In the continually evolving safety industry, there can be a lot to keep up with. Between new and revised standards, emerging trends, and the latest tech, it's more important than ever to know what's current, what's coming down the pipeline, and how those changes will affect your safety strategy. At TenCate Protective Fabrics, we endeavor to be not just a fabric manufacturer but also a resource for safety industry professionals: that's why we produce this blog and reports like our annual Global Industrial Safety Trends Report (download it here). But if you're looking for more ways to stay in the know, read on for our recommendations of where to find the latest info and how to get involved in the decisions that help guide the future of this industry.
Depending on your industry—whether that's oil and gas, emergency response, utilities, or otherwise—there are professional organizations that bring together representatives from each stage in the value chain through committee and subcommittee meetings and/or conferences where you can hear from your colleagues and counterparts involved in the regulation, production, and implementation of the PPE you use in your workplace. The information exchanges these organizations facilitate is invaluable. It equips safety managers with an understanding of the current safest PPE and procedures, and drives the safety industry forward by bringing feedback from wearers to stakeholders who can incorporate that feedback into the decision-making processes. Check out this list of organizations to find the ones you should join:
- National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
A self-funded nonprofit dedicated to eliminating the risks of fire, electrical, and related hazards, the NFPA offers a professional membership program, writes codes and standards, provides training programs, conducts research, and publishes industry news, among other advocacy and public education work. Membership in the NFPA connects you to a vast professional network of other members and the NFPA staff, who can answer technical standards questions. With 12 industry-specific Member Sections, the NFPA can guide you to opportunities to get involved in their codes and standards writing process as a volunteer on one of their 250+ technical committees.
- ASTM International
ASTM International (originally founded as The American Society for Testing and Materials in 1898) develops and delivers voluntary consensus standards, with over 140 technical standards-writing committees serving a broad range of industries. ASTM offers certification, training programs, and proficiency testing as well as developing standards that are crafted through the contributions of over 30,000 worldwide members in an open-consensus, Internet-facilitated process.
- American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSE)
Formerly known as the American Society of Safety Engineers, the ASSP provides standards development, education, advocacy, and a professional membership community for occupational safety and health professionals. With a long history of sharing information to advance safety standards, membership in the ASSP gives you access to a wide variety of learning and networking opportunities, and members can also get involved with standards development by joining committees.
- National Safety Council (NSC)
The NSC is a nonprofit safety advocate with a mission to eliminate the leading causes of preventable death, focusing on safety strategies at work, on roadways, and in relation to impairment. Members receive access to NSC resources, local chapter support, downloadable tool kits, discounts on training programs, and more. The NSC also conducts research and provides consulting services.
- International Organization for Standardization (ISO)
The ISO is an independent, non-governmental international organization that develops voluntary, consensus-based international standards to support innovation and provide solutions to global challenges. A network of 167 national standards bodies makes up the membership, with only one national body per country. There are three membership tiers for member bodies, with varying degrees of involvement in standards development. The United States member body, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), represents the U.S. in standardization forums around the globe.
Whether you decide to become a member of any of these organizations or not, standards-writing bodies will revise current standards and release new ones in a predictable manner. Check out the revision dates on the standards relevant to your industry to learn the cadence; if you can't join a committee, you can set reminders on your calendar to be sure you know when something new is coming that you'll need to disseminate to your team.
Conferences, including those put on by the above organizations, are another great way to keep your finger on the pulse of the safety industry.
- ASSP's expo, Safety 2023, will be held this year in San Antonio, TX, June 4-7
- The NSC conference, 2023 NSC Safety Congress & Expo, is in New Orleans, LA, October 20-26
- The Voluntary Protection Programs Participants' Association (VPPPA) Safety+ National Symposium will be September 17-20 in Orlando, FL
Companies including manufacturers, distributors, and other value-chain stakeholders are also involved in creating and committed to staying on the cutting edge of industry trends and standards. At TenCate Protective Fabrics, our end-use marketing team comprises experts with over 20 years of experience in the industry; we're always available to chat about what's new and changing and how it might affect your safety strategy. Having a relationship with the companies you deal with can be a great asset in helping guide your PPE decisions to ensure that your team has access to and awareness of the latest standards and procedures that will get them home safe at the end of the day. Subscribing to blogs, newsletters, and reports put out by the companies in your value chain is another smart way to get notified of the most relevant changes for your industry.