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Kent McElhattan ‘deeply humbled’ to receive NSC Flame of Life Award


Itasca, IL — Kent McElhattan is the recipient of the Flame of Life Award, a rare honor presented by the National Safety Council to highlight an individual’s or organization’s lifetime achievements in safety. The award was given March 4 during the virtual NSC Safety Congress & Expo.

McElhattan serves as chair and CEO of Pittsburgh-based Discovery Robotics Corp., and is the former chair and CEO of Industrial Scientific Corp. In 1994, he founded the McElhattan Foundation, which supports workplace safety through grants. A webpage for the foundation states, “We are interested in funding initiatives that advance workplace safety in general, across entire industries,” an interest that resulted from the family’s work with Industrial Scientific, a producer of gas detection devices and other equipment intended to enhance worker safety.

A LinkedIn page for McElhattan shows he began his safety career in March 1970 as vice president and general manager of National Mine Service Co. Additionally, McElhattan was chair of the NSC board of directors from October 2010 to September 2015.

“Kent has made many contributions to the safety industry during his tenure at Industrial Scientific and Discovery Robotics, and has been a long-standing NSC partner for more than a decade,” a statement from the council reads.

Speaking during an acceptance video, McElhattan said he was “deeply humbled” to receive the award, which he accepted on behalf of those at Industrial Scientific and the board of the McElhattan Foundation. McElhattan said both entities are “working to fulfill the vision of eliminating deaths on the job by 2050.”

In outlining his philosophy toward that end, McElhattan encourages the blending of time-honored safety protocols with emerging ones.

“Our strategy,” he said, “has two steps: One, continue what’s working – all the things thousands of safety professionals do every day to keep their co-workers from harm. And secondly, to accelerate new technologies. Considering all the tools we have available today – robotics, automation, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, the internet, predictive analytics and much more – eliminating death on the job by 2050 doesn’t seem so impossible.

“NSC will continue to lead and convene that cause, and we’re honored to partner with them to keep the Flame of Life alive. Thank you.”

NSC has awarded the Flame of Life Award only a handful of times since the council was founded in 1913. The Allstate Foundation was the most recent recipient, in 2013.

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