On May 18, 2013, Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety & health, gave the 2013 Commencement Address at the George Washington University’s School of Public Health. His inspiring message recounted many public health and safety successes of the past century and urged the graduates to take a proactive role in improving the workplace and our society.
Dr. Michaels offered the following advice for professionals as they pursue careers that strive to advance health and safety:
1. “Keep challenging yourself.” Strive for continued growth. Go outside your comfort zone and don’t be overcome by a fear of failure. Aim high.
2. “Keep learning.” To keep pace with a rapidly changing world, you must continue to learn, and continually update your knowledge.
3. “Love your work.” Stay connected to the reasons you enjoy your work. Take a passionate approach to your job and work to keep that passion alive. This will help you be successful and improve your endurance.
4. “Stay balanced.” Take care of your own health, remain positive, and don’t let your job dampen your spirits or take over your life.
5. “Don’t take yourself too seriously.” Keep things in perspective. While the work you do is certainly important, remember the world will continue whether or not you participate.
All employers and workers have the opportunity to make a difference in their organizations and the lives of those within. “But clocking in and out isn't enough,” said Dr. Michaels in his address. “Each one of us – each one of you – can be forceful, effective advocates for change.”
Be a workplace safety and health leader. Help identify potential problems by watching for and reporting safety risks, seek information on issues that affect your workplace, and encourage others to follow safety protocols and use personal protective equipment (PPE) and safety supplies when necessary.