ASSE Mobilizes To Build Safety Awareness

ASSE members will be spotlighting occupational safety and health\r\nthrough planned education efforts across the continent during the month of May.

The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) announced that its members will be spotlighting occupational safety and health through planned education efforts across the continent during the second annual North American Occupational Safety and Health (NAOSH) Week May 6 - 12.

Many of ASSE''s 32,000 members will be demonstrating the benefits of disseminating key safety information and highlighting borderless occupational safety "best practices" throughout that week and are encouraging other organizations and federal and state entities to participate.

"We live in a global society where safety knows no borders," said ASSE President Samuel Gualardo. "Today, society and the marketplace are demanding safer places in which to work and to live resulting in safer products and safer workplaces. But people are still being injured and killed on the job, that needs to be stopped." The purpose of this multinational awareness week is to promote the need to protect employees by preventing work-related injuries and illnesses and to build greater awareness of the positive bottom-line impact of effective safety and health management programs.

During May ASSE will be working with the Canadian Society of Safety Engineering (CSSE) to get the word out about global safety.

ASSE is preparing a mobile exhibit of photos from members illustrating various workplaces and different forms of safety awareness and risk.

Members will also be working with other organizations in distributing safety information along key North American transportation corridors including Interstate 5 in the west, I-35 in the central U.S. and I-95 in the east.

ASSE members will also be working with employers to spread the word. Specifically, the ASSE Central Texas Chapter will be recognizing outstanding efforts of local safety professionals which last year included representatives from Motorola, IBM and Semiconductor.

Many ASSE members work for companies with international operations and provide professional safety services around the globe.

For instance, ASSE member Michael F. Johnson of San Antonio, Texas, delivers several occupational safety and health presentations and classes in Spanish in Mexico at universities and to engineering organizations in conjunction with St. Mary''s University of San Antonio.

ASSE member Rixio Medina, manager of health and safety Services for CITGO Petroleum Corporation in Corpus Christi, Texas, not only represented ASSE at the North American Occupational Safety and Health tri-national conference in Mexico City last May, but also traveled last summer with a CITGO hourly employee to Belize, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Honduras in a trip sponsored by the Department of Labor to meet with governmental officials and business and labor union representatives.

"Many countries do not have the same occupational safety and health regulations that we have -- which have resulted in a major reduction of injuries and fatalities over the years. Yet, many companies in these countries and their governments have recognized their benefit and have asked for assistance," said Medina. "For instance we worked on several aspects of safety with the Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) including process safety management where we''ve shared our experience, written standards and protocols, served as hosts at our facilities, and helped them conduct self-assessments and progress reviews. We''ve also helped in several other areas including safe work practices and the behavioral safety process."

ASSE''s reach crosses all borders and safety issues. In mid-March ASSE President Samuel Gualardo will be addressing the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health''s (IOSH) annual conference and exhibition titled "New Challenges for the New Millennium: The Human Rights Act and Revitalizing Health and Safety" at the Bournemouth International Center in England.

Last fall ASSE joined with IOSH in hosting an international conference on contractor safety in London.

The Director of the European Agency on Safety and Health at Work Horst Konkolwesky will address attendees at the annual ASSE Conference in Anaheim, Calif., the second week of June as well as participating in a forum at the conference on key issues facing safety, health, and environmental professionals that extend beyond the borders of the United States. This is being sponsored by ASSE''s international practice specialty.

Likewise, ASSE''s Puerto Rico Chapter President Miguel Rubio, CSP, will be addressing the V International Congress of COSSMAP (Consejo de Salud, Seguidad y Medio Ambiente de Panama -- the Environmental Safety and Health Council of Panama) in Panama City this July on several workplace safety issues.

"These are just a few of the activities ASSE is involved with on an international level," said Gualardo. "We urge everyone to join us, no matter what age you are, in spreading the word about the importance of occupational safety and health. It affects all of us, our youth that may be starting their first job this summer and children who have working parents -- they face risks every day. The workplace cannot be easily categorized either. Drivers must always be aware of emergency personnel on the roads, construction workers in work zones, flight attendants in the air, amusement park workers, zookeepers, and the list goes on and on. The point is, occupational safety should be a top priority for management and holding management firmly accountable for worker and workplace safety plays a key role in the whole process.

"We want to help with that process by providing information, tools, best practices and our extensive resources," continued Gualardo.

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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