The founders of the National Safety Council gathered together for the first time in 1912. That year, approximately 20,000 people died every year from injuries suffered at work. Last year, said McMillan, with four times the number of working people as in 1912, fewer than 5,000 work-related deaths occurred.
Times have changed for the safety professional, said McMillan. "In 1950…more than twice as many workers died off the job than on the job. About 15,000 workers died of injuries on the job, and 30,000 workers died off the job." Since the 1950s, worker deaths have been reduced by two-thirds, he added. "But worker deaths off the job have increased to more than 43,000…a staggering increase of 43 percent."
He reminded safety professionals that as a family, they live in two worlds: the world at work and the world away from work. "We have made great progress in reducing injuries at work because that has been our primary focus. We must now bring that focus and intensity to reducing injuries off the job," McMillan suggested.
He then announced two new NSC initiatives that he hopes will help safety professionals improve safety at work and in the home: A new awards program that recognizes global leadership in safety and a new Court TV public service initiative called "Keep America Safe: Safe Homes, Safe Streets, Safe Kids."
"I told you that I believe we can make a huge impact in the world of off the job safety if we could only apply the same focus to it as we do to safety at work. I believe, in fact, I know," said McMillan, "that over the next 10 years we will make this impact and we will save many lives. And it is our responsibility to do it."