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ASSE Member & Professor Salutes ECU’s Football Team’s Focus on Safety

Posted in , on Fri, Feb 3, 2012

DES PLAINES, IL (February 3, 2012) – Following the tragedy that struck the campus of Notre Dame last October, one college took immediate action to make sure that type of accident never happened on their campus. American Society of Safety Engineers’ (ASSE) member Michael Behm, PhD, CSP, associate professor of Occupational Safety at East Carolina University (ECU) in Greenville, NC, teamed up with ECU Football Coach Ruffin McNeill and two graduate assistants for the football team to develop and present a program to raise awareness about scissor lift safety. Scissor lifts are used to videotape school team practices and games.

“I am very proud of the work these students completed.  It is gratifying to hear our football coach say that safety overrides everything,” Dr. Behm said. “Coach McNeill and his team have done a great job in leading this effort to raise awareness about being safe on and off the field and it’s had a positive impact.” The program was also made available to other schools.

As part of Dr. Behm’s class, the graduate assistants put together a presentation to raise awareness of scissor lift safety with a focus on how lifts operate, operator safety, the importance of training, ongoing inspections, environmental restrictions and safety tools. The full presentation can be found at  Dr. Behm is also a member of the ASSE Council on Professional Affairs, editor of ASSE’s Journal of Safety Health and Environmental Research, and a member of the ASSE Academics Practice Specialty group.

The ECU effort followed the October 28, 2010, tragedy where a Notre Dame student taping a football team practice in an aerial scissor lift died after the lift toppled over amid strong winds. It was reported that the National Weather Service had issued a wind advisory for the day and gusts had reached 51 mph.

That was a horrible tragedy Coach McNeill told staff during the presentation. He said it is important to get the word out, to raise awareness and to educate everyone on the right way, the safe way to operate and use a scissor lift.  McNeill notes the he is a coach and an educator and that what happened at Notre Dame was a tragedy that made us all aware of the risks. “As a coach for 31 years I know people depend on me and I am committed to making sure everyone stays safe,” McNeill said.

“In light of recent news stories that portray the disconnect between academics and athletics, I thought it was important to share how many college athletic departments, such as ECU’s, are actively involved in academics and meeting East Carolina University’s mission on community service through the workshop which was broadcast for other schools,” he said.

Founded in 1911, the 100-year-old Des Plaines, IL-based ASSE is the oldest professional safety society. Its more than 33,000 occupational safety, health and environmental (SH&E) professional members are committed to protecting people, property and the environment.  For more information please go to

Contact: Diane Hurns, 847-768-3413,

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