Are we the strongest profession? Are we going to survive in this ever changing world of business? Is our message confused or can we seek to find someway of moving the our aims and objectives forward? All relevant questions that I will seek to answer within this paper, I would however contend that we must be responsive that change or as a profession we shall become irrelevant. Change however does not mean abandoning our core values or beliefs, once those are truly identified and understood. It does mean however being adaptable, forward thinking and willing to take on new and exciting challenges.

It is useful to ensure that a working definition is made of the term ‘safety.’ Frank Bird and George Germain, (Practical Loss Control Management 1985), defined safety as being; The Control of Accidental Loss. Such a definition allows for a premise that a safety professional is therefore an individual that is working to control or reduce accident (or unplanned) loss to his employers business. This definition now some twenty plus years old still struggles to be embraced by many safety professionals. Many still believe that we have some altruistic higher calling, to save the employees engaged in the world of work from pain and suffering. As laudable as that may be, in our current and future working environments this is not a justification for undertaking our specific function or even part thereof. As a profession we must embrace the concept of ‘safety’ being a function of controlling the loss to our employing businesses.

According to Stewart et al (Handbook of Management Skills 2nd Edition 1991), Management involves achieving results through people.

It would therefore be correct to use as a working definition for the Safety professional that we are employed to reduce unplanned loss to the business by utilising the skills of other people. This is again a concept that many not only in our profession find difficult but also in the wider business community find hard to understand. During a recent unscientific survey conducted at a United Kingdom Safety professional branch meeting, the question was posed in respect of performance appraisals and objectives. 26% of those questioned had a business objective to reduce the accident rate in their respective businesses. Another 14% had objectives relating to reduction of loss time and a further 6% had some objective relating to reduction of loss in general.

The challenge must for our profession must therefore be to change the perception of what we do and how we do. We as a professional can not ‘do safety’ we can not be held accountable for loss to the business, that must be integral to the way in which the company does business. We can help, advise and assist in the identification of methods designed to meet the aim and end of the process. Related to this therefore must be the challenge must therefore be to recognise that fact.

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