The expo will take place inside the George R. Brown Convention Center, which opened on the east side of downtown Houston on Sept. 26, 1987. (Julie Soefer Photography)

Opioid Crisis, Traffic Deaths in Focus at NSC 2018

Deborah A.P. Hersman, the National Safety Council's president and CEO, told attendees at the Oct. 22 opening session that all of us have to see more clearly the hazards that are killing so many Americans.

HOUSTON -- The 2018 National Safety Council Congress & Expo's opening session focused mainly on two major causes of accidental and largely preventable death in the United States -- the opioids epidemic and traffic accidents. Deborah A.P. Hersman, the National Safety Council's president and CEO, told attendees at the Oct. 22 opening session that it's a matter of seeing clearly, and that all of us have to see more clearly these hazards that are killing so many Americans.

"We're at a seven-year high in workplace fatalities, we have a lot of work to do," she told the large audience filling most of the ballroom at the George R. Brown Convention Center in downtown Houston. "We are becoming blind to everyday hazards. We are becoming complacent," she said, citing rising speed limits and not paying sufficient attention to hazards such as falls.

Hersman is a former chair of the National Transportation Safety Board.

"Don't Miss Seeing Safety" is an exhibit featured at NSC's booth in the expo here. Also on prominent display outside the ballroom, and the focus of a news conference here Oct. 22 by Hersman and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is an exhibit described as a memorial to the Americans killed by opioid overdoses. Named "Prescribed to Death: A Memorial to the Victims of the Opioid Crisis," it has travelled from Chicago to several cities in the past year; it features more than 22,000 small, white "pills," each carved with the face of an overdose victim.

"The opioid epidemic is now the most significant public health crisis of our time," Hersman said during the opening session. "We know a prescription after an injury is often how someone gets hooked."

The council is highlighting the issue with a website and is distributing free cards -- one was on every chair in the ballroom when attendees took their seats for the opening session -- with small stickers that read, "Opioids: Warn Me." The idea is to place a sticker on your health insurance card as a warning to your physicians and health care providers about the dangers of opioids painkillers.

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