Safety Mission

SH&E professionals will storm San Antonio this summer.

Remember the Alamo? If so, you may recall that it was originally named Misión San Antonio de Valero and became the Shrine of Texas Liberty 173 years ago this month when, on the morning of March 6, 1836, the last of Col. William B. Travis’ 189 woefully outnumbered “Texian” and Tejano fighters finally succumbed to what seemed a sea of Mexican soldiers led by General Antonio López de Santa Anna. The battle was pivotal in Texas’ fight for independence, which it achieved the following month, and it remains one of the all-time heroic struggles against impossible odds. Historians say Santa Anna’s men numbered 4,000.

Interestingly enough, that is roughly the same number of safety, health, and environmental professionals the American Society of Safety Engineers expects to troop to San Antonio from all parts of the globe this summer for Safety 2009, this year’s ASSE Professional Development Conference & Expo. The event takes place June 28 through July 1 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, located in the heart of the city’s historic downtown, mere blocks from the famous mission/military post/battleground.

The event is one of the strongest shows in safety. As it does every year, it will be offering a brigade of educational and networking opportunities. More than 225 concurrent sessions in 18 tracks will cover topics on construction, fire protection, health care, industrial hygiene, safety management, manufacturing, mining, oil & gas, risk management and insurance, transportation, regulatory issues, technical and engineering standards, international safety and health, environmental issues, and personal development. A new track this year focusing on business skills will alone feature some 20 classes delving into subjects such as “Cost Analysis and Budgeting: Risk Analysis and Hazard Control” (Session 561),“Execution: The Difference that Makes the Difference— Achieving Superior Performance”(Session 562), and the “ROI of Ergonomic Impacts: Demonstrating Value to the Business” (Session 729).

In addition, a number of pre- and post-conference seminars, safety issue roundtables, keynote and lunch presentations, an exposition with more than 400 exhibitors, and an executive summit—all involving a veritable cavalry of industry experts—will extend the learning opportunities to all quarters.

Global Vision
British economic journalist Stuart Varney will deliver this year’s general session keynote presentation, “The New Realities of the Global Economy,” at 7:45 a.m. June 29. Varney joined FOX News Channel’s business team in 2004 and has been a regular contributor to the network’s programming on shows such as “Your World with Neil Cavuto,” “Bulls & Bears,” and “Cashin’ In.” Before joining FOX, he contributed to business programming on CNN and co-anchored its “Moneyline News Hour.” His reporting and analysis of the stock market crash of 1987 helped earn CNN a Peabody Award for excellence in journalism. According to ASSE, he will bring the same insight to Safety 2009, focusing his wide-ranging acumen on the new administration and today’s economic conditions.

Later the same day, occupational safety and health leaders from the new administration themselves will share insights with conference attendees at the afternoon plenary session. Invited panelists will address the key issues and concerns of SH&E professionals on the activities and impact of the regulatory, standards development, and compliance assistance efforts of the federal government and respond to questions from ASSE’s moderator.

Former Yahoo! executive Tim Sanders will keynote the June 30 general session, “Saving the World at Work,” beginning at 7:45 a.m. The title of his address is also the title of his third book, which was released in September 2008. According to his Web site, the book’s premise is simple: “In this new socially conscious day and age, you can make a difference as you make a dollar. Any person, especially you, can change the world by changing the way your company does business.” Sanders joined Yahoo! through the acquisition of Mark Cuban’s in 1999 and was named “chief solutions officer” after he created and led the company’s “ValueLab,” an internal group designed to provide insight into Yahoo!’s customers. He also is the New York Times bestselling author of “Love is the Killer App” and “The Likeability Factor.”

On July 1, Chip Eichelberger will help close the conference on an enthusiastic note with his lunch program titled “SWITCH on Your Sales Success,” an address customized to help SH&E professionals affect the performance of their organizations. Formerly the “international point man” for motivational speaker Tim Robbins, Eichelberger is a Certified Speaking Professional, the highest earned designation awarded by the National Speakers Association, who challenges his audiences to take a hard look at their attitudes, giving them tools to get their teams “plugged back in and switched on!”

As usual, attendees can earn CEUs at the event. In general, conference attendance merits 1.7 CEUs, and for those attending the conference and the closing lunch with Eichelberger,1.8 CEUs are awarded. Pre- and post-conference seminars can add to those numbers, depending on the length of the courses, and CM points also are available. Visit for more details.

Bring Blue Jeans
According to the San Antonio Convention & Visitors Bureau, the average temperature in the city in late June/early July is in the low 90s.For attendees desiring to venture outside the air-conditioned convention hall, Safety 2009 developers have organized a number of technical tours designed to showcase some of the unique sites helping to make San Antonio the third fastest-growing city in America and seventh largest overall. The planned tours include trips to see the limestone mining operations at the Vulcan Materials Company, the manufacturing facility of Frito Lay Inc., and the wastewater operations at the Dos Rios Water Recycling and Treatment Center, among others. All technical tours require a $30 advance payment per person, and no cameras, video, or other recording devices are permitted. Capacity is limited, so register early.

Half-day and full-day outings are planned specifically for attendees’ spouses and guests, including a tour of several of the city’s historic missions. The Alamo is not on the itinerary for this particular expedition, which is odd considering it is the most-visited attraction in the state, but the four stops that are on the “Spanish Mission Trail” tour serve to tell the early story of the city and European expansion in the New World. Other excursions include rafting on the Guadalupe River; a visit to Fredericksburg, Texas, and the LBJ Ranch; and a jaunt to several Texas Hill Country wineries, also with a stop in Fredericksburg.

ASSE’s South Texas Chapter from San Antonio has organized a June 29 “Ranch ‘N Rodeo” jamboree at Rio Cibolo Ranch from 6 to 10:30 p.m. Designed to put attendees “in the mood for the Wild West of Texas,” the event will feature a rodeo performance, armadillo races, moonlit hay rides, live music, line dancing, and Old West tales. The following night, the chapter is teaming with ASSE Region III to present a Texas Hold ‘Em & Casino Night—a “play for fun” event at which everyone can be a winner (except those under the age of 21, who won’t be admitted). All proceeds from this event will benefit the ASSE Foundation.

Also benefiting the foundation—specifically, its scholarships for students pursuing research and degrees in occupational safety and health—is a pre-conference golf outing June 28 at the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Golf Club, which will have a 7 a.m. shotgun start. Registration is open for this event and the conference itself. Early-bird discounts for the PDC & Expo are available until April 15.

Next year’s conference will be held in Baltimore (June 13-16), and in 2011 the show returns to ASSE’s home ground of Chicago (June 12-15) for the society’s 100th anniversary celebration. For more information about Safety 2009, including a “virtual expo,” visit

This article originally appeared in the March 2009 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

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