2018 NSC Congress & Expo, McRaven keynote
Photo: International Center for the Documentary Arts

A look back at the 2018 NSC Congress & Expo

November 27, 2018

‘Don’t quit,’ former Navy SEAL commander urges; NSC’s Hersman asks, ‘What do you see?’

If they want to quit, the only thing Navy SEAL trainees have to do is ring a bell. That simple act ends the 5 a.m. wake-up calls, the pain and the mental rigors.

Speaking before a capacity crowd on Oct. 22 during the Opening Session of the 2018 National Safety Council Congress & Expo in Houston, retired Adm. William H. McRaven implored safety professionals to avoid that temptation.

“If you want to be successful in life, never, ever ring the bell,” said McRaven, a former Navy SEAL and commander of the Joint Special Operations Command. “Follow your dreams. Give it everything you got. Just don’t quit.”

McRaven, the commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command in 2011 who helped organize the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan, explained how managing risk was involved in the mission. He told the helicopter pilots transporting the SEALs that they were going to get their men to the target safely.

“‘At the end of the day, safety is paramount if this mission is going to succeed,” McRaven said. “You’ve got to get them there safely. I can’t tell you how many of the pilots have come back after that and said, ‘That is the first time we had that sort of guidance.’”

McRaven summed up his lessons at the end of the speech: “Start each day with a task completed. Find someone to help you through the day. Find someone to help you battle. Respect everyone. Know that you will fail. Take some risks. Lift up the downtrodden. Face down the bullies. And never, ever quit.”

NSC President and CEO Deborah A.P. Hersman began the Opening Session by talking about seeing hazards clearly and not giving in to complacency.

“We are becoming blind to everyday hazards,” Hersman said, later using the opioid epidemic as an example. “Hazards in the modern workplace are not as obvious. As we become more sophisticated, hazards become more subtle.”

She asked the crowd to remember a simple set of questions: What do you see? What does it mean? What are you going to do about it?

Dovetailing with Hersman’s remarks, NSC Chairman Mark Vergnano talked about a 360-degree vision to safety. “Make safety not just a priority, but the priority,” he said.

‘Several lifetimes of dedication’: NSC honors 6 safety professionals with Distinguished Service to Safety Award


The National Safety Council awarded its highest honor to six safety professionals during the Opening Session on Oct. 22.

The Distinguished Service to Safety Award annually recognizes “exemplary efforts and success in improving safety and health at work, on the road, and in the home and community.” This year’s nominations were gathered from the public and NSC members, then reviewed by the council’s Division committees.

The recipients:

Mack Cowan Jr.
Scientific Director
Texas Breath Alcohol 
 Testing Program
Texas Department of Public Safety

Brian L. Fielkow
Jetco Delivery

Glenn A. Murray
Senior Fellow
The Campbell Institute

Tim Page-Bottorff
Senior Safety Consultant

Senior Master Sgt. Leubinka Romero
55th Wing Safety Directorate
Offutt Air Force Base, NE

Dave Trumble
Vice President
Grey Bruce Labour Council

The award was first presented in 1942 to recognize individuals and companies that worked to reduce occupational injuries during World War II. For more information, go to the NSC.org website.

Linda F. Martin receives Marion Martin Award

Linda F. Martin is the recipient of the 2018 Marion Martin Award, presented annually by the National Safety Council Women’s Caucus to honor the professional achievements of women in safety. Martin received the award Oct. 22.

Martin is the corporate safety director at Bay Crane and a principal industrial hygienist at her own consulting firm, KLME Martin Associates. She also is a faculty member and course curriculum designer at Columbia Southern University, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Keene State College.

Adding to her lengthy and multifaceted résumé, Martin is the president of the Board of Certified Safety Professionals’ board of directors and a doctoral student in safety sciences at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Martin has more than 25 years of experience in the environmental, health and safety field, working primarily in construction, general industry and consulting. Along with her CSP and CIH certifications, she also is a Certified Hazardous Materials Manager and a certified geologist in three states.

“Linda continues to foster and advance other safety professionals,” said Kathy Bernstein, director of volunteers, awards and scholarships at NSC. “She has demonstrated the highest commitment to safety as a global core value in the world of EHS, and in engaging women, young professionals, returning veterans and professionals from other industries to join and advance the field of safety.”

The Marion Martin Award was established in 2016.

‘Safety 3’: The evolution of – and challenges for – safety

Understanding risks and relying on human intelligence instead of only technological advances likely will play significant roles in the future of safety, SAFEmap International CEO Corrie Pitzer said Oct. 23 during the Leadership Keynote.

However, he added: “In safety, we don’t know what we don’t know.”

Pitzer guided the audience on a journey through different evolutions of safety and what he called “Safety 3,” coming sometime in the next 15 to 20 years.

In every evolution, safety professionals can hit a wall, he said. In the case of “Safety 2,” that wall is the increase in on-the-job fatalities over the past three years.

One of the root causes, Pitzer said, is that we are “paralyzed by protection.”

“Our employees don’t understand risk because we protect them,” Pitzer said. “They have to get back to understanding risk.”

Although technology such as driverless cars could mitigate some risk, it also might allow people to turn off their brains, Pitzer said, noting that “technology will never have a heart and never make the moral choice.”

For example, he showed a slide of a company potentially ready for the forthcoming changes. That organization used goals such as looking beyond numbers (i.e., total recordables), focusing on “high consequence” harm/potential, and understanding that people are the strongest link.

The passion for safety remains a strong tool, Pitzer said, and “will take us into the future.”

‘The unpredictability of storms’ and other lessons learned from Hurricane Harvey

Before Hurricane Harvey came ashore in August 2017 in Harris County, TX, its ferocity was not a constant.

When hurricanes form, “we have a 120-hour window” to get people out, said fomer Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, who presented the Occupational Keynote on Oct. 24. “Harvey was a hurricane, then it came across [Mexico’s] Yucatan Peninsula and dissipated, went back to a tropical storm and nobody was worried,” said Emmett, who also serves as the county’s director of homeland security and emergency management. “Then, within 48 hours, it was a Category 4 hurricane. For six nights, it was brutal.”

According to the Harris County Flood Control District website, the county’s maximum rain measurement for seven days during Harvey was 47.4 inches, and more than two dozen rain gauges around the county measured at least 40 inches.

The unpredictability of storms such as Harvey was one of the key lessons Emmett and his team learned. The first, and perhaps most important, lesson Emmett shared was the need for constant communication.

“Communication between all the groups involved (is important),” he said. “Communication among the city, county, state, the Red Cross and everybody is vital. What’s more vital is the communication to the public. The public has to know what is going on.”

With a major disaster, media coverage and failures of various agencies can cause hurdles. Emmett said it’s important for teams to avoid such distractions. “When you’re in the midst of a crisis, you need to be solving the crisis,” he said.

During most emergency situations, Emmett believes in letting trained team members do their jobs and empowering them to make decisions. “Don’t let them be afraid of doing their job,” he said.

Whether it is working with his staff, other agencies or the public, Emmett said people are the most important factor.

“In the end, it always comes back to people,” he said. “How we respond to a crisis comes back to people – us, the people who work for us and the people we serve.”

Some of the most rewarding work he has done, Emmett said, has been dealing with emergencies.

“You all understand safety,” he told the audience. “That’s your life.

‘Best in Show’ New Product Showcase Awards

After 7,000 votes were cast for 111 products from 77 companies, the results for the 2018 “Best in Show” New Product Showcase Awards were revealed Oct. 23.

The showcase allowed exhibitors to highlight their newest and most innovative safety products, services and technologies. Voting was available both online and onsite.


Company: MSA
Product: MSA V-EDGE Self-Retracting Lifeline (SRL)
Description: Engineered and tested for foot-level tie off, V-EDGE SRL can be used in a variety of applications, from overhead and horizontal tie-off points to where sharp edges are a concern. The retraction dampening feature controls speed of lifeline, preventing unwanted damage. Internal components can be replaced onsite, reducing repair downtime.


Company: Werner Co.
Product: MaxPatrol Leading Edge SRL Line
Description: Safety patrol your work zone and leading edge hazards at the pace of your work. Approved for use over steel beam, precast concrete and B-deck. Minimizes fall arrest distance to less than 24 inches when used overhead. Impact-resistant polymer housing with swivel top. Meets ANSI Z359.14-2014 SRD-LE and ANSI Z359.14, Class A, as well as OSHA standards.


Company: Kimberly-Clark Professional
Product: Maverick Eye Protection
Description: Don’t underestimate the power of style. Your workers need protection, but they also care about how they look. Maverick Eye Protection, the first eyewear created for the KleenGuard™ Brand, delivers confident protection without compromising style or comfort. It’s the PPE that workers will want to wear. With Maverick Eye Protection, compliance never has looked so good.