THE FIELD OF SAFETY is difficult to define. The safety profession has grown to include health, fire protection, insurance, behavior, management, systems, law enforcement, environmental, legal, industrial hygiene, engineering, disease control and other functions. Safety professionals come from many different backgrounds. Considerable discussion has surrounded what it means to be a safety engineer (Haight, Brauer, Stickle, et al., 2005). The term safety engineer is also difficult to define because it is frequently used to describe many safety functions that may or may not involve engineering. Safety engineering has also been defined as the application of scientific and engineering principles to the elimination of hazards (Brauer, 1990). Many safety professionals use the title of safety engineer even though they may not have engineering training. Some within the engineering community also debate whether all engineers are safety engineers and whether safety engineering is a separate engineering discipline. Educational and licensure requirements for safety engineers are also a topic of much discussion. While the definition of safety, safety professional and safety engineer may be unclear, it is clear that the safety engineering profession has the knowledge, skills, experience and insight to advance a national/global strategy to control hazards both inside and outside the workplace through engineering design. NIOSH has a national Prevention Through Design (PtD) initiative aimed at reducing/eliminating workplace injuries, fatalities and disease. In addition, the OSHA Alliance Program has been working on Design for Construction Safety, an initiative to reduce construction injuries and fatalities through engineering design. The same safety engineering principles being promoted by these efforts can be applied to consumer safety as well.
Safety is a multidisciplinary field requiring broad knowledge in areas such as the physical, chemical, biological and behavioral sciences, mathematics and engineering. Safety professionals come from a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate degree programs, including biology, chemistry, management, psychology, occupational safety and health, and engineering. However, a large percentage of safety professionals are not engineers nor do they have engineering training. [Editor's note: About 1,250 of ASSE's 30,000 members report that they have a P.E. license.] Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP, 2008) defines a safety professional as: … a person engaged in the prevention of accidents, incidents and events that harm people, property or the environment. They use qualitative and quantitative analysis of simple and complex products, systems, operations and activities to identify hazards. They evaluate the hazards to identify what events can occur and the likelihood of occurrence, severity of results, risk (a combination of probability and severity) and cost. They identify what controls are appropriate and their cost and effectiveness. Safety professionals make recommendations to managers, designers, employers, government agencies and others. Controls may involve administrative controls (such as plans, policies, procedures, training, etc.) and engineering controls (such as safety features and systems, fail-safe features, barriers and other forms of protection). Safety professionals may manage and implement controls. Besides knowledge of a wide range of hazards, controls and safety assessment methods, safety professionals must have knowledge of physical, chemical, biological and behavioral sciences, mathematics, business, training and educational