A conversation with Uncle Bill Stettiner about Continuing Education Units; American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP) relationship with the Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP) becoming muddied; and other things going on in the mind of the "Safety Malcontent".
[00:00:00] spk_0: hola. I am Uncle Bill, the safety Jackass. Uh I have a small company named safety malcontent and my title is safety malcontent. Um Yeah, I am definitely not worth listening to and this will be a boring, however long it is. How's
[00:00:24] spk_1: that? Oh yeah, yeah, not bad. Okay. What's making you malcontent these days?
[00:00:30] spk_0: That's
[00:00:33] spk_1: a setup right there, Right. Yeah. Put it on the t for you.
[00:00:40] spk_0: So you know, it's like every time I go online and I make a statement about something that the safety industry or the safety profession might want to look at to improve, you know, for self improvement. I seem to cheese off a lot of people, right? Uh And I
[00:01:07] spk_1: love to cheese off. That's that's actually like a, like a California thing there. I've never heard that one cheese
[00:01:13] spk_0: Off is a, is a word from 1970s California, which means that you could hear it in austin texas in 1997.
[00:01:21] spk_1: Oh yes. Right. Um The delay,
[00:01:25] spk_0: yeah, it's the delay, But also in 1997 in Austin you could get jell o shots so you know, worth the trip.
[00:01:36] spk_1: Yeah, well it's still bad city, so it's worth the trip. Right?
[00:01:41] spk_0: Um So he, here's the thing uh the the SSP has decided that they want to change their governance so that they can be more agile for the future and I've been asking questions about that and not not really getting answers. And so we put off the vote uh to do this and in the meanwhile a lot of things have changed, right? So yeah, if you're worried about uh safety connect giving away. Oh God. Yeah. Uh continuing education units for free. Uh huh. Well that's not something to worry about when the B. C. S. P. Starts having an international conference and tries to make it so that you don't even need to be a member of a SSP to enhance your certification right? Because once they have an international conference paying dues to them get you those recertification. And the thing is I start saying things like well but the whole C. E. U. Thing has has gone the way of the dodo because you know the name is continuing education unit. So it implies that there's education involved but they're given away for registration. They're not given away for education right? OSHA says that an education program must have a pre test, a learning component and a post test right to validate that some new knowledge has been gained. We don't do any of those things to get cuz currently right there are commodities and now the value of that commodity has been greatly diminished. But that's okay because we're not saying the value of knowledge is diminished. We're not saying the value of learning is diminished. Where we're saying the value of the C. EU. Is diminished. Who cares?
[00:04:11] spk_1: They I kinda and it's used to like break in the thought there. Uh But it seems like you may have a straw or I should say a spoon and there's a pot here that you're stirring. Pretty good. That is stern because you in just a brief moment
[00:04:33] spk_0: there.
[00:04:34] spk_1: Yes. You just dated yourself right there. Yes, because I remember it. So I'm dating myself as well. But surely with the the C. S. P. S. And and all the other designations out there. And there's a whole bunch of them. Um. Yes. Their money making and they've got to have, you know, they want to prove that they are truly, you know, the designation if you will. But you are so right with the with the continuing education and the key term is being education and not participation. Uh That's why I believe they switched to the point system.
[00:05:14] spk_0: Exactly. And who assigns the point re certification points are assigned by the B. C. S. P. There is no third party. So how is this valid? Mhm. Um And and so what I've proposed SSP is why don't we distance ourselves from these folks and distance ourselves from the C. E. You were not distancing ourselves from education, right? We're not distancing ourselves from growth and learning. We're just distancing ourselves from the whole apparatus that has been built up about, you know, the pay to play system that is in place,
[00:06:03] spk_1: right? What's the incentive to do that for them? It doesn't seem to be an incentive enough because the partnership and I'm not, you know, I don't know the details of the partnership, but from an outsider looking in uh it seems like the two entities are pretty deep in each other's, you know, I don't know if it's pocket or hip but they seem to be attached at the hip to me on the outsider. Looking in
[00:06:29] spk_0: from the outside looking in, it does look like that but I want to I want to throw a couple of ideas. Oh previously 15 years ago you would approach B. C. S. P. Sign up, get evaluated magically to be able to take a test, right? You meet the criteria. Uh whatever that criteria is, let's not even talk about the criteria right now but you meet it so you're able to purchase the test and take it and if you pass it then you are certified. Yeah. And then every five years you have to turn in a re certification worksheet right? Which can include things like being a member of some form of national or international uh Professional safety organization that holds a conference annually. Yeah. Being an officer in that organization. Being an officer in the B. C. S. P. Volunteering to help the B. C. S. P. With something volunteering to help some safety association organization or society
[00:07:47] spk_1: with something
[00:07:48] spk_0: taking classes, writing books, writing papers, etcetera etcetera. These
[00:07:55] spk_1: are the contributions to the, to the community and in some cases you have categories if you train the trainer and you teach the train the trainer then you're going to get a certain amount of points and then they they kept the point where you can only get a max in this category. They game it up right?
[00:08:12] spk_0: No no no totally understand. And and there is nothing wrong with them setting a system that they like and approve of to do that right? I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that. What I am saying is that one you have to understand that once the B. C. S. P. Started giving recertification points and see us for things. That relationship got money. Now the B. C. S. P. Has announced their annual seminar. You can see that any any safety professionals that wanted to keep their status and had limited resources might only pay one organization rather than both organizations. Their annual dues.
[00:09:09] spk_1: Yeah. There's now a choice being made
[00:09:11] spk_0: right? And so the only way uh let me take a step back. Excuse me.
[00:09:21] spk_1: Uh I know you've got to be political too so you gotta watch that as well. It's
[00:09:26] spk_0: not so much about being political as I'm so stupid. I have to form my words correctly. Um People exchange money for value. Right? Uh huh. Right now the value is the C. E. U. And the re certification point and maintaining your uh for lack of a better term work permit or professional certification. Okay? Yeah but what you and I have seen and and we have we have different backgrounds right? You have a master's degree. I'm a high school dropout. Okay We're different people. But in an effort. Two style eyes the product offering. Right? And ensure that people who will continue to pay for certifications get started early. I think there have been some changes of late that you may or may not agree or damaging things like the graduate safety professionals. Right? So if I, if I got my degree in safety and occupational health, why do I need a certificate that doesn't require me to take a test or anything that just says yes. I do actually have this degree
[00:11:11] spk_1: verification of the agree. It's like uh no, not only do I have the degree but hair point here and I could show you by
[00:11:19] spk_0: These letters. I've got letters and the last one is AP. Which stands for professional. Right? Um Now in exchange for that money, you get to not have to take the sp test. You only have to take the CSP test to get your vaunted CSP. Now, every year, Ayyash A. S. S. P, the B. C. S. P. All do these studies right? Or or surveys and we ask all the practitioners and professionals out there. What are the most important things that a safety professional must have And we come back with things like integrity ethics. The ability to communicate empathy, humble inquiry, right? Leadership things like this. Yeah, none of these things are prerequisite. None of these things are on any of the certification exam. None of these things have any sort of verification or validation? Yeah. Okay now let's talk about ethics in theory unethical professional. I must admit when he or she is wrong. Does that seem reasonable?
[00:12:53] spk_1: That seems reasonable?
[00:12:54] spk_0: Would you also think that they must admit when the industry or profession is wrong?
[00:13:02] spk_1: Yes. And it goes even beyond or I should say even before that is when you know you're even trying to make decisions uh And if you know your decisions are going to be impacting either for the wrong reasons such as the bottom line the money versus the actual you know the your in this case it's it's going to be clients which is you know people who are getting the certificate in the interest of your clients in the interest of your associate members.
[00:13:33] spk_0: Well and and we have to understand that there's a difference between fiduciary responsibilities which have to do with what I owe to people who pay me money and well excuse me what I have to do for people who pay me money and trust me to provide them a service. Right? Uh And ethics which is just about doing the right thing. Right? So the ethical code at the B. C. S. P. And uh we don't call it an ethical code at the A. S. P. We call it something else. Uh I don't remember. But both of these state that you're not supposed to say bad things about safety or the profession? Yeah. Well, so are our ethical codes unethical?
[00:14:30] spk_1: See one of those questions,
[00:14:33] spk_0: Right. I mean, you know, if God is all powerful, can he make a microwave a burrito so hot that he himself did he? Right. It. But so, so ethics are a thorny thing and they are, it is very difficult to measure someone's understanding of ethics with an online multiple guest test. So, shouldn't we, uh, you know, an industry that is saying, hey, We want to strive for zero Errors. We want to improve by 1%. Shouldn't we be trying to improve our own processes
[00:15:12] spk_1: every day,
[00:15:13] spk_0: right? Shouldn't we? If we're going to judge others by only failure, which is wrong. We should judge them by failures and successes. Should we judge ourselves only by successes? Or should we also judge ourselves by successes and failures, Right. If if our bare minimum starting requirements for getting a certification, becoming a professional member, maintaining your certification and maintaining your professional membership aren't high enough to prevent, uh, people who possibly aren't at the same level from achieving them, then shouldn't we be making them more difficult? Well, police are
[00:16:03] spk_1: wrong. Well, you're, you're, you're dealing with with ethics and ethics sometimes, don't, don't don't work with business? Um, And should it? Yes, 100%. It should. So now when someone is a whistleblower, if you will, or at least someone who will reveal that there is a challenge here then then, Is that which whose who is now hoodwinking whom if you will.
[00:16:32] spk_0: Well, okay, so there's lots of hoods and there's lots of linking, I don't know that anyone's hoodwinking anyone. Um we're all adults so we should all know. But if we want to be taken seriously, right? If you go up on linkedin, you'll always find some young safety professional who is upset that they're not taken seriously because they're fresh out of college or they're not taken seriously because of their gender or their race or their sexual preferences for their hair color. And the thing is many people don't take safety professionals seriously because we have built up a history that we are all responsible for of saying silly things, doing silly things and not knowing what we are doing, right? So I don't care that you have a gray goatee, that you shave your head that you are black or that you are married. What I care about is if you say you're a safety professional, is there enough evidence to convict you? Right. Yeah. We keep making it easier and easier on the one hand to become a safety professional right? To get that P after your name somehow. G. S. P. T. S. P. A. S. P. C. S. P. Right? We've doubled the number of things you can have that have api for professional actor.
[00:18:11] spk_1: Oh yes.
[00:18:14] spk_0: In order to be a professional member of the A. S. S. P. You can have any certification whatsoever and a degree in any subject from any institution around the world as long as it's accredited by someone right then you can be a professional member. Well that's that's both a low bar and a high bar. Right? Yeah. Because as long as we say you must have that four year degree in 17th century Danish political history, we're excluding people but we're not necessarily excluding people based on any valid criteria, yep. Meanwhile. Yeah. Oh sorry. Yeah.
[00:19:08] spk_1: Well you got to meanwhile so you've got to figure out that you got to give us the end of the meanwhile you get there.
[00:19:15] spk_0: I didn't want to stop your thought because if I don't hear
[00:19:19] spk_1: it man this brain will will will retain it for a little while. If not I'll make it up after.
[00:19:24] spk_0: So what what is the difference between a PhD in nuclear physics from MIT and eight Bachelor's degree in 17th century Danish political history from Devry? And I'm not saying that one is worse than the other. I'm saying they're not the same
[00:20:01] spk_1: especially when you're looking for the specialist. Well
[00:20:06] spk_0: but and that's it's very difficult here because we're saying a professional is not a technician technician has very specific knowledge right? And a professional is someone who is capable of handling things that they haven't already learned.
[00:20:30] spk_1: Uh So now that gives us some context there. So uh and and the reason why I set you up with that one is because truly when you say and when people and I get this question a lot. So that's why I am, I'm with you here and I'm almost like like somebody Devil's Advocate, but I hear you and I hear you because I answered this question a lot. But you the crux sometimes is what are you going for? What's your what's your designation? Are you a specialist or your trike technician or your practitioner, your professional? And then each one of those have their own, we're supposed to have their own dedicated criteria and hierarchy where when you're coming in you're coming in as a technician ist or specialist or maybe as you're learning or technician, excuse me, then you're learning to be a specialist and then you're going to work your way into practitioner and then you're going to be a professional in those orders. But if you are a professional in our safety field with the criteria given by a SSP as you just described with a degree that has nothing, I'm a I'm a professional and my bachelor's in marketing and you know, my Masters in Public administration and if I were to talk to a doctor in industrial hygienist and we've got the same designate or I should say the same stamp on R. A. S. S. P. Membership. Yes, that did disconnect right here, Bill
[00:21:52] spk_0: more than that, right? Because so you've got a bachelor's in marketing, right? And you've got a Masters in Public administration now, there is nothing about either of those degrees that prevent you from being not only a safety professional but an excellent safety professional. Would you agree brighter? Yes. But there's also nothing in either of those degrees that guarantees it. Yes. Right. College, like many things you get out of it, what you put into it. Now, there are there are many colleges where people are able to get degrees and get very little out of the degree and then there are other colleges. Okay. I shouldn't even center it on colleges. There are some people who go to college and float through and get a degree and there were some people who go to college and learn this. Okay. And work. You get more out of it the more you put into it. So I'm not saying college is useless and I'm not saying that A degree in marketing or a degree in history of the American, musical or art appreciation or 17th century Danish political history has no value. What I'm saying is they don't inherently have a value. Okay. You, along your travels have gained knowledge, build abilities, you have become,
[00:23:24] spk_1: you write stuff
[00:23:27] spk_0: and things. Right? So the path you traveled. Got you to where you are today. Okay. Mhm. You may have learned a great deal in both of your degrees. You may have learned very little in either of them. You, it could be anywhere on the spectrum. What cheeses me off is when you go see advertisements for master's degrees, you very seldom see, well you're going to learn more here. You see we're going to get to the degree faster. You're going to earn more money when you're done. Uh Those are the selling points. Yeah. Right. So it seems like possibly hypothetically those folks have lost their way and that's fine because they're not in my industry, I don't care. But when we in safety lose our way then it affects my bottom line. Because if I go to someone and say yeah I've been doing safety for X. Number of years and blah blah blah. And they say we had a guy with a master's degree two weeks ago who told us that the band saw blade in the garbage bag wasn't a problem. But sealed bottle with uh chewing tobacco spit and it was right. You and I know that regardless of containers, a band saw blade in a plastic garbage bag is a problem.
[00:25:07] spk_1: Not a good idea,
[00:25:08] spk_0: not a good idea. We're never supposed to put those things. Yeah. So I don't care if your CSP and a professional member of the A. S. S. P. And have a master's degree in underwater basket weaving. If if you say things like that that detracts from all of us. Okay now I'm not saying that you know the world is going to collapse because one person said something silly, right? That's that's the standard we've set, right, here's the bar and if you are able to get over the bar, then we're saying, you know what you're doing. So perhaps we need to change our criteria not only for achieving professional status but also maintaining, right. So
[00:26:07] spk_1: you're looking at a problem. That is, it is so deeper rooted because, and you know, back when my, my waist order days and I've been a licensed waste or operator for, for a long time, back in the nineties when I got my license and each license and there's an equivalent to this because each license in your state, you have to renew every two years and the only way you can do it,
[00:26:32] spk_0: uh, same different day.
[00:26:35] spk_1: That's right. Okay. I'm wondering if that's where that came from. Yeah, that is, that is, that is my industry and any time you smell, it's like smells like money.
[00:26:46] spk_0: Yeah.
[00:26:49] spk_1: So with our, with our licenses in florida, it's every two years, regardless of when you get your license is just two years within a certain date and you need to prove a certain amount of continuing education for your license type. So they split up the licenses to abc and be in some states, it's by numbers. So at that point you can tell that the practitioner, even though I'm a wastewater a, that is a waste water license. So we have many different people that are licensed, but now with a, a distinction of a letter distinction of a number, that little nomenclature change can be something that we could use as a differentiator that says, hey, not only am I a CSP or from my case, I'm a cost and a cost them. Uh, so in case we wanted to, it could actually say this is a level one, level two, A type three, A type A and that might be some sort of way of doing this. If we keep the same nomenclature, if you will,
[00:27:55] spk_0: Well, exactly, and that would keep the relationship with the CSP and that's, that's fine in its own way. But let me throw this out at you. What if the American Society of Safety professionals had more than, You know, four kinds of membership. So instead of student member, professional member and member apparatus. Oh and I pronounce it right. Um, what if we said, you know, there's members, there's professional members and then in that professional membership there's grades, right? And we base your, your ranking on things like publishing, mentoring, giving back to safety and something tangible. Right? What is it they do in college? Is its publisher parent right, before you get tenure you have to publish Or you're not going to get 10 right? Um, we could, we could do a Publisher Parish, right. We could give people, uh, some sort of award points or whatever based on actual accomplishments, right? We could have a mentorship program where new young aspiring professionals come into the association and are teamed up with someone who is very accomplished in some portion.
[00:29:45] spk_1: We do that. And um in the tracks. I've I've done that with buys and also with the the consulting track of understand. But I see where you're going though.
[00:29:56] spk_0: We don't have an organized thing where like, let's say someone new comes in And and they get assigned to Sheldon for six months. And during that six months, Sheldon is giving them little assignments. And this doesn't have to be in person. And we got the interwebs
[00:30:14] spk_1: right? That's how we did it.
[00:30:16] spk_0: You you give them little assignments, you answer their questions, you help them understand and then you pass them off to someone else. So maybe after you they go to run get and Ron Gant teaches them a little something and answers their questions and gives them little assignments and after six months they go on to someone else. Right. Well, and then gee what profession works like that? Is it the medical profession?
[00:30:47] spk_1: Yeah. And then you have that in engineering as well.
[00:30:49] spk_0: Right. So in the medical profession or an engineer, you must have a degree in that field. Okay. Now the difference is, I don't think you or I want someone to take our appendix out or spleen If they've got a degree in 17th century Danish political history. Right? We would prefer they had a medical degree. Mhm. Um And you can closely link having that medical degree with the fact that you could identify the difference between a spleen an appendix which which might be important and where one might hope to find it inside the
[00:31:37] spk_1: body or you can do any meanie miny moe. But that that might work. Right,
[00:31:41] spk_0: okay. You know, it's like, hey, I didn't go to medical school but I stayed at a Holiday Inn
[00:31:46] spk_1: express list. That's right. Don't
[00:31:48] spk_0: worry. I got
[00:31:50] spk_1: we got this.
[00:31:52] spk_0: Now the differences in safety, it is possible for you to learn the things you need to learn without going through a safety educational program. Okay. Yeah. So possibly what the degree is in isn't so important, which is how we currently have things set up. I would only offer that if any degree on the planet has the possibility of being equivalent, then things other than degrees must also be equivalent.
[00:32:32] spk_1: Yeah. Well you got to um and I agree just just to to start that basis. But um let's say that you're thinking it through as um let's say you're you're you're talking to high school graduates and right now you're trying to get those high school graduates to think college and if you're going to present to them the occupational safety and health field, I believe to my core that college grad, when those high school students take that on and they become college grads, that's all they need. They should never ever ever be another designation or anything else that has to go on top of that. Unless it's to show that it's a validation of a specialty. So now you have a specialty validation to your degree and that's almost like a badge if you will. And once you see that then now is what I believe is the quintessential. But for the rest of us that are like, we may not even got out of high school and we're getting into college and we tried uh I should say we're getting into the workforce and we're trying to build ourselves in the workforce. We're looking at these designations as if I could just get a designation in something, I could prove that I I have validation of my knowledge and that's where I think is what we're looking at right now. What do you
[00:33:53] spk_0: think? But you brought up an interesting point, right? So if you're if you're talking to uh seniors and juniors in high school and they're getting ready to start applying to colleges or perhaps they've been accepted by a college and they've got to pick, they've got to start working on what do I want to major it, right Because your major is very important and it if you if you don't want to be bagging groceries at Safeway, you can't major in literature. Okay.
[00:34:25] spk_1: Um
[00:34:28] spk_0: But what is it that no matter what major you have? No matter what institution you went to? No matter how long it took you to complete your degree, what is the accomplishment? What, what have you proved that,
[00:34:52] spk_1: yep. And that's the best of the degree?
[00:34:55] spk_0: Well, no, no understand. But so like some
[00:34:58] spk_1: people say, well, you mean, you mean, um, as far as, uh, you mean as far as activity and, and, and experience?
[00:35:06] spk_0: Well, no, no, no. Uh, so what, what some people say is that just achieving the four year degree proves that you can set a goal and stick to it? Yes. Okay. Some people do say that now we all knew that kid in college who changed his major seven times, Right? And and stayed in for eight years and finally graduated because they were tired of, oh, I'm sorry. And I don't know that guy
[00:35:35] spk_1: and he wasn't my friend.
[00:35:36] spk_0: So, but so if if, instead of going to college, let's say you sign up for the US Navy and You served eight years, did you also set a goal and stick to it and accomplish it?
[00:35:57] spk_1: Absolutely. Or the same thing. You have to take care of your family and you couldn't go to college, but you stayed at that job And if you paid the rent and you did Oyler, you need to do that's accomplishment that's sticking through it. What, what do you have to show?
[00:36:10] spk_0: So, so while it's very easy to point to the degree and say, Hey, here it is, here is achievement. If we're going to be open and inclusive and uh, understand that everyone's journey and everyone's story is important, then shouldn't we start by saying you didn't go to college, you took care of your family after your father passed away or your mother passed away or nobody passed away and you stuck at that horrible job day in and day out. You've shown that you can set a goal, stick to it and accomplish it, right? Yeah. Don't. If we want everyone else to be open minded, right? What does, what does safety say? We want? Uh business managers and business executives and business owners to understand that safety is important and that safety and productivity can coexist and we want them to open their mind. Past safety is a stick to beat employees with, right? Mhm. So shouldn't we do the same thing? Shouldn't we lead by example, You could even take it one step further, shouldn't we be striving to have, OSHA not punish organizations when people are injured, right? It's, if you're running an organization and you have a couple of injuries, what happens? Right? You're in trouble with Ocean and your insurance premiums go up. So you're being told that safety is a stick to beat you with, you don't get any points for all the good things you do in your safety program. And, and we as safety professionals want to tell you, oh no, but you need to do all these good things, right? You need to have a proactive safety program. You need to learn before the incidents. You need to have learning teams after incidents. You need to have an open door policy. You need to do all these things. Yeah, but you don't get any credit for doing that. No matter how much of that you do. As soon as you get an injury, your insurance premiums go up and you've got trouble with OSHA and then the next injury, the insurance premiums go up again. You've got more trouble with OSHA.
[00:39:02] spk_1: And now there's a cycle.
[00:39:04] spk_0: Exactly. So how do we lead as safety professionals? Right? We lied by saying, Hey, you know what this system belongs to somebody else and they can keep doing it. This is what we're going to do, right? And this is how we're going to offer value. Not only to our members. So I do to the people who utilize our services, right? Which is, which is everybody right? We're going to build a model that ensures that the professional you hire has a certain level of knowledge and skill. Okay? We're going to lobby with OSHA. That rules that no longer apply to things need to be removed, Right? Because we want you to remove the rules that your organization when they no longer apply. Yeah. Right? If you've got safety rules that are actually detrimental, we want you to get rid of them instead of letting them become safety clutter. Oh yeah. So we lead by example, If we want, uh, inclusion, then we have to lead by example if if we want to provide value, then we have to provide value.