Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Governor’s 51st Annual Safety and Health Conference Remarks
October 30, 2002
Good morning everyone. Welcome to the 51st annual Safety and Health conference.
Thank you for that introduction, Herb.
Gary Moore will be starting a new job soon. He will be the chief labor negotiator for the state of Washington. So I want to take this opportunity to recognize the outstanding job Gary has done as Director of L&I. Gary’s leadership and dedication to workplace safety and health is inspiring. He leaves a legacy of improvements that will help Washington workers for years to come. His development and sensible implementation of the ergonomics rule is an especially important achievement. He has been an outstanding administrator.
Please join me in saying thanks to Gary Moore—Thank you, Gary, for making our state a safer, healthier place to work.
It’s great to see such a large crowd committed to safe work environments. I applaud your dedication. The theme of this conference reflects the different world we’ve lived in since September 11, 2001.
Since then, we’ve been looking at workplace safety and security issues differently. Since then, we’re much more vigilant about a broader universe of potential danger than ever before. Since then, we’re much more aware of our surroundings. And since then, we’re much more committed to keeping Washington workers out of harm’s way.
Your attendance here reaffirms a simple truth: We won’t work afraid, but we will continue to work smarter. This conference is a great opportunity to learn, to compare notes, and to plan next steps.
Our state has been a pioneer in workplace safety ever since the first conference more than 50 years ago. I am confident that we will continue to lead the way for three reasons:
First, my confidence is based on programs like School-to-Work. This program for teachers and students promotes safety and health for young workers. It helps educate our future workforce early. And we’re hopeful that by educating young workers, we can reduce their injury rate. That rate is 2-and-a-half to three times higher than that of adult workers. That’s unacceptable. And we’re doing something about it.
Second my confidence is based on the example of “Tex” Nixon, who will be honored at this conference. Tex has an outstanding driving record of 5 million miles without an accident. As you probably know, I am very interested in improving transportation and transportation safety. Part of the equation is safe driving. Congratulations Tex, and thanks for the inspiration.
Due to our state efforts and service announcements, we lead the nation in seatbelt use 93 percent.
Next Tuesday, we will have another opportunity to improve traffic safety by improving our transportation system.
There are too many unsafe roads and bridges, too many accidents and fatalities. We must fix our most dangerous roads, while costing every average motorist less than $5 per month. We must also reduce congestion which causes accidents. All with unprecedented accountability.
I know I can count on this group to support improved transportation in Washington. My confidence is also based on the way our state takes care of its workers. Washington is a good place to work.
This is a good place to find workers, too—workers who are:
· Highly skilled, and
· Who understand the importance of safety and health in the workplace.
We gather to consider collective industrial safety and health. But it’s important to remember that this is ultimately a matter of personal responsibility. Every worker has a personal responsibility to be aware of the work environment. Every worker has a personal responsibility to understand safety procedures and healthy practices. Every worker has a personal responsibility to know what to do in an emergency. And every worker has a personal responsibility to look out for others and help them when they are in trouble. Each of you here today has accepted this responsibility. And some have taken this personal responsibility to heroic levels.
We will honor 24 such people in a few minutes with Lifesaving Awards. People like J.C. Springer and Martha Rios of Redmond . . .who kept an injured man alive until paramedics arrived, then translated in Spanish for the emergency workers. . . .
People like Carlos Jolla of Cashmere. . .who freed a co-worker pinned between the forks and crossbar of a front-end loader and then administered CPR.
And people like Jordana Wood of Sequim . . .who sustained serious injuries herself as she saved a woman from being struck by a speeding car.
These are truly profiles in courage.
Our lifesaving award recipients have set an example that all of us may not be able to live up to. But we can all aspire to a higher standard of personal responsibility. We can all take personal responsibility to do our best to make workplaces safe and healthy. If all of us take that responsibility, lives will be saved, and injuries and illnesses will be prevented.
Thank you to J.C., Martha, Carlos and Jordana.
Thank you and congratulations to all of our lifesaving award recipients. And thank you to every one of the conference participants for your commitment to safe and healthy workers and work environments.