ESG, Faces of EHS, Technology and Innovation

Faces of EHS: Checking In with Allison Short

Allison Short, CSP, CIT, is a highly competent safety professional with nearly 10 years of experience in general industry and higher education. After beginning her safety career at PowerSecure, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Southern Company, Allison is now a Safety and Health Specialist for Auburn University and a co-host of the “Safety Justice League” podcast.

She is pursuing a master’s degree in Industrial-Organizational Psychology from Auburn University and holds volunteer leadership roles with American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP), including ChapterWISE Liaison for the Alabama ASSP Chapter and ChapterWISE Co-Chair for the ASSP WISE Advisory Committee. Allison believes respect, education, and curiosity are imperative components of workplace safety.

For our latest Faces of EHS profile, we sat down once again with Allison to discuss how her career grew in 2022 and her safety predictions for the coming year.

Q: How was your 2022?

2022 was a whirlwind of work and development, both personally and professionally. I continued my work at Auburn University and enrolled in Auburn’s Industrial and Organizational Psychology master’s degree program. In October, I joined the Safety Justice League podcast, as a co-host and partner.

Additionally, I joined the ASSP Women in Safety Excellence (WISE) advisory committee, serving as the ChapterWISE Co-Chair for local WISE chapters across the United States and the world. I was also named the ChapterWISE Liaison for the Alabama ASSP Chapter and had the joy of starting a local WISE chapter in Alabama, with a brilliant steering committee of colleagues dedicated to supporting women in our industry.

Q: How have you grown as a safety professional in the last year?

This year, I developed my industrial hygiene skills and expanded my knowledge of hazardous building materials. I became an accredited asbestos inspector and completed continuing education in asbestos in buildings, mold assessment, and art/theater safety.

Safety is often overlooked in art and theater, especially from the industrial hygiene angle. Monona Rossol, a titan in the industrial hygiene field, led the art safety course, and pushed my boundaries of safety, to extend beyond “standard work” and encompass the realistic hazards of workplace exposures for every worker.

Q: How has your career in EHS changed?

This year, I focused on building relationships. I dedicated time to in-person inspections and site visits, speaking with my colleagues and building rapport. In 2022, I had the opportunity to meet many of my network connections in-person. I attended ASSP Safety 2022 in Chicago, connecting and learning with the ASSP community, and making lasting friendships with WISE and the Safety Justice League podcast community.

By October, I joined the Safety Justice League, LLC as a partner and podcast co-host. Our podcast creates silly, entertaining content, but we also generate true community for our listeners. It is vulnerable to put my voice into the world on a consistent basis, but this action reflects my career in EHS: I am more fully stepping into the work I do well, as a strategic thinker, dedicated trainer, public speaker, and relationship builder.    

Q: What are some of your 2023 safety predictions? What new EHS trends, such as ESG, new technologies, etc., are you excited about?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released their data for fatal work injuries in 2021, citing the highest fatal injury rate since 2016 (USDL-22-2309). This data highlights the need for our work but pointing to the increased rates with charts alone is insufficient. Often, safety professionals operate with lean teams, solving their workplace’s recurring injuries on a limited budget, while also maintaining records and identifying new trends in both their workplace and in the industry overall. It can be overwhelming, especially when the latest data is trending in the wrong direction.

In my original article, I noted the increased conversation around Total Worker Health® and holistic safety programs. Throughout 2022, this conversation continued. I read articles on psychological safety and mental health as a component of safe work. There was a push to consider mental and emotional health, along with physical health. As you suggested, ESG, AI, and even the safety “multiverse” became trending topics for our industry. Again, the potential scope of these trending topics is vast, and the implementation is likely outside the scope of work for safety professionals alone.

There is hope, though. I recently read “The Way of Integrity” by Dr. Martha Beck, and she recommends taking “one-degree turns” toward alignment with your truest self. If we put that idea in practice with our work as safety professionals, solving the uptick in fatal injury rates for 2022 for the United States begins with one small action today. Maybe you schedule a site visit, call a client, or reassess your safety budget. These small steps turn us one-degree toward actively improving safety for our workplaces. Those daily one-degree turns will turn into radical improvement and engagement at your workplace and beyond.   

Q: Where do you see yourself in another year?

As I look toward the year ahead, I hope 2023 is filled with opportunities to learn, to connect with new people, and to grow as a safety professional. In 2024, I will graduate with my master’s degree in Industrial and Organizational Psychology, and I cannot wait to celebrate that achievement.