ASSE was formed in October 1911, just a few months after the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire claimed the lives of 146 garment workers in New York City. These workers perished due in large part to unsafe working conditions, locked exit doors and inadequate fire escapes—all of which could have been prevented.
Much has changed for the better in occupational safety and health in the past century, including the continued growth of the SH&E profession. Yet, despite our progress, more than 3 million U.S. workers suffered workplace injuries or illnesses and more than 4,000 lost their lives in 2009. That’s 12 people each day. Clearly there’s more work to be done.
As ASSE celebrates its 100th anniversary and we reflect on a century of protecting people, property and the environment, I urge you to participate in North American Occupational Safety and Health (NAOSH) Week, May 1-7, and Occupational Safety and Health Professional (OSHP) Day, May 4. NAOSH Week and OSHP Day are just two of the many ways that ASSE, its members and partners have raised awareness of the importance of being safe on the job. These observances also are a great opportunity for each of us to help others understand the SH&E profession and the important role we play in keeping people safe at work.
Your efforts over the past few years in supporting NAOSH Week, OSHP Day and the annual Safety-on-the-Job kids’ poster contest have made a major difference in many lives. This year, we received 2,000 entries in the kids’ poster contest. The winning entries are featured on the NAOSH Week poster and participants will be honored at NAOSH Week kick-off events in Washington, DC, in a few weeks.
With your help, we can make NAOSH Week better than ever. No effort is too small or too big. You can distribute the NAOSH Week poster in your community, hold safety days, or use the ASSE Safety Suitcase to teach children about working safely and the SH&E profession. Whether it’s through community outreach, hosting events or providing information to stakeholders worldwide, you can help prevent tragedies by proactively spreading the word about the importance of working safely.
NAOSH Week is approaching fast. Be sure to visit www.asse.org/naosh11, where you will find many resources, including a draft proclamation, statistics, idea starters and suggestions for planning activities in your community or workplace. Here are just a few quick ideas: Host a safety meeting or SH&E breakfast at work; create safety tables or bulletin boards in your workplace or local library; or sponsor a food drive in honor of NAOSH Week and OSHP Day. You can also work with state and local government officials to obtain proclamations in honor of NAOSH Week.
These are just a few ways that you can participate in NAOSH Week. Through your dedicated involvement, we will continue to reach millions of people with our important workplace safety messages. The more members who participate, the more employees, managers, CEOs, regulators and legislators we will reach. Join us!