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Editor's Note

Editor's Note: Defining ‘world class’

March 24, 2014

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We hear the phrase a lot. It has been used in this magazine and within the organization that publishes it. For me, the term had become something written and read almost without thought as a synonym for excellence. But what exactly does it mean? Do certain widely accepted parameters or measures make a safety program “world class,” or is it something organizations bestow upon themselves?

Although I’ve been pondering this for a while, it really hit me a few weeks ago when I attended a meeting of the committee that selects the technical sessions for the National Safety Council’s annual Congress & Expo. By allowing me to sit in, this group of researchers and safety professionals provides me with a great opportunity to learn about emerging issues, spot trends and find experts on certain topics.

As the committee went through the 300-plus session proposals, the copyeditor in me spotted repeated use of “world-class safety.” Taking advantage of the fact that I was in a room with a group of in-the-field safety pros, I asked if they believed an article exploring the term was warranted. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive, and after the meeting concluded I met with Associate Editor Ashley Johnson and asked her to start digging.

We know we won’t be breaking new ground here – other publications have covered the topic. But the encouragement I received during the meeting – and the 87 percent of people who responded “yes” to a poll on the Safety+Health website asking, “Is the term ‘world-class safety’ overused?” – tells me it’s worth looking into. 

Is consensus on “world-class safety” possible? Do you have a firm opinion on what a world-class safety program includes? If you’d like to weigh in, now’s your chance. Feel free to email me or Ashley to share your thoughts, and look for the article later this year.

The opinions expressed in “Editor’s Note” do not necessarily reflect those of the National Safety Council or affiliated local Chapters.

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