Hersman Opens 2014 Congress & Expo

In her first keynote address, the council's new president and CEO cited the aviation industry as an example of all-out safety dedication.

SAN DIEGO --The most compelling part of Deborah A.P. Hersman's first speech at an annual conference of the National Safety Council, an organization the former NSTB chair now leads as president and CEO, came when she explained what triggered her passion for safety. The catalyst was a 1996 train collision outside Washington, D.C., when she was working on Capitol Hill, and several passengers on one of the trains died when the could not escape from burning cars -- they couldn't find the exits, and responders couldn't see which windows were exits because they weren't marked on the outside, Hersman explained Sept. 15 during tthe opening session of the 2014 National Safety Council Congress & Expo. Hersman said she heard a congressional briefing about that incident and dedicated herself to learning more and finding out how to prevent such tragedies.

Eventually, exits were clearly marked both inside and outside. "There's no way to know how many lives have been saved, how many injuries have been prevented, she said.

Hersman also cited the U.S. aviation industry -- an industry she knows very well -- and how it succeeded in reducing fatal accidents by 83 percent within a decade after being challenged in the 1990s by a series of fatal crashes.

She mentioned several current safety challenges: contract and temporary workers' safety, occupational illnesses, workers' exposure to hazardous chemicals, and the sheer number of occupational fatalities in the United States alone. "We should be outraged that 4,000 of our colleagues are dying every year from causes that are preventable," Hersman said.

She urged her overflow audience at this 102nd annual NSC Congress & Expo to "seize the day," as actor Robin Williams memorably told his students in the movie "Dead Poets Society."

"After his [Williams'] death, the outpouring of emotion showed how just one person can inspire others," she said. "Seize the day -- because every minute counts, every life counts, and every single one of you counts. You can improve the human condition."

Download Center

  • Safety Metrics Guide

    Is your company leveraging its safety data and analytics to maintain a safe workplace? With so much data available, where do you start? This downloadable guide will give you insight on helpful key performance indicators (KPIs) you should track for your safety program.

  • Job Hazard Analysis Guide

    This guide includes details on how to conduct a thorough Job Hazard Analysis, and it's based directly on an OSHA publication for conducting JHAs. Learn how to identify potential hazards associated with each task of a job and set controls to mitigate hazard risks.

  • A Guide to Practicing “New Safety”

    Learn from safety professionals from around the world as they share their perspectives on various “new views” of safety, including Safety Differently, Safety-II, No Safety, Human and Organizational Performance (HOP), Resilience Engineering, and more in this helpful guide.

  • Lone Worker Safety Guide

    As organizations digitalize and remote operations become more commonplace, the number of lone workers is on the rise. These employees are at increased risk for unaddressed workplace accidents or emergencies. This guide was created to help employers better understand common lone worker risks and solutions for lone worker risk mitigation and incident prevention.

  • EHS Software Buyer's Guide

    Learn the keys to staying organized, staying sharp, and staying one step ahead on all things safety. This buyer’s guide is designed for you to use in your search for the safety management solution that best suits your company’s needs.

  • Vector Solutions

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - June 2022

    June 2022

    Featuring:

    • SAFETY CULTURE
      Corporate Safety Culture Is Workplace Culture
    • HEAT STRESS
      Keeping Workers Safe from Heat-Related Illnesses & Injuries
    • EMPLOYEE HEALTH SCREENING
      Should Employers Consider Oral Fluid Drug Testing?
    • PPE FOR WOMEN
      Addressing Physical Differences
    View This Issue