Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
50th Industrial Safety and Health Conference
September 26, 2001
John, thank you, for that kind introduction, and thank you, Gary Moore
, John Workland
, president of the Governor’s Industrial Safety and Health Advisory Board, for your guidance and leadership in improving workplace health and safety in Washington State. And welcome, Charlie Morecraft
Today, we gather 15 days after the most vicious attack on our country in our nation’s history.
We’re still trying to make sense of the senseless and still shocked by images of unspeakable horror.
Today we’re haunted by what’s left behind. There’s an emptiness that challenges our spirit and sense of peace and security.
But in the aftermath of this national tragedy -- a watershed moment in our collective history, the day of infamy for new generations of Americans -- we seek solace with the heroes, the ordinary working men and women who accomplish extraordinary things.
Hundreds perished trying to aid the trapped, the injured and the dying. But hundreds more continue with the recovery efforts. Firefighters and police officers labor in common cause, with construction workers and community volunteers.
Thousands of people throughout this country have been left without mothers, fathers, children. They have lost their loved ones because of an act of terror -- a horrifying crime that has made each one of us more aware of what we have as well as what we’ve lost.
We have our strength and our spirit. As a people and a nation, we have each other.
We’ve lost only as much as we’ll allow. We will grow stronger as a people, each doing our part for our country.
One of the things we cannot lose is our vigilance.
Yes, we must now be more aware of our surroundings and our sense of safety and security.
So today, all of you are looking at safety and security in a new way, from a new perspective. You are committing time to gather in the pursuit of improving workplace safety and health. You are examining with fresh eyes how to make Washington workplaces the safest and healthiest in the nation. That’s a worthy goal and, I believe, an achievable one.
We can meet high safety standards even in those industries that are particularly dangerous -- in construction, in forest products, in maritime, in agriculture and in the chemical petroleum industries.
We can accomplish this because we embrace proven common sense ergonomic practices, utilize the best safety equipment and implement well-prepared plans to protect workers in emergencies.
But we must now add precautions to protect workers from outside forces without compromising individual freedoms.
I know you’re addressing workplace violence and air-travel safety during this conference. That means listening carefully to everyone from frontline workers to airline pilots and passengers.
But as we assess our safety needs, Americans must resolve never to act against our ideals or principles. We will not use these acts of terror as a pretext to attack or discriminate against Arab Americans or those of Islamic faith.
Over the next few years, I want our state to be known as the place in the country where substandard workplace safety is not acceptable, but also, as the place where intolerance and all forms of discrimination, are rejected.
As I said earlier, Americans seek solace with the heroes. I’m delighted that on this 50th anniversary of the First Industrial Safety and Health Conference, we’re recognizing 43 men and women with lifesaving and humanitarian awards -- 43 men and women who answered the call, put their lives on the line, and acted selflessly for the greater good.
How many of us can claim that?
We can only look to our heroes for guidance, as examples we admire.
Examples such as bus driver Cheryl Mooring
, of Spanaway, who saved 22 Bethell Junior High School students by freeing herself from the driver’s seat and making sure every child disembarked before the bus was engulfed in flames.
Examples such as Kirk Copeland
, of North Bend, who assisted at the scene of a dump-truck accident, treating a 12-year-old for shock and saving his life.
And examples such as Kristopher Kime
, of Des Moines, who set aside his own safety to help a woman who was being kicked and beaten by a group of men during the Mardi Gras riots. Kristopher Kime was killed that night, but his transplanted organs are breathing life and renewing the spirits of eight individuals and their families.
Kristopher’s mom is with us today, and to her we express both our condolences and our heartfelt gratitude.
Thank you, Kristopher Kime, and thank you to all of our heroes and humanitarians.
Let’s continue to work to make them proud, to make our families feel secure, and to make this a healthier and safer place to live, work and raise a family.
- Washington State Department of Labor and Industries