The Consumate Safety Professional

What is a safety professional? Do we have a code of honor or professional conduct we abide by?

How many of you would stop and talk to a complete stranger because he was standing on the top two steps of a ladder? I did (see photo below). I did not yell, I did not raise my voice, I did not talk down to him, I simply stated that I was a safety professional and I noticed he was putting himself at risk and I did not want to see him get hurt. I asked him if he knew what he was doing wrong and he responded with a five minute conversation about OSHA and safety. He knew he was putting himself at risk, but he was just trying to get the job done. I then proceeded to ask him if he had a bigger ladder he could use and he said he did have one on his truck and that he would go and get it. He in fact did have one available for use and he got it and continued his work. Now he is safe and able to perform his duties without fear of harm (or at least less chance of injury). He even thanked me for pointing out his mistake and appreciated the fact that I said something.

The thing is if I had not intervened and something happened, would I be at fault? Would I have violated my oath as a safety professional involved and active in the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE)? I know I would not be able to look at myself and say I am a safety professional if that happened. Sometimes people are not trained in the proper way to work safely, other times they are just focused on their job and not paying attention. I believe that it is our job as safety professionals to step up and make a difference where we can and help to educate those who are not being given the opportunity to succeed and stay safe by their employers.

What would you do?

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