NSC 2016 Day 2 Keynotes Focus on Motivation

Charlie Morecraft and Scott Geller urged their audience to actively care for co-workers and take safety responsibility personally. The afternoon keynote's speakers warned that workplace violence can happen anywhere, so be prepared.

ANAHEIM, Calif. – Both keynote presentations on Oct. 18 at the 2016 National Safety Congress & Expo focused on strongly motivating the listeners. Charlie Morecraft of Phoenix Safety Management and Scott Geller of Safety Performance Solutions and Virginia Tech shared the stage for the morning keynote, with Morecraft recounting the severe burn injuries he suffered on the job at a New Jersey refinery and the agonizing recovery, countless operations, and severe cost to his family and himself the accident ultimately caused – all because Morecraft chose that day, as he had many times before, to take shortcuts rather than follow a more cumbersome but safer procedure and wear all of the proper PPE.

"You can't afford an accident like this. Your family can't affort an accident like this. What caused this accident was my attitude toward safety," said Morecraft, who has co-presented keynote speeches with Geller at NSC annual conferences since 2006.

The afternoon keynote concerned workplace violence and featured four speakers. They included Carol Cambridge, CEO of Violence Free; Carri Casteel, MPH, PhD, president of the Society for Advancement of Violence and Injury Research; Kumani Armstrong, special counsel to the director of California's Department of Industrial Relations, the parent agency of Cal/OSHA; and Kevin Foust, police chief and director of security at Virginia Tech.

Casteel and National Safety Council CEO Deborah A.P. Hersman discussed violence statistics, including that violence is the third-leading cause of U.S. occupational fatalities, following motor vehicle crashes and falls, and it is the second-leading cause of occupational fatalities for women in the United States. Armstrong said the rate of being victimized by violence at work is five times greater in health care and social assistance than in other industries.

Cal/OSHA has nearly completed a rulemaking on preventing workplace violence at hospitals, and the rule will be voted on Oct. 20 in Oakland by the state's Occupational Safety & Health Standards Board, Armstrong said. If adopted at that meeting, the rule will go to the Office of Administrative Law for ultimate implementation, and then Cal/OSHA will turn its attention to a violence prevention rule for general industry, he said.

The session was interactive and led by Hersman, who polled the audience throughout on how well their companies and workers are prepared for violence at their workplaces. Only 52 percent in the audience answered that their companies have a violence policy in place; 38 percent answered that their companies do not have such policies In effect. Cambridge said that's a key mistake many companies make, failing to have policies in place.

Others she noted are not having a reporting system in place and not handling threats properly, assuming that workers know what to do, having no relationship with local law enforcement, having a disconnect between HR, security, EHS, and facilities in their operations, minimal or no training, and not identifying gaps and vulnerabilities.

Foust began his presentation by noting that the 10th anniversary of the mass shooting at Virginia Tech will take place April 16, 2017, and that day is also Easter Sunday. He cautioned the audience members not to believe that such an incident can't happen to them, because Virginia Tech was about the last place that Foust, then an FBI agent managing a Virginia office for the bureau, would have thought would experience one, he said.

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