ASSE to Honor 100 Women Who Made Significant Contributions to Safety
Women who have made an impact on workplace safety are being recognized by the American Society of Safety Engineers. The ceremony coincides with ASSE's centennial celebration.
The list of 100 women is long and varied. They were selected from nominations submitted over the last two years to ASSE's Women in Safety Engineering common interest group.
"There are some women of renowned importance," said Terrie S. Norris, ASSE's president-elect. "A lot are ordinary, everyday heroes who never make the headlines but make a difference every day."
They are, as Norris says, unsung heroes. "They are working for a variety of employers, since safety goes beyond manufacturing" she said. "Women in the construction industry. Women who are working as consultants, in government. Women who are working at entertainment centers."
Many of those selected run corporate safety programs and assess workplace risks. "They're implementing changes to eliminate those risks, conducting training to increase awareness of how employees can protect themselves," Norris said. "They're driving down the possibility that anybody is going to get hurt. They're making sure these workers are able to go home to their families, their loved ones, safe and healthy."
Norris herself is among those being honored. The honorees will be included in a book that is expected to be published in the fall.
The 100 women are pioneers in advancing the cause of occupational safety, health, and the environment. Among them are:
- Frances Perkins. The nation's first female Secretary of Labor began her career in safety after witnessing the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist fire in New York City. The young woman with a B.A. from Mount Holyoke College and a master's in economics and sociology from Columbia University was named New York's industrial commissioner by then-governor Franklin D. Roosevelt. As Labor Secretary under President Roosevelt, Perkins championed programs such as nationwide minimum wage, unemployment insurance laws, maximum workweek of 48 hours, and the right to organize unions. She also chaired the committee that developed and drafted the legislation that later became the Social Security Act of 1935.
- Margaret Carroll. The first woman president of the ASSE started out with dreams of a career in the diplomatic service but instead joined the safety department of the Boeing Co. Carroll said her defining moment came when a supervisor asked her to stand inside a small caged platform she had designed for a remote crane operator. Standing 60 feet high outside an assembly building made her realize the importance of the work. Today she is a consultant in safety engineering and management.
- Kathy A. Seabrook. Seabrook points to Margaret Carroll as one of her sources of inspiration over the years. Credited with being a strategic thinker, leader of teams, builder, collaborator, educator, networker, and conduit for communicating the value of safety and the safety profession around the world, she began her career with a large workers' comp insurer. Seabrook's first account was a contractor building an interstate in Virginia. The experience would lead her to build a road in London. Now with more than 30 years of experience in the safety and health management areas, she is president of Global Solutions Inc. and has received numerous awards for her work.
- Stephanie Kwolek. The American chemist invented Kevlar. Officially called poly-paraphenylene terephtalamide, it is a fiber five times stronger ounce-for-ounce than steel but about half the density of fiberglass. While best known for the material used in making bulletproof vests, Kevlar has other applications. It is used to make personal protective equipment, safety helmets, cut-resistant gloves, brake pads, and mooring and suspension bridge cables. After retiring from DuPont, she continues to consult part time and is respected as a mentor to young scientists.
- Natalie Klein. Known to her friends as Lee, Klein started out as an actress, playing an extra in the Little Rascals TV series. Later, she would go on to be a training aides officer in the U.S. Marine Corps, a water safety instructor, insurance risk control representative, and head of the Cal/OSHA High Hazard Unit. After retiring, Klein became active in the Federal Emergency Management Administration and was involved in the recovery efforts after Hurricane Katrina while in her 70s.
- Terrie S. Norris. "I am the third woman to get to serve as president of the American Society of Safety Engineers," Norris said. "I've been involved in safety since the 1980s." Starting out with aspirations of being a certified public accountant, Norris took a job as a safety and training associate to help fund her education. The rest, as they say, is history. Among her accomplishments, Norris went to a company that had never had a safety program and in 18 months reduced its lost time days by more than 50 percent. She also was able to get one of her employers off a Superfund list. "I was able to prove that the contamination was not coming from us, it was coming from upstream at another company."
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July 5, 2011
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