Imagine President George W. Bush and the Secretary of Labor stepping up to a bank of microphones later this year to announce the organizations receiving the 2005 National Workplace Safety & Health Award.
Last November, the President and former Commerce Secretary Don Evans announced four organizations as recipients of the 2004 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. In making the announcement, former Commerce Secretary Evans spoke of the Baldrige themes of ethical leadership, sustainability, innovation and continuous improvement. All are transferable to occupational safety and health. Turning the national spotlight on these best practices would help thousands of safety departments that struggle with issues such as leadership and sustainability.
Sharing best practicesâ€œWe are confident that the 2004 Baldrige Award recipients will serve as role models for every U.S. organization striving to improve,â€ said Harry Reedy, chair of the private-sector Baldrige Award panel of judges and vice president and director of quality for State Street Corp., Boston, Mass.
Every U.S. organization striving to improve its safety and health performance needs role models, too. Right now, OSHAâ€™s Voluntary Protection Program work sites come closest to serving as models. But there are almost 1,200 sites, which dilutes the ability to capture national media attention â€” and also attract the broad audiences of industry execs and safety and health professionals.
Nowâ€™s the timeNamed after the 26th Secretary of Commerce, the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award was established by Congress in 1987 to boost the competitiveness of U.S. businesses. The time for a similar National Workplace Safety & Health Award is past due. But itâ€™s needed more than ever:
What do you think?Is this some kind of pipe dream? Get Congress to create the award â€” fat chance, you say.
Have the award administered by an alliance of non-profits, such as the National Safety Council, the American Industrial Hygiene Association, and the American Society of Safety Engineers? These guys would rather go it alone, you say.
Hmmmâ€¦ maybe coordinating a national awards program is a job for the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Ah, but NIOSH answers to the Department of Health and Human Services, you say. How would you fit the President, Labor Secretary, OSHA chief, and HHS Secretary on the same podium? And good luck getting the President to make time for EHS in his schedule.
But we have to start somewhere. Email your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Weâ€™ll discuss your ideas in a future issue, and share them with our network of contacts in Washington and among non-profits. You never knowâ€¦
â€” Dave Johnson, Editor