Louisiana House bill HB748 would have prevented the use of the title "Certified" for anyone in Louisiana without a license from the State. That clause has been removed, and the crisis seems past for the moment.
But as safety practitioners, we need to consider how our profession is to be protected for the future.
I would point out that virtually every other State has licensing for engineers. If you work in Texas, for example, you have to have a license from their State to use your stamp there. As an independent consultant, I work in several states, and would (if a similar license were required for safety professionals) need to maintain multiple licenses to perform my work. Not a problem for me...
At this time, one needs more approval to braid hair or arrange flowers in Louisiana than to claim expertise in safety. Unfortunately, we have some quacks in our profession, often claiming certifications, degrees, and expertise that they don't actually possess. One almost became the President of the GBR Chapter...
I see a need for some regulation concerning who works in the field of Safety. And the State level may (or may not) be where that regulation should occur. We need to start a dialogue about this.
I feel that regulation is needed to protect the safety and health of the public. If someone without a license offers to braid your hair or arrange flowers, it's no big deal. But if someone who has no idea about what they're doing offers to evaluate your methyl-isocyanate storage tank, then we all have a huge problem.
Until now, the market for Safety Professionals in Louisiana has been (for the industries who hire them) a "caveat emptor" situation. The owner of the process must protect themselves against charlatans claiming to be experts. Most succeed, but some fail. Public safety is too important to allow hucksters to hijack our profession.
If we in the safety profession don't become proactive in determining how we want the regulation of our profession to work, then we will end up playing defense against legislators who don't understand the issues.
One option might be to form a board of all involved organizations and issue our own certificates of competency to qualified personnel. Another option might be to form the same board under the auspices of the State of Louisiana. But one way or another, since public safety is so strongly involved in the safety profession, we either lead, follow, or become the victims of likely-misguided legislation.
Please consider these issues and if we need to form a coalition to investigate options, now might be a good time.
Also, please consider forwarding this missive to other affected organizations for whom I have no email contacts including:
Delta Safety Society
National Safety Council
Institute of Internal Auditors
National Environmental Health Association
American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine
Cordially - Glenn Young, CSP