Interview – Dr. Robert Emery, Vice President for Safety, Health, Environment & Risk Management, University of Texas Health Science Center

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Dr. Robert Emery is Vice President for Safety, Health, Environment & Risk Management for The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and Professor of Occupational Health at the University of Texas School of Public Health. He has over 37 years of experience in health & safety and holds master’s degrees in both health physics and environmental sciences, and a doctorate in occupational health.

The OHS Leaders team took some time out earlier this week to put forward some questions for Dr. Robert Emery to answer around the current state of the Health and Safety Environment across the United States.

Dr. Robert Emery will be presenting at this year’s OHS Leaders Summit USA in Carlsbad, California on 17 – 18th October 2018.

If you would like to find out more on how you could be part of this summit please click on the register your interest tab above.


 What do you feel are the biggest challenges safety leaders are currently faced with within their business?  

Quantifying the value of prevention has always been a challenge for safety leaders. In the safety profession, it is a good day when “nothing happens”, but we have to do a better job at collectively demonstrating and articulating the amount of resources that are needed to make “nothing happen”.


2) As a safety leader, what do you feel businesses continue to get wrong when it comes to their Health and Safety strategy?

Since the workers are truly an organizations’ most valuable resource, it is important for companies to overtly express that value and exhibit genuine concern for their health and well being. The tone has to be set from the top that the organization genuinely cares about you.


3) What are the latest trends and behaviours you predict will be surfacing on the market over the coming 12 months?

I am very interested in the interface between safety and security. I am told that only in the English language are there two separate words describing loss control – but in English the difference between safety and security is intent. I believe there are opportunities for safety and security to work more closely together to collectively reduce losses of all types.


4) What is the best piece of advice you have received within your job over the years?

A wise former boss told me : I don’t get paid to listen to people complain – if you have a problem, describe it to me and list the options for resolution, and always put your preferred option as number one – and you’ll likely get your way. That has proven to be sage advice for me over the years.


5) What is one key takeaway you hope our OHS audience leaves with after hearing your presentation on site?

Improving the interface between safety and security and to identify areas of synergy (See #3 above).


The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth), primarily a graduate education university, educates the largest number of health care professionals in Texas. Created in 1972 by the UT System Board of Regents, UTHealth is located in the Texas Medical Center. UTHealth includes the schools of dentistry, biomedical informatics, medicine, nursing and public health, and the graduate school of biomedical sciences. UTHealth is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award certificate, bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral and professional degrees. Three UTHealth faculty practices treat patients in a variety of Houston-area clinics: UT Physicians, UT Dentists and UT Health Services.

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