Welcome to the September 2017 edition of the National Safety Council Community Safety Division Newsletter! Your involvement is very important to us and we’re looking forward to bringing you valuable information, updates and resources related to community safety. With so many important issues in our communities and off-the-job lives, our Division has an important role in the safety community and an even more important part in the world at large.
The Community Safety Division is happy to be moving forward with our strategic plan for 2017 and 2018. The Division had a great 2017, with the first recipients of the
Community Advancement Award announced at Congress and our development and maintenance of off-the-job safety materials for your use going strong. During the last two weeks in particular, we were able to develop and distribute very important materials regarding post-hurricane and post-flood safety, while remediating damaged property following the tragic natural disasters in Texas and Florida.
In other news, the Community Safety Division has openings on its leadership team. If anyone is interesting in joining a motivated and enthusiastic team with a goal to develop safety culture at home and in the community, just as we do at work, this is the place for you! We have openings for vice chair and secretary, as well as leadership and participant seats on committees. Please feel free to get in touch with Cory Worden at (832) 677-9821 or
email@example.com to get involved.
Finally, the Division is proud to announce that member Amber Johnson was named a 2017 NSC Rising Star, and member Haley Uhl received the 2017 Excellence in EHS Management award presented by the Institute for Safety and Health Management. Division Chair Cory Worden was named an Extraordinary Member for 2017 by the Association for Occupational Health Professionals.
It’s been a great year for the Community Safety Division, and we’ll continue this into 2018 with consistent conference calls, webinars, newsletters, publications, resources and the next year of applications for the Community Advancement Award. We look forward to working with you as we continue!
Forever, Whatever: Lt. Dan, Chronic Illness and Organizational Citizenship, Two Years Later
Cory Worden, M.S., CSHM, CSP, CHSP, ARM, REM, CESCO
From the Occupational Health and Safety and standpoint, we see all different types of perspectives and many different situations. In my case, not going to work, even with debilitating chronic illness and pain over a two-year span, was never an option until I physically couldn’t go.
My wife hates that about me; I’ll force myself out of bed and through the day even when knocking on death’s door. When the options are to deal with it and get the work done or to explain to myself why I backed down and let someone else take up my slack, I’d rather take the punishment.
Lt. Dan in “Forrest Gump” was Gump’s Army platoon leader in Vietnam who believed in predestination to the point that he believed it was his place in the world to die in combat. It is possible to take this concept to too far (‘Lt. Dan’ had a personal revelation that he had more to offer the world than to die in combat) and end up not doing anyone any good and also hurting ourselves.
Organizational citizenship is a concept in which we care so much about the service we provide that we’re willing to accept the possibilities – or realities – of burnout, injuries or exposures in the name of the job. However, it’s not only up to us to realize when and where to draw the line between organizational citizenship and self-punishment, but also for the organization itself to not use employees as catch-all, do-it-all tools.
Swiss Army Knives
The occupational health and safety professions are often misinterpreted. In many cases, either job has very clear functions, such as handling the administration of workplace injuries, filing OSHA logs, performing hazard analyses, implementing hazard controls, communicating safety procedures, investigating injuries and more. However, organizations often assume these functions are to be handled by occupational health and safety personnel without any involvement from anyone else.
For example, when the monthly injury log is reviewed at the monthly meeting, many in other departments (at times, the organizational senior leadership themselves) want to know why the safety pro or occupational health nurse cannot or did not single-handedly investigate all of the injuries him or herself. Not only is this is not possible in many cases, but it also removes the responsibility of knowing what injuries occurred in each department, how they happened and why.
Without the department leadership knowing these very important factors, there is no chance of preventing reoccurrence of injuries. When analyzing hazards associated with job tasks and implementing hazard controls, there is little or no chance of each department’s employees actually following the safe work procedures without their own leadership’s buy-in.
Ultimately, even with infinite organizational citizenship and individual willingness to go the extra mile (even at the expense of their own personal health), no occupational health or safety professional can single-handedly do it all. Not only will the job itself suffer (in which case employees will be at-risk and vulnerable for injuries and exposures) but these professionals will invariably reach the point of burnout and physical degradation in due time. No safety professional is a Swiss Army Knife and none of them can do it all.
Ultimately, dedication to one’s profession is a noble and honorable thing. Organizational citizenship is an honorable thing. However, these attributes have to be spread among the entire organization and upheld by the organization’s leadership. Not only will this prevent burnout of quality employees but it will optimize the safety culture of the organization as everyone will realize they have a part to play in it. With this, everyone wins. The alternative is no good for anyone.