Key Takeaways

  • It is critical for safety professionals to change the paradigm of looking first to PPE as an easy solution to any workplace hazard.

  • Safety professionals must start using that which makes the profession marketable and useful by working with production and maintenance to find creative ways of reducing the hazard or eliminating it altogether, instead of only using PPE to work around the hazard, thereby stalling the process at the least effective level of the hierarchy of controls.

The safety management role has grown exponentially more important in today's workforce. Regardless of the specific professional title this function holds, a safety professional's objectives and reasons for being employed remain the same. An OSH professional's primary goal is to ensure safe working conditions for employees and the workplace. Through establishing policies, plans, procedures and gaining company participation, a safety professional aims to reduce injuries while maintaining productivity.

According to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, 2019a), overall employment of OSH specialists and technicians is projected to grow 8% between 2016 and 2026. Industries that show an increasing number of these jobs include construction, manufacturing, petroleum, management, scientific fields and technical consulting services. With the development of technology, a changing workforce and fast-paced work environments, employers look to OSH professionals to establish safety management systems. Among a safety professional's primary responsibilities is abating hazards by following the hierarchy of controls; however, it seems that some practitioners have turned the hierarchy of controls model on its head.

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