Recently, EHS Today Senior Editor Laura Walter wrote an article, "Well-Paid and In Demand: Welcome to the EHS Profession," on the unprecedented growth of the EHS profession. As our profession continues to grow and evolve, it brings with it the potential for greater scrutiny. In light of this, it is critical that EHS professionals practice transparent, professional ethics.
As Mark Twain so famously said, “It is curious – curious that physical courage should be so common in the world, and moral courage so rare.” In an ever-changing and sometimes scandal-ridden professional landscape, the value of doing right thing sometimes is overridden by the ambition of getting ahead. This is where the practice of professional ethics must come into play.
The Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP) is one of the leading organizations of professional certification for environmental health and safety professionals. The BCSP grants the Certified Safety Professional (CSP), the Occupational Health and Safety Technologist (OHST), the Certified Loss Control Specialist (CLCS), the Construction Health and Safety Technician (CHST) and the Safety Trained Supervisor (STS) certifications.
Like most professional safety and health certifying organizations, the BCSP maintains a code of professional ethics in which their certification holders are required to adhere to. These include:
- Hold paramount the health and safety of people, property and the environment.
- Be honest, fair and impartial; act with responsibility and integrity.
- Issue public statements only in an objective and truthful manner and only when founded upon knowledge of the facts and competence in the subject matter.
- Undertake assignments only when qualified by education or experience in the specific technical fields involved.
- Avoid deceptive acts that falsify or misrepresent your academic or professional qualifications.
- Conduct your professional relations by the highest standards of integrity.
- Avoid compromises of your professional judgment by conflicts of interest.
- Act in a manner free of bias with regard to religion, ethnicity, gender, age, national origin, sexual orientation or disability.
- Seek opportunities to be of constructive service in civic affairs and work for the advancement of the safety, health and well-being of your community and your profession by sharing your knowledge and skills.
Although only a percentage of EHS professionals hold certifications through the BCSP and are thus required to adhere to the aforementioned principles, the spirit of ethics and transparency captured by these principles should be valued and practiced by all EHS professionals.
While the practice of professional ethics is not always innate in nature or easy to accomplish when facing pressure to do otherwise, it is necessary for the continued healthy progression of the EHS profession. Adhering to professional ethics not only will make for a more professional EHS practitioner, but it will make for a more dependable and respected landscape for all EHS professionals.