said the job losses in the safety field in manufacturing could have a negative effect on safety, and be more costly than the workers being let go.
"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.
Patton told the group that ASSE is encouraged by the stronger workplace safety enforcement message from OSHA under the Obama Administration. "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."


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