Despite the fact that the interest in occupational safety continues to grow as an overall business improvement strategy, American Society of Safety Engineers'' (ASSE) officials are troubled that the number of students pursuing degrees in occupational safety, health and environmental management has dropped significantly over the past two years.
In its ongoing efforts to increase student interest in the safety field, the ASSE Board of Directors recently approved the formation of an Academics Practice Specialty focusing on the needs and objectives of safety, health and environmental academics.
The Academics Practice Specialty will serve as a vehicle to notify ASSE senior leadership of progressive issues impacting students and important education issues and will also hold a seat on the ASSE Professional Education and Standards Committee (PESC).
The PESC is the committee that recommends policy and actions about issues impacting the education of safety professionals at the collegiate level and accreditation through the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).
"It is absolutely unthinkable that we refuse this challenge. We need to do more to safeguard the future of the safety profession, especially in light of the fact of our ongoing commitment to protecting people, property and the environment," said Kathy Seabrook, ASSE''s vice president of the Council on Practices (CoPS).
"The establishment of the Academics Practice Specialty lays the groundwork for seasoned safety professionals to work with students and faculty on issues important to the profession and to help ensure the future success of students. One of the best ways to do this is to provide high-caliber services to our educators, and this Practice Specialty will allow us to do just that." Additionally, the ASSE Academics Practice Specialty will be surveying college and university academicians this fall seeking input and suggestions on what can be done to interest students in the safety profession.
"One of our hopes is that the Academics Practice Specialty will provide the insights needed to ensure that government agencies are aware of the current crisis we are facing in this profession," ASSE President Eddie Greer said. "The recent National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health publication, ''Safe Work in the 21st Century,'' clearly indicates that we, as a whole profession and society, need to do more to encourage young people to enter these challenging disciplines. The Academics Practice Specialty can go a long way in assisting us to meet these challenges."
In addition to the Academics Practice Specialty, ASSE has 12 other practice specialties in the areas of construction, consultants, engineering environmental, healthcare, industrial hygiene, international, management, mining, public sector, risk management/insurance and transportation.
These groups provide ASSE members additional professional development opportunities; a forum for discussion of best practices strategies and research; to influence relevant programs for professional certification; and ASSE technical standard development.
by Virginia Sutcliffe