Editor's Note

Editor's Note: The role of enforcer

I know some people don’t believe in the effect of birth order on personality and behavior, but I’m a middle child who exhibits many of the classic traits, including that of peacemaker – both inside and outside the family.

My sister, who’s almost four years older than I, bravely changed careers in her 40s and is now an elementary school teacher. She loves the job, and the notes and hugs she receives from her students make it clear they love her. But it’s also easy to tell that she’s an eldest child.

She and I were talking on the phone a few evenings ago, and I listened with mouth agape as she blithely relayed how – to impress upon her students the lesson of “Why Punctuation Matters” – she displayed the digital version of Safety+Health on the whiteboard at the front of the class, enlarged my photo to what sounded like grotesque proportions, and told them her sister edits a magazine and gets upset and angry when people don’t use commas and periods correctly.

It’s the first time – to my knowledge – that my image has been used to intimidate children. Typically I visit my sister’s classroom at least once every school year, but now that I’ve unwillingly been assigned the role of enforcer, I have a feeling that, come next May, I’ll take a pass on making a presentation at Career Day 2017.

Enforcement was on S+H readers’ minds when, prompted by our most recent poll, they graded the outgoing Obama administration on its accomplishments regarding occupational safety and health. Several alluded to the “New Sheriff in Town” enforcement push, believing it simply didn’t work – with more than one claiming it set back OSHA-employer relations 10 to 20 years.

I write this only days after the 2016 presidential election took place, the results carrying the prospect of substantial change in the government’s stance on worker safety and health. Will we see the return of the emphasis on compliance assistance and partnerships that so many of the poll responders seemed to call for? Stay tuned.

Melissa J. Ruminski 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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