ASSE Announces Winners of 100th Anniversary Essay Contests

“To me, the biggest challenge is obvious. It revolves around the issue that safety professionals do not communicate clearly and allow confusion and crossed wires to occur," wrote ASSE member Joann Robertson, CSP, ARM, CPCU, in her winning entry, "Two Paper Cups With a String."

In honor of the American Society of Safety Engineers’ 100th anniversary celebration, written and video essay contests were held for the first time this year. Written contest entrants were asked to describe the greatest challenge facing the safety, health and environmental profession in the 21st century, while video contest entrants were asked to show why the world needs more SH&E professionals. Joann Robertson, CSP, ARM, CPCU, received the top prize in the written essay contest, while Kelly O’Malley, Aaron Padoshek, and student member Julia Lippert took top honors in the two categories of the video essay contest.

An ASSE member for more than 20 years, Robertson, supervisor of risk management services for Wright Risk Management in Uniondale, N.Y., won top honors in the written essay contest for her entry titled, “Two Paper Cups With a String.” Her essay identifies communication as the biggest challenge facing SH&E professionals in the workplace. Robertson is a member of ASSE’s Long Island Chapter and is a frequent contributor to "Perspectives," the newsletter of the Public Sector Practice Specialty.

In the essay, Robertson wrote, “To me, the biggest challenge is obvious. It revolves around the issue that safety professionals do not communicate clearly and allow confusion and crossed wires to occur. We over-rely on technology and need to refocus on improving our communication skills in order to strengthen our relationships to better relate to, and protect, clients, coworkers and colleagues.”

For the video essay portion of the contest, winners were selected from both the judge’s choice and fan choice categories. ASSE members O’Malley and Padoshek, both of InjuryFree in Woodinville, Wash., won in the judge’s choice category for their video, titled, “Where Would We Be Without Safety Professionals?” For more than 12 years, O’Malley’s focus has been increasing worker safety and decreasing workplace risk. An incident in early 2011 resulted in her temporary dependence on the use of a wheelchair and made injury prevention a more personal cause, reinforcing her determination to promote workplace safety. Padoshek is the designer and creative director at InjuryFree.

O’Malley and Padoshek commented, “The ASSE safety video was a project near and dear to our hearts. We wanted to stress how safety affects everyone and how fortunate workers are to have safety professionals who are dedicated to ensuring they make it home to their families each and every night.”

The fan favorite video, titled “Try EH&S Instead,” was submitted by Lippert, treasurer of ASSE’s University of Illinois Chicago Student Section. The video was developed by Lippert and fellow student section members to demonstrate the importance of safety and health in the workplace. Lippert stated, “We had a lot of fun making the video. We came up with the idea of a parody of the 5-hour energy drink commercials for our video because we were all drawn to safety and health, in part, because of the exciting variety of work available to us that would be different from the cubicle setting.”

ASSE congratulates all of the winners and entrants for their awards and efforts. For more information about the ASSE 100th anniversary essay contests and ASSE’s 100th anniversary celebration, visit

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