ASSE’s Risk Assessment Certificate Program Offers New Skills & Tools

Workplace situations and challenges are constantly evolving, and safety professionals must evolve along with them. To that end, ASSE is now offering a Risk Assessment Certificate Program. Risk assessment is a process that helps identify and prioritize workplace risks. “Compliance with any kind of standard does not give you prevention,” says Dee Woodhull, CSP, CIH, principal at MERCER. Woodhull is part of the committee that oversees ASSE’s Risk Assessment Institute. “The standards from OSHA represent compromises and consensus on issues—there’s no way [to specify] every single situation that people will find themselves in at work.”

Debuted at SeminarFest and slated for the upcoming Safety 2015 conference, the certificate program is a 40-hour program of continuing education and training in risk assessment. Participants must complete all 40 hours (4 CEUs) within 2 years to receive the certificate. The program involves a 3-day classroom risk assessment seminar. Upon completion, the participant will earn 2.1 CEUs. An additional 10 hours of electives will count as another CEU, with the final .9 awarded for the participant’s final project.

“A risk-centric approach looks for feasible alternatives for better and more redundant controls,” says Paul Esposito, CSP, CIH, an instructor in the program and another committee member. He is the president of STAR Consultants. “Key metrics are no longer just about incidents. Companies measure themselves against risk reduction goals, the number of new engineering controls, the ability to change a task so PPE is no longer required.”

The program is designed to help participants build their skills to match the level of risk assessment in industry today. “This helps you advance not only your career, but gives your organization confidence in your ability to help analyze the risks it is evaluating right now and into the future,” says Esposito. “Workshops are built in throughout, and a final project calibrates your learning to the current industry standard.”

For organizations that are apprehensive or slow to adopt the risk assessment process, Woodhull has suggestions that professionals can use to help usher it in. “Educating leadership is one of the key approaches,” she says. “[OSH professionals] need to educate their [organizations] that safety is an integral part of how a business is run. Good safety performance goes hand-in-hand with good profitability, productivity and management. Risk assessment is part of that.”

While the certificate program focuses on teaching participants a modern approach to risk assessment, it will also help participants prove value to potential employers and hiring managers. “A certificate is more than just attending a class,” says Pam Walaski, CSP, CHMM. She is regional manager for EHS Services at Compliance Management International and serves as a program instructor. “I think it’s a tremendous way for professionals to increase their skillset and add value to an organization.”

Safety professionals can expect to gain more than just new knowledge from the program. They’ll benefit from being able to use what they learn almost immediately. “The program is designed to keep on collecting and publishing data, examples and references,” says Esposito. “It will give you tools and methods you will probably use for the rest of your career.”

Walaski says participants can expect a few important takeaways. “The first is learning to talk about risk and its applications in a language that is clearly understood by the senior management. The second takeaway is the critical skills that they can implement on their first day back on the job.”

Woodhull says those skills can help safety professional distinguish themselves in the workforce. “You can show through your completion of the program that you have a certain level of expertise that many others don’t have who haven’t been educated in that way,” says Woodhull. “It’s an excellent way to gain a credential.”