Special Topics in Safety Management

ASSE: Latest Safety Stats Are Great, but Could Be Better

The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) is encouraged by recently released data showing a continued decline in job injuries and illnesses. But the society’s leaders are confident more can be done.

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The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported earlier this month that job injuries and illnesses at private industry workplaces were down by 48,500 cases in 2016, compared with 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.

While ASSE president Jim Smith called the retreating numbers “great news,” he added, “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.”

Smith says ASSE is committed to putting more evidence-based data into the hands of safety professionals. This, he says, will enable them to better design and execute safety and health management programs that keep people alive and healthy on the job.

In September, ASSE joined more than 40 organizations across the globe in the landmark signing of the Singapore Accord. It presents a framework for occupational safety and health professionals to raise competences and increase their effectiveness. The framework defines the roles, skills, knowledge, and qualifications recommended for safety pros. ASSE believes that having competent professionals practicing and promoting injury prevention is essential to managing risk.

ASSE has increasingly advocated a collaborative approach to shift OSHA’s mission from managing compliance to more effectively reducing workplace risk. One step toward that goal would be requiring every employer to adopt a safety and health management program.

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