Congress wrapup

Highlights: 2015 NSC Congress & Expo

November 22, 2015

"In safety, we often only have 20/20 vision after an event occurs.”

Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council, shared this insight before a crowd of 4,000 people at the Opening Session of the 2015 NSC Congress & Expo in Atlanta.

During the event, which took place from Sept. 26 through Oct. 2, more than 14,000 safety professionals from all over the world came together to “Build Safer Workplaces” – the theme of this year’s show. Attendees had the opportunity to listen to keynotes from nationally recognized safety leaders and motivational speakers, participate in more than 120 Technical Sessions, and join in on more than 25 Professional Development Seminars. On the Expo Floor, more than 1,000 exhibitors showcased their products and services.

Hersman urged attendees to take the opportunities available to them to “ensure safety glasses are calibrated correctly” and empower workers to identify hazards. “Don’t wait until you have a workplace incident,” Hersman cautioned.

“Simple behaviors can have a big impact,” Jeff Woodbury, outgoing chairman of the NSC Board of Directors, told the crowd. And incoming Chairman John Surma added that although hazards vary, the top priority – sending workers home safely – never changes.

‘Best in Show’ New Product Showcase: The winners are …

After 5,400 votes covering more than 100 products, the results for the inaugural “Best in Show” New Product Showcase Awards were announced Sept. 29. The showcase provided exhibitors with the opportunity to highlight their newest and most innovative safety products. Voting was available both online and onsite. The results are as follows:

  • Win: The 3MTM E-A-RfitTM Dual-Ear Validation System
  • Place: The Evacusafe Excel Chair
  • Show: The GlenGuard 4.5 oz/sq. yd. Coverall or Shirt, made by Workrite FR and sold by G&K Services.

Congratulations to the winners, and thank you to everyone who participated and voted.

NSC honors ‘highest achievers in safety’

The National Awards Celebration Reception, held in conjunction with the NSC Congress & Expo, is dedicated to honoring “the highest achievers in safety.” This year, dozens of individuals and organizations were recognized for their contributions to safe driving and workplace safety, among other achievements. Presented during the Sept. 29 ceremony were:

The NSC Rising Stars of Safety, Class of 2015, a group of up-and-coming safety professionals younger than 40 who are committed to spreading the message of safety to their workplaces. Learn more about the Class of 2015.

Occupational Awards, recognizing organizations for their collective safety achievements and implementation of effective safety policies and procedures. More than 25 organizations were selected this year. View the full list.

The Safe Driver of the Year Award and the Kaplan Award, given to professional drivers for their total driving record, including miles and years driven without a preventable crash. Find out more about these 11 individuals.

To learn more about the NSC Awards program, please visit

Executive Forum: Failure as success, video games among safety innovations

Video games and the idea of embracing failure are just some of the innovations that can help lead to safer workplaces, speakers said during the Executive Forum at the NSC Congress & Expo. The forum was presented by the Campbell Institute, which promotes environmental, health and safety excellence.

“Our challenge from an innovative standpoint is that we define safety incorrectly,” said Todd Conklin, human and organizational performance expert and advisor for Los Alamos National Labs. “What we do is measure safety success by counting the number of people we hurt. That’s stupid.”

Instead of reacting to incidents and injuries, Conklin recommends responding to contexts. Systems should be created in which employers know failure will occur, and then make that failure as safe as possible, he said.

Aaron Walsh suggested that allowing employees to repeatedly experience failure could help with safety training. Walsh, the director of the Immersive Education Initiative, expounded on the merits of virtual reality to better engage workers. Popular video games such as Skyrim and Mirror’s Edge place people in situations in which they must perform certain tasks that resemble lockout/tagout or working from height – gamers must succeed or face dire consequences.

These games and other similar training simulations fully immerse users in an environment. And unlike real life, people using virtual reality training have the opportunity to safely visit the experience again and again to learn.

Sam Smolik, senior vice president for LyondellBasell’s manufacturing and refining operations in the Americas, brought things home by encouraging the setting of a positive culture – one in which employees will want to do things properly all the time. “It’s not about the numbers,” Smolik said. “It’s about people.”

Executive Edge workshops share strategies for engagement and off-the-job safety

Safety professionals who want to make a difference have to look beyond a worksite’s doors and learn how to engage with employees in an increasingly global world.

Two Executive Edge workshops also were presented by the Campbell Institute. The hands-on workshops featured EHS leaders from world-class organizations sharing best practices on both off-the-job safety and employee engagement.During the first workshop, “Living Safely – Comprehensive EHS Strategies On- and Off-the-Job,” experts provided creative solutions to protect both employees and communities at work and at home.

During the second workshop, experts presented “Making Engagement Work – Strategies & Solutions in a Complex World,” which taught attendees how to better engage leaders, employees, contractors and communities in a world with organizations becoming more global and supply chains becoming more complex.

Campbell Institute names award recipient, welcomes new members

Honeywell Aerospace is the recipient of the 2015 Robert W. Campbell Award, presented annually to an organization that showcases excellence in EHS management.

“While Honeywell Aerospace is known for manufacturing world-class products to keep all of us safer in flight, today they are receiving the Campbell Award because they are best-in-class at keeping their workforce safe,” Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council, said in a press release. “Honeywell Aerospace is far along on its Journey to Safety Excellence, yet it still strives to do better – the hallmark of a world-class organization.”

The Campbell Institute also welcomed six new member organizations: AECOM, The Boeing Company, BROWZ, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, Norfolk Southern, and Mosaic.

NSC recognizes 6 safety pros with Distinguished Service to Safety Awards

Each year, the Distinguished Service to Safety Award is given to individuals who have dedicated their careers to improving worker safety within their industries.

NSC Division members, the council board and executive staff can nominate safety professionals for the award. The 2015 recipients are:

Business and Industry Division: Michael Wahl, manager at Lowe’s Home Improvement, has demonstrated his ability to significantly reduce workplace injuries by influencing upper management and supporting divisions, as well as focusing on high-frequency and severity injury types and measuring statistical results.

Campbell Institute: Rich Widdowson, retired, past vice president, safety and environment at Schneider-Electric, directed the safety and environmental efforts at the organization for the North America division – which employs nearly 33,000 workers – for more than 20 years.

Construction Division: Julie Carter, director, environmental safety and health for Roy Anderson Corp., has worked in many industries, including marine, heavy highway, power generation and general building construction. Her mission has been to develop safety culture via teaching, coaching and empowering workers to live safely.

Labor Division: Mark Johnson is the safety and health director for TWU, Local 513. He has provided union safety representatives with the technical information, support and overall direction necessary to develop strong safety and health programs.

The Transportation Division has two honorees for 2015: Michael Cobb and Joseph Mokrisky.

Cobb is vice president, safety and compliance, for Landstar Transportation Logistics Inc. He has spent 22 years working to promote safety and health in the transportation industry. Safety initiatives he implemented at Landstar have helped to significantly reduce crashes.

Mokrisky, president of Capital Motor Carrier Compliance, has worked to establish safety initiatives to reduce preventable injuries and deaths in the commercial motor vehicle field. He started his career as a truck driver more than 30 years ago.

Honorary Lifetime Achievement Award presented to former Labor Division chair

George Kuers of Dorchester, MA, has received the National Safety Council Honorary Lifetime Achievement Award. The award recognizes an NSC member who has made significant contributions to safety, health or the environment through participation in an NSC Division or one of its sections or committees.

Kuers has been active with NSC since 1984. He became the Labor Division chairman in 2006 after serving as its vice chairman in 2005. Kuers also has served on the NSC Board of Delegates and the Labor Division Nominating Committee.