Editor's Note: A sense of community
I attended my first National Safety Council Congress & Expo in 2001, when I had been on the job at Safety+Health for less than a year.
Before that, I was assistant editor at a health care publishing company, working on a magazine about long-term care facilities. Although the trade shows I’d attended as part of that job had taught me valuable lessons (for one, don’t buy new shoes and try to break them in during the event), they didn’t prepare me for the size and scale of Congress & Expo. I remember leaving the packed Opening Session in a flowing crowd of people, passing rows and rows of classrooms where Technical Sessions were about to take place, and walking through the doors of the Expo Floor and coming to a halt – my head turning one way and then the other as I took it all in.
The four days I spent in Atlanta also gave me my first true experience with the occupational safety and health community. I know that many of you safety pros operate as one-person departments for your employer, and I also know from commenters to one of S+H’s recent online polls – in which we asked, “When people ask what you do for a living and you say you’re a safety pro, how many people know what that means?” – that some people still think of you as the “safety cop” out to interfere in workers’ lives.
I’m sure it’s disheartening. Happily, a number of the poll comments also show that you know what you do is important. I hope you can attend this year’s Congress & Expo, and that your time at the event provides both a feeling of belonging and a strengthened sense of pride in what you do – that you’re part of a noble endeavor. Because you are. As always, I tip my hat to all of you. Hope to see you in San Diego.