August 2014

As chief elected officer of the Society, ASSE's president promotes the advancement of the Society and the safety profession, and represents ASSE before members, other relevant professional societies and various governmental agencies. Professional Safety shares his latest thoughts on the Society, the profession and its practice.

Read past messages in the President's Message Archive.

President's Message - December 2005

Why do we not see front-page stories decrying the carnage on our roadways? Have we become a culture that accepts the risk of death if you drive a motor vehicle?

2005-2006 ASSE President Jack H. Dobson, Jr., CSP

A Concert of Epidemic Proportions

As SH&E professionals, we feel an inner pain any time we learn about a fatality. During the last week of October, I learned of forklift-related fatalities at two different plants in our area and the tragic motor-vehicle-related death of the son of one of our workers. These tragedies grab our attention more when they occur close to home. Any fatality is unacceptable and we must do all we can to prevent such incidents.

However, we have a much larger problem on our hands. In my mind, it is an epidemic of sorts and on a gigantic scale. In our country, more than 42,000 people are killed each year in motor-vehicle crashes. On-the-job motor-vehicle crashes account for the largest number of work-related fatalities-approximately 1,800 to 2,000 deaths per year. Surprisingly, only about 40 percent of these fatalities occur in the transportation industry. The remaining 60 percent are folks like salespersons, home healthcare nurses, machinery service technicians, etc.

Why, then, do we not see front-page stories decrying the carnage on our roadways? Have we become a culture that accepts the risk of death if you drive a motor vehicle? Is the problem just so commonplace that it is no longer newsworthy? Regardless, as SH&E professionals, we must strive to make changes-to make a difference.

At the ASSE national level, we have made great strides in providing information that we all can use to combat this epidemic. ASSE has published an informative brochure that we can share with our companies, community groups, youth organizations and members of the general public. A PowerPoint presentation on CD-ROM that addresses teen driving is available as well. We are seizing every opportunity to speak out on the need for safer driving practices.

Regions, areas, chapters, sections and student sections can be instrumental in spreading the word about the paramount importance of motor-vehicle safety and the need to drastically reduce the number of people killed in motor vehicles. Sharing the CD with school districts and having SH&E professionals talk with teen drivers could go a long way in educating our young drivers and giving them reasons to consciously think about safety while behind the wheel.

In the workplace, we can spread the word through company newsletters, check mailers, posters, safe driving themes during all-employee meetings, toolbox safety meetings that address driving safety. The list is endless. Education and awareness play a tremendous role in slowing the national traffic death toll.

SH&E professionals can make a difference. We must start now and never give up. With thousands of lives at stake, we cannot do anything less. We must talk the talk, and walk the walk. Drive safe and buckle up.

Happy holiday seasons to all.

Jack H. Dobson, Jr., CSP