Susan HarmonAfter attending her first AEM Tech & Safety committee meeting with her mentor more than a decade ago, Susan Harmon knew this was a group that would become crucial to success in her new role in product safety and compliance. What she didn’t know was the role that she would come to fill as the chair of the association’s Tech & Safety Leadership Group.

But Harmon, who has served as product safety and compliance manager for Charles Machine Works across all of the company’s product lines for the past decade, will now lead the industry’s efforts to advocate for safer products and regulatory consistency.

“Often, the people who are developing regulations don’t have a full understanding of all equipment and processes that will be impacted,” Harmon recently told AEM. “I think it’s important for manufacturers to be at the forefront of those issues and try to have an impact so that the regulations do make sense and actually improve safety, and not just add cost and complexity.”

AEM’s tech and safety services play a key role in helping equipment manufacturers navigate market access issues both in the United States and internationally. The association convenes a number of product and issue-driven working groups to address emerging challenges, particularly in international markets where new regulations or requirements might affect manufacturers’ businesses.

Harmon takes over as chair of the leadership group amid a distinguished career at Charles Machine Works, where she began work in 1999 in the company’s quality department. Harmon has worked in the product safety and compliance department for the last 10 years at Charles Machine Works and enjoys the challenges of balancing technology and safety.

She said that her biggest role as chair will be helping the committee identify and drive priorities for AEM as they relate to tech and safety issues.

Awareness is a top priority, too.

“One of our biggest challenges is just staying aware – knowing when something is changing. That’s a huge area where AEM helps us,” she said. “We’re facing an enormous amount of regulations and they are changing regularly. This makes it difficult to keep up on our own.”

Harmon also said that emissions and chemical materials tracking regulations were among the biggest issues she expects the industry to face in the coming years.

More than anything, though, she says she wants to have a positive impact for the entire equipment manufacturing sector in the area of safety and compliance.  

“I’d like to have helped our leadership group dive into the difficult issues and grow past efforts to make a positive impact on equipment safety and compliance,” she says of her possible legacy.