• Information Date
  • Presented To
  • Speaker(s)
    Donald Shalhoub
  • Status
Archive Notice - OSHA Archive

NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.

"Safety is Good Business"

As Prepared for Delivery
Donald Shalhoub.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor
Occupational Safety and Health Administration

Frances Perkins Building
Washington, D.C.
Monday, May 5, 2008


Good morning, and welcome, everyone, to the official start of the 2008 North American Occupational Safety and Health Week. This is the 12th anniversary of NAOSH Week. NAOSH Week was launched in June 1997 through an agreement with Canada, the United States and Mexico.

I want to welcome our special guests in the audience: the many young people, including the winners of the American Society of Safety Engineers' annual ASSE Kids' "Safety on the Job" poster contest. It is wonderful to have you here today, and in just a few minutes we are going to put you in the spotlight because I know that you have important things to say about workplace safety and health. I hope you are having a delightful visit here in Washington, D.C.

I also would like everyone to join me in welcoming my colleagues and co-sponsors of NAOSH Week: Michael Thompson, President of the American Society of Safety Engineers, and Andrew Cooper, Secretary of the Canadian Society of Safety Engineering. I appreciate their being here, and in a few minutes we will hear why NAOSH Week is important to them and their distinguished organizations.

Also In our audience is the President-Elect of ASSE, Warren Brown. Welcome, Warren, and congratulations and good luck in your important new leadership role.

Congratulations as well to Patrick Voight, President-Elect of the Association of PeriOperative Registered Nurses. Welcome and good luck too you as well, Patrick, and thank you for your association's support of NAOSH Week.

I also want to recognize the representatives from our many NAOSH Week supporting organizations who are in the audience. About a dozen supporting organizations are represented here today, and many of them are participants in OSHA's Alliance Program. More than 45 of our Alliance Program participants are supporting NAOSH Week in order to demonstrate their commitment to workplace safety and health and are sharing the NAOSH Week message with their members and the public through their websites, news releases and publications.

Among these Alliance Program participants, we have in our audience today representatives of the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), the Club Managers Association of America, the National Safety Council, and SkillsUSA.

ASSE members and other participants in OSHA's Alliance Program recognize how embracing workplace safety and health helps prevent workplace injuries, illnesses and fatalities. Our Canadian partner certainly understands this concept. CSSE's Canadian Occupational Health and Safety Week had been observed for ten years before NAOSH Week began.

Now, through NAOSH Week, Canada, Mexico and the United States are combining their experience, enthusiasm and resources. All this week and throughout the year, scores of major organizations across our vast continent will sponsor an international series of events. Our combined efforts will raise awareness of the importance of workplace safety and health, and the value of safety, health and environmental professionals who strive every day to protect North America's working men and women. Together, we have the opportunity and potential to affect the lives of millions of employees in countless industries by encouraging improved safety and health practices in the workplace every day.

This year the theme of NAOSH Week is "Safety is Good Business." This theme echoes OSHA's message that preventive workplace safety and health practices not only save lives but also save jobs.

In recent years many studies have been conducted, and statistics compiled, to link prevention with savings. OSHA has posted some of the best of these studies and data on our website. Our Safety and Health Topics page, "Making the Business Case for Workplace Safety and Health," includes case studies, success stories and other evidence to back up the message that "Safety is Good Business." By the way, our "Making the Business Case" page is a product of our Alliance Program. ASSE, AIHA and other Alliance members worked with OSHA to make this website a powerful portal for information that employers and employees can use to stay safe and healthy.

As Assistant Secretary [of Labor for OSHA] Ed Foulke says, "Even one injury or fatality on the job is one too many."

Since we launched this page in fall 2006, the site has recorded over 41,000 visits. I hope everyone here today takes a moment during NAOSH Week and throughout the year to visit this website, explore its resources, and share the important information with every safety and health professional and employer that you encounter all year long.

In January of this year, OSHA added an exciting feature to its "Making the Business Case" webpage: our new "Safety Pays" eTool. We designed this online calculator to help employers estimate savings earned by preventing occupational injuries. Businesses can use the information from the "Safety Pays" eTool to predict the indirect costs of injuries and calculate the sales needed to compensate for these losses. This eTool reinforces the evidence of numerous studies that clearly show how productivity, profitability, strong safety and health performance, respect for employees, respect for customers, and social responsibility are all connected.

The many young people who are in our audience today remind us that the chief goal of NAOSH Week is priceless: Every employee who comes home, safe and healthy at the end of the workday, is someone's family member, neighbor, or friend.

Fathers and mothers ache to part with their children as they go to work each day. Throughout the working day, adults think about their children and worry about keeping them safe and healthy. The safety posters that these children have created through the ASSE contest remind us that our children miss us, too. While we are at work and they are in school or daycare, the safety and health of the adults in their lives is precious to children. They are counting on mom and dad and their brothers and sisters to come home to them every day. In no small sense, every child and adult is also counting on us.

These posters remind us also that these young people are the future - tomorrow's working men and women - and so it is never too early to teach the next generation how and why to put "safety first."

In just a few years, many of the young people in our audience and across our continent will enter the working world through summer jobs. Thousands each year receive their first paycheck this way. For these new, inexperienced employees, a lot of workplace hazards will be unfamiliar to them. This is why 3 years ago OSHA initiated a multi-year Teen Summer Job Safety Campaign to raise awareness of the need to ensure the safety and health of young people working in summer jobs. The campaign helps educate teenagers about the importance of workplace safety and health habits that will help protect them and their coworkers.

Two weeks ago, on April 21, Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, Ed Foulke, and representatives of SkillsUSA held a gala campaign kick-off on Rockefeller Plaza in New York City. That morning, Secretary Chao delivered the message of Teen Summer Job Safety to millions of TV viewers on the TODAY show. At Rockefeller Plaza, and in 10 cities across the country, OSHA, with the support of SkillsUSA, ASSE and others, held public events to demonstrate safe work practices and to remind parents, teachers, teens and employers of the importance of providing teens with proper training and protective equipment on the job.

Through working with many strong national and regional Alliance Program participants and other cooperative programs, OSHA plans to reach more than three million teens.

OSHA's website and several Alliance participant worksites - including Skills USA and ASSE - offer links to information on teen job safety, which echoes the spirit of NAOSH Week.

NAOSH Week reminds us that keeping employees of all ages safe and healthy is good business.

Now, let us meet some fine representatives of our next generation:

I am happy to see that the winners of the annual ASSE Kids' NAOSH "Safety-on-the-Job" poster contest have the right attitude about safety and health in the working world. The entries are from young people who have someone in their family who is a member of ASSE. This is a great way to focus attention each year on NAOSH Week's mission.

I am pleased to present to you the winning posters for 2008 and their talented creators:
Victoria Benigno, age 6, of Cherry Hill, New Jersey. POSTER: "Construction Cats Wear Hard Hats."

Tiffany Jade Heishman, age 7, of Strasburg, Virginia. POSTER: "Think Safety."

Immanuel Adriana Rakshana, age 10, from Kuwait. POSTER: "Fortune Strikes Where Safety Thrives."

Robin Newman, age 11, of Madison, Alabama. POSTER: "Safety in Different Languages."

Meghan Baker, age 13, of Perth-Andover, New Brunswick, Canada. POSTER: "Daddy Coming Home in One Piece - Priceless."
As these posters illustrate with great clarity and power, workplace safety and health is something we can all understand - and something very important to people of all ages.

I would like to invite all the student artists here today to stand up, face the audience, look proud of what you have accomplished, and take a well-deserved bow...

It is now my pleasure to introduce someone who has made a lifelong career as an engineer. He has been a member of ASSE for 16 years, he has served on the association's planning, development, finance and standards development committees, and he has served on ASSE's task forces for Diversity & Inclusion and Student Member activities. In industry, he has worked as a safety official and training coordinator in a hospital, a university, and for major oil companies. He has served on the Risk Management and Insurance Committee for the Boy Scouts of America. This is a man truly "engineered for success" in workplace safety and health. Please join me in welcoming the President of the American Society of Safety Engineers and a co-chairman of NAOSH Week: MICHAEL THOMPSON.

Now we are going to hear from the Secretary of the Canadian Society of Safety Engineering. He started his 20-year professional safety career serving the City of London, Ontario. Later, he joined the Industrial Accident Prevention Association (IAPA), where he worked as a senior management system consultant. In 1996, he led the internal investigation into the death of a young worker following an explosion at a municipal arena. The investigation findings led to improvements to public and worker safety in recreational facilities all across Canada. He also played a leadership role in the renewal of Ontario's Young Worker Awareness Program, and in the development of IAPA's Young Worker Health and Safety Forum. Today he is the National Health and Safety Manager for Acklands-Grainger Inc. in Edmonton, Alberta. He is a certified health and safety consultant, a Professional Member of CSSE, and an international member of ASSE. Please join me in welcoming Canada's 2008 NAOSH Week Chairperson: ANDREW COOPER.

Thank you, everyone, for attending this morning. Congratulations to the poster contest winners and runners-up.

This concludes our NAOSH Week kick-off event here in the Department of Labor, but it is only the beginning of a week-long and year-long effort to promote workplace safety and health.

There are a number of NAOSH Week tools available on the webpages of our co-chairs' organizations. I encourage you to please use the posters, fact sheets and other materials to communicate with employers and employees.

I want to thank all the organizations and the Alliance Program participants that are supporting NAOSH Week this year and every year through your individual organization's activities. Your efforts are saving lives and touching thousands of people in important ways that we can never know. This is a priceless legacy to leave the next generation.

This closes our festivities here this morning, but our celebration of 2008 NAOSH Week is just beginning.

Thank you for coming.

# # #