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WISE Honors WA’s Elaine Cullen as One of 100 Women Making a Difference

Posted in on Fri, Aug 19, 2011

The American Society of Safety Engineers’ (ASSE) Women in Safety Engineering (WISE) Common Interest Group has honored 100 women from around the world for making a difference in safety, health and the environment (SH&E).  Elaine Cullen, PhD, of Chattaroy, WA, was honored for her lifelong dedication to protecting people, property and the environment.

Cullen has more than 40 years of experience in the safety, health and environmental (SH&E) field and is currently the owner and President of Prima Consulting Services in Chattaroy, WA.  In this role, she provides training and development services for high-risk industries, encouraging best practices for effective safety and health programs.  Cullen has experience in the mining, oil and gas and commercial fishing industries.  Cullen also works as a federal occupational consultation for the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  She has a B.A. in English literature and psychology, and N.D. in engineering and computer science, an M.B.A. in business management and a PhD in leadership studies, all from Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA.

In her first safety and health job, Cullen worked with the Bureau of Mines in Spokane, WA, writing computer code for a project in underground coal and analyzing accident and injury statistics for the mining industry.  This project sparked her interest in mining and she continued to pursue working in safety and health in the mines themselves, though the industry was male dominated and it was illegal for women to work underground.  Eventually, Cullen received funding for her research and documentary work by NIOSH and she developed new training materials, working with mine crews to capture the reality of their jobs.

Cullen’s work has received much notoriety, including a Telly Award she received for her documentary exploring the 1972 Sunshine Mine fire, where 91 miners lost their lives in one of the worst mining disasters of the 20th Century.  This documentary was featured on PBS.

Cullen is an active member of ASSE’s Inland Northwest chapter and works diligently to raise awareness about the importance of occupational safety and health. When asked about being honored as one of 100 women making a difference in safety, Cullen stated, “I am immensely honored to be included among the 100 women selected by WISE.  We’ve made great progress in worker health and safety in the past 100 years, but our work isn’t finished. It is comforting to know there are so many smart and dedicated professionals working to make workplace safety a reality for all.”

The ‘100 Women, Making a Difference in Safety’ project honors women who have dedicated their careers to promoting innovation in safety, health and environmental issues.  The valuable contributions of women to the SH&E profession have been recognized through this project and later this year WISE will consolidate the profiles of all 100 honorees into a single publication, titled 100 Women, Making a Difference in the Safety, Health and Environmental Profession as part of ASSE’s (1911-2011) 100th anniversary.

WISE was established to foster the advancement of women in the SH&E profession.  For more information about WISE and upcoming events, please visit

Founded in 1911 and celebrating its centennial, the Des Plaines, IL-based ASSE is the oldest professional safety society and is committed to protecting people, property and the environment.  Its more than 34,000 occupational safety, health and environmental professional members lead, manage, supervise, research and consult on safety, health, transportation and environmental issues in all industries, government, labor, healthcare and education.  For more information, please go to and to view the new ASSE – A Century of Safety film go to


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