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Workplace Injuries Decline, ASSE Wants Further Improvements
December 4, 2017

The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) is encouraged after seeing newly released data that shows a continued decrease in occupational injuries and illnesses, but the world’s oldest professional safety organization knows even more can be done to protect workers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported November 9th that workplace injuries and illnesses at private industry employers were down by 48,500 cases in 2016 compared to the previous year. The injury rate per 100 full-time equivalent workers dropped from 3.0 to 2.9, marking the fourth straight year the rate has decreased.

“It’s great news to see the numbers on a downward path, and that’s our objective as a leading safety society,” said ASSE President Jim Smith, M.S., CSP. “At the same time, we know that more employers in every industry need to shift from a compliance-based approach to a risk-based strategy when addressing safety concerns. When that consistently occurs across the board, we’ll see the workplace injury statistics decline at a faster rate.”

ASSE, which has more than 37,000 members worldwide, has been involved in three recent efforts to produce safer work environments by helping to strengthen the role of the occupational safety and health professional.

In early November, ASSE brought together dozens of industry leaders and safety experts for a research workshop, knowing that additional scientific studies and a broad sharing of existing data are needed by safety and health practitioners to better protect workers. Attendees discussed the needs of safety and health researchers, identified gaps in current research, and explored how new studies could help generate solutions in various business settings.

In September, ASSE joined more than 40 organizations around the globe in the landmark signing of the Singapore Accord. Spearheaded by the International Network of Safety and Health Practitioner Organizations, the Accord presents a global capability framework for the occupational safety and health professional that will raise competencies and increase the effectiveness of the role. The framework defines the roles, skills, knowledge and qualifications recommended for university-educated safety professionals and vocationally trained practitioners. It is viewed as a cornerstone of stimulating preventive actions and improving workplace safety.

In May, ASSE crafted an “OSHA Reform Blueprint” that detailed its vision for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The proposal called for reforms to emphasize the management of risk, focus the agency’s efforts on the leading causes of fatalities, and fill legislative and regulatory gaps that limit OSHA’s ability to better protect workers. With more than 100 years of experience in safety leadership, ASSE seeks a collaborative approach to shift OSHA’s mission from solely managing compliance to more effectively reducing workplace risks. Requiring every employer to adopt a safety and health management program would help achieve that goal.

“ASSE is constantly looking for ways to advance the occupational safety and health profession while improving injury prevention around the world,” Smith said. “These latest initiatives have enabled us to take big strides toward those important goals.”

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