The future of safety

How will the COVID-19 pandemic change the field of occupational safety and health?

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Carl Heinlein

Senior safety consultant
American Contractors Insurance Group

I do think it will have, hopefully, a positive impact on our profession. Why I say that is I as we go through this pandemic together, I’ve watched a number of my colleagues – both seasoned and new to the profession – really stepping to the front of organizations, providing their C-suites, boards and leadership teams with clear and concise answers for moving forward. Opening their businesses, continuing to work. Not only on the jobs but preparing for jobs, reopening them, but also trying to educate their fellow employees about being safe and healthful at home, as well. So I think there’s a number of things that I’ve seen, and that’s a great deal of collaboration, … a great deal of opportunity for all safety and health professionals to really show their true stripes, leadership, being resourceful, helping share their communications, their experience.

And then also with this pandemic, which is always something that we love to say we all have the answers, I think honesty is the key. It’s tough to say the word “no” or “I don’t know,” but I’m watching a lot of folks out there saying, “I don’t know, and we may not know, but here’s our best thought on how to address this.” I don’t think anyone has all the answers, but it’s great to see the safety and health professionals really working collaboratively … and I think it will continue.

So as we look into the future, I see this continued collaboration. I think there’s going to be processes and procedures that we have discovered along the way and they will be maintained for not only the short haul, but I think for the long term. And I think that the speed of learning has been tremendously impressive on the really unprecedented issues that we’re dealing with.

In a terrible pandemic, I think the opportunities that have presented themselves to my fellow professionals have been a great challenge, but also a great opportunity. And I’m really proud to see that my profession is really stepping up to try to really help organizations get back up and running, not only safely but productively, and putting out a quality product, so it all goes hand in hand.”


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