The 7 Qualities of Outstanding Safety Professionals

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We all know the allure of lists. David Letterman’s Top 10 lists were often a highlight of his late-night show, and consumer magazines and bloggers are masters at crafting headlines starting with, “3 Reasons for,” “4 Ways to” or “9 Steps of.”

In this case, “The 7 Qualities of Outstanding Safety Professionals” is the title of a concurrent session at our upcoming Safety 2018 conference in San Antonio. And the list crafted by presenters Josh Franklin, M.B.A., CSP, CET, and CeCe Weldon, M.B.A., CSP, ARM, is thought-provoking and intriguing, partly due to its brevity:

  1. Personal development
  2. Balance
  3. The average
  4. C-suite perspective
  5. The secret
  6. Feedback
  7. Giving back

Franklin, a chief master sergeant and career field manager for Air Force Safety, knows these titles seem cryptic, but says that was deliberate.

“They help open up conversations about what it takes to wildly succeed in the safety profession,” he continues.

Franklin and Weldon have identified and defined these qualities based on more than 40 years of combined experience working with thousands of safety professionals in global organizations.

“Having a strong work ethic or obtaining multiple degrees/certifications won’t make you the best in the profession,” says Weldon, vice president of corporate SH&E, management solutions, for AECOM. “These seven qualities are our collective observations of the best in the safety profession.”

As you look at the list, it’s natural to ask, “How can I build my capabilities in these areas?” Franklin says it starts with one key step.

“Today, someone will wake up and decide to be a little bit better than yesterday. And they will succeed.”

For those who already perceive strengths in these areas, the challenge is to continually improve. Weldon says that pursuit of continual improvement is what differentiates good safety professionals from outstanding ones, but it’s also important to pace yourself and focus on your strengths.

“Getting a little bit better in a few areas can have tremendous benefits,” Franklin adds.

This continuous improvement mind-set can also help safety professionals identify new ways to address challenges that make them feel less than outstanding.

“If you feel you’ve come up against an unsolvable safety problem, stop, walk away and take a few deep breaths,” Weldon advises. “From this vantage point, you can more clearly identify the perceived barriers and what may be causing them.”

While these seven qualities can help anyone working in occupational health and safety (OSH), they could be especially useful guideposts for young safety professionals. According to Weldon and Franklin, aspiring to be better is half the battle on the way to professional success. Without the drive to succeed and a vision for how to measure success, young people will not be able to learn from the wisdom of their older, more experienced peers.

In Franklin’s view, this approach is aided when you do what entrepreneur Tom Bilyeu advises: View yourself as both average and malleable.

“Average in that you aren’t special (which builds humility) and malleable because everything about you can change and improve,” Franklin explains. “It’s the decision to make a difference, in your own life and in the lives of others, that drives the best OSH professionals.”

And what better thing is there to do than your best?

Meet Franklin and Weldon and learn more about their insights on being an outstanding safety professional during Safety 2018 Session S751 on Wednesday, June 6, 1:45 p.m. to 2:45 p.m.

Joshua Franklin, M.B.A., CSP, CET, is a chief master sergeant who serves as career field manager for Air Force Safety, leading 781 military safety professionals worldwide. He has served in the Air Force for more than 20 years, speaks regularly and conducts monthly video talks about various safety topics. He is a board member and ambassador for the Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP).


Cece Weldon, M.B.A., CSP, ARM, is vice president of corporate SH&E, management solutions at AECOM, where she manages safety policy and procedures, client prequalification, occupational health, workers’ compensation and automobile liability claims. Weldon is an ASSE Foundation trustee and a past board member for BCSP.

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