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ASSE Art Contest Winners Focus on Today’s Job Safety, Reflect on Yesterday’s Child Labor

Posted in on Mon, Feb 28, 2011

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                    Contact:  Diane Hurns, 847-768-3413,

 DES PLAINES, IL (February 28, 2011) – In 1911, one hundred years ago, more than two million American children under the age of 16 were working – many of them 12 hours or more, six days a week, according to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). The DOL notes that they often worked in unhealthy and hazardous conditions for minuscule wages. Today, members of the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) continue to work to enhance work safety for all, including teen workers. The record-breaking number of entrants in this year’s 9th annual ASSE kids ‘safety-on-the-job’ poster contest not only illustrate work safety today, but reflect on a century of changes made in safety as ASSE celebrates its 100th anniversary.

Contest winner posters featured in international NAOSH 2011 Poster.

Out of the hundreds of posters received from the U.S. and nine other countries, the 20 winners of the kids’ “safety-on-the-job” poster contest for children aged 5-14 showed they understand the importance of being safe at work today and are aware of the strides made in safety this century. The grand prize winners, who receive a $5,000 savings bond, are:

  • Noah Brobst, 5, of Trafford, PA, in the 5-6 age group;
  • Tamaya Olivia Bush, 8, of Fort Mill, SC (whose brother won last year) in the 7-8 age group;
  • Tiffany Jade Heishman, 10, of Strasburg, VA (another winner from Shockey Companies) in the 9-10 age group;
  • Angela G. Sevilla, 12, of Jubail, Saudi Arabia, in the 11-12 age group; and
  • Robin Newman, 14, of Madison, AL (a repeat winner) in the 13-14 age group.

As ASSE celebrates its centennial this year, it is looking back at the tragedies and successes in work safety in the past 100 years. One of those tragedies was the horrific March 25, 1911, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire that took the lives of 146 women and men unable to escape the fire due to locked doors and inadequate safety protections. Many jumped to their deaths to the street below. As a result of the fire, ASSE was founded just months later in New York City by several safety professionals with a goal of enhancing work safety for all. Today ASSE has more than 32,000 occupational safety, health and environmental professional members located worldwide. Go to to see the ASSE documentary.

As for child labor, in the early 1900’s young girls worked in mills,  in danger of slipping and losing a finger or a foot while standing on top of machines to change bobbins; or of being scalped if their hair got caught, according to the DOL. In the coal mines, young ‘breaker boys’ could be smothered, or crushed, by huge piles of coal. And, the DOL notes, a boy of 12 could be sent down into the mines where they faced the threat of cave-ins and explosions.

ASSE continues to educate young people about work safety then and now and the need to be safe at work. Today, not only have smart businesses developed and implement effective work safety programs, but laws aimed at protecting workers were developed and implemented; and the safety profession has grown immensely to become an integral part of any organization.

Not only do the poster winners receive prizes, but their messages which range from the importance of safety belts, to  the danger of texting while driving and keeping safety in our hearts will be shared worldwide on the North American Occupational Safety and Health (NAOSH) Week poster (available for free at or by contacting NAOSH Week’s theme is ‘Celebrating a Century of Safety’ and runs from May 1-7, 2011. The poster winners, entrants, ASSE members, ASSE leadership, U.S. Department of Labor officials, legislators, corporate partners and regulators will honor the winners at ASSE NAOSH kick-off events in Washington, D.C., at the U.S. Capitol, the DOL, the National Zoo and the National Gallery of Art.

 The May D.C. events will focus on the past and the future of work safety. According to the DOL, when Congress created the federal DOL in 1913, one of its primary goals was the administration of legal child labor and the elimination of illegal practices. It was noted that Secretary of Labor William B. Wilson (1913-1921), was a breaker-boy in the Anthracite coal fields of PA, that his successor James Davis (1921-1930) was a “puddler” as a boy in a steel mill in Pittsburgh; and, Frances Perkins, the first woman cabinet officer in U.S. history, met immigrant girls on the docks of Philadelphia as a young social worker to prevent pimps from recruiting them as prostitutes

The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 established a minimum wage and limited the age of child laborers to 16 and over, 18 for hazardous occupations. Children 14 and 15 years old were permitted to work in certain occupations after school. Go to ASSE’s web site to view information on labor laws and teen worker safety.

Founded 100 years ago in New York City following the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire that killed 146 women and men, the Des Plaines, IL-based ASSE is the oldest professional safety organization and is committed to protecting people, property and the environment. Its more than 32,000 occupational safety, health and environmental professional members manage, supervise, research and consult on safety, health, transportation and environmental issues in all industries, government, labor and education. For a full listing of the 20 poster contest winners and their posters please go to , and for more information. For a copy of the NAOSH poster please contact or 847-699-2929.

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