ASSE Safety 2012 Highlights

By Erin Earley | 11th Jun 2012

Last week's Safety 2012 conference was a record-breaking event. It was ASSE's largest expo ever, with over 500 exhibitors covering 80,000 square feet of space, and the conference reached the second highest number of attendees in ASSE conference history. Here at Clarion, we're proud to have been among the thousands of environment, health and safety professionals who traveled to Denver, CO from around the world to be at this important gathering and discuss our common goal: sending workers home safely to their families at the end of each day. With an exhibition hall full of the latest safety tools and methods, the opportunity to network with the best minds in safety, and hundreds of educational sessions, there were more takeaways and words of wisdom shared than we can name here.

Here's just a brief snapshot of some of the highlights of Safety 2012 –from our viewpoint here at Clarion – as well as some of the notable quotes we heard:

  • At a luncheon session, Clarion presented a short video on "The Power of Safety Semiotics", inviting attendees to learn about semiotics –  the science of how signs and symbols communicate – and how intelligently applied safety communication can make a difference to reduce accidental injuries and deaths.

  • "The object isnt to comply. It's to make safety an integral part of safety management," OSHA Chief David Michaels said in his plenary session, where he stressed that creating a safety culture is key. Michaels also discussed safety standards, saying that when visiting with employers, they often tell them that OSHA standards dont represent "a level of safety", adding that many employers look to other standards, like ANSI standards, for better protection.
  • Throughout the expo and conference, we had the opportunity to speak with other safety professionals and engineers to learn about their work, their hazards, and the ways we can use Clarion expertise in semiotics to help set the new benchmark for safety sign systems across different industries.

Safety 2012 - Clarion Booth

  • Clarion president Geoffrey Peckham, along with Ann Minzner Conley, CSP, Chubb & Son, Inc., presented an educational session on "A New Era in Visual Safety Communications: ANSI Z535.2-2011". Opening the session, Conley explained how the 1980's was the "decade of the failure to warn claim", that is, until ANSI Z535 came along. Peckham went on to give real world examples to show how a cohesive system of signs – utilizing best practices, current standards, and semiotics – can better protect people and reduce liability exposure.
  • "When did we get to the point where any number other than zero is okay?" said Bruce Wilkinson, a keynote speaker on the final day of the conference, referring to workplace injuries. "It's zero. Every task, every action, every time," he continued. Wilkinson's presentation focused on making safety a value, not just a priority, and the importance of accountability in making that happen. Why? Because, as Wilkinson said, any number other than zero is not just a number – it has a name attached to it.

To learn more about the conference, sessions and speakers, take a look at the ASSE blog – a comprehensive roundup of news and photos from Safety 2012.