Kids for safety - in US, Canada and Oman

This week on Capitol Hill, five children stood amongst the towering pinstriped legs of officials from the American Society of Safety Engineers' (ASSE), U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Canadian Society of Safety Engineering (CSSE) and OSHA Alliance members representing more than 134,000 businesses.

These kids, ranging in age from 5 to 15, are four Americans and one teen from Oman - and they're as much as part of the launch ceremony of the 10th annual North American Occupational Safety and Health (NAOSH) Week as the suits surrounding them.

After all, their gorgeous and impactful artwork was chosen by the ASSE - America's oldest and largest society of safety professionals - to run on the NAOSH Week '07 poster, Be Safe at Work.

Four of the winners were grade school students from the US, but one international student won for the 13-14 age category: Deepika Rathna Gandhavalla from Muscat, Oman, for a 'Work Safely' cartoon strip (shown here).

I think it's a terrific idea to get kids involved in safety - the younger the better!!

I know personally about the power of youth - how they can teach so much to the adults in their lives. I remember fondly one Take Your Kids to Work Day (back when I was a business owner) when one visiting teen, Tahara, who is from from an immigrant family and is mentally and physically challenged, drew me a picture with a happy face and the words, "Thanks for keeping Dad and me safe today."

These days I spend all year traveling the continent to speak about safety since my own teen died on the job eight years ago. I choose to focus on tomorrow's workers, leaders and safety champions with the not-profit foundation I founded, called Our Youth at Work.

After I visit a high school, I routinely receive hundreds of letters from students; here's an excerpt from one such letter, from a student who recently performed in a high school play about workplace safety:

"To be honest I did learn a lot while rehearsing and performing the Young Worker Safety play. Before, I didn't know many of the... warning symbols and I was unaware of how dangerous some chemicals could be... I learned that you should not play around with equipment or machinery on the job, even if you know what it is. I also learned that all the workers need to be trained fully in order to be able to work safely; they also need to be responsible for their learning like having their safety manuals or instructions.

"But the most important lesson that I had learned was that life is not a Joke. A person really needs to be aware of what they are doing and not to do something that can jeopardize safety, especially teenagers, because we are the young ones.  We most certainly need to take good care of ourselves because we should be around for a long time. We shouldn't be ending our lives just as they begin or having a future full of sorrow and pain because of an injury."

"Life is not a Joke." From the mouths of babes, indeed.

So to everyone - young and not as young ;) - Happy North American Safety and Occupational Week! (Incidentally, it may be the 10th annual such week in the US, but it was celebrated for 10 years before that in Canada, hosted by the Canadian Society of Safety Engineering.)

Posted by Laurie on May 9,2007 at 8:01 AM

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