In her opening address at ASSP's Safety 2020 conference, President Diana Stegall jumped headfirst into discussing the current public health crisis.
The event shifted to a virtual platform following the rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent travel restrictions to prevent transmission.
"As I deliver this message from home instead of from a large stage from Orlando, it’s hard not to think about how much our world has changed over the past few months," she said via prerecorded video.
She continued, "From a worldwide pandemic to a stay-at-home orders to large nationwide protests over systemic inequities. It’s been an unpredictable year for sure."
Despite the adversity most of the world is facing, Stegall lauded safety professionals for their "resilience and unwavering dedication" to protecting America's workers and communities.
She also discussed the society's tenure that has lasted more than a century, despite many disruptive events.
"It’s our adaptability that will enable us to emerge from our newest challenges as a stronger organization, but there’s no doubt that ASSP, our members and our profession will be fundamentally changed," Stegall said.
While it is easy to focus on the negative, safety professionals in every industry are currently in the spotlight as senior leadership looks to them for the next move in keeping employees safe and business operations running smoothly.
Stegall explained emphatically, "it’s important to look at the potential that the pandemic has created for safety professionals in every industry. Now is the time to show our versatility and value to senior leaders. Now is the time to show we are more than compliance agents and that we understand how safety impacts the entire business operation. Now is the time to show that we know what is needed to keep employees safe and healthy in our new normal. Now is our time."
The role of the safety professional is ever crucial, and safety belongs at the table as an integral part of every business strategy.
That's why, Stegall said, safety professionals must "be nimble so we can respond quickly for our organizations and we must remain focused and informed to be that go-to source for senior leaders in complex situations."
Stegall closed her speech by thanking ASSP members and the safety community for continuing to keep workers safe and healthy.
"I’m proud to be part of a profession that adapts so readily to changing times and works so hard to make a difference in the world," she concluded.