The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) announced that a 20-year ASSE member from Uniondale, NY took the top prize in the ASSE’s written essay contest this year.

Joann Robertson, CSP, ARM, CPCU, supervisor of risk management services for Wright Risk Management, identified communication as the biggest challenge SH&E professionals face in the workplace in her essay, “Two Paper Cups With a String.” Robertson is a member of ASSE’s Long Island Chapter and is a frequent contributor to Perspectives, the newsletter of the Public Sector Practice Specialty.

In recognition of its 100th anniversary celebration, the ASSE also held a video essay contest. Kelly O’Malley, Aaron Padoshek and student member Julia Lippert took top honors in that division.

In her award-winning essay, Robertson wrote, “To me, the biggest challenge is obvious. It revolves around the issue that safety professionals do not communicate clearly and allow confusion and crossed wires to occur. We over-rely on technology and need to refocus on improving our communication skills in order to strengthen our relationships to better relate to, and protect, clients, coworkers and colleagues.”

For the video essay portion of the contest, O’Malley and Padoshek, both of InjuryFree in Woodinville, WA, won in the judge’s choice category for their video, titled, “Where Would We Be Without Safety Professionals?” O’Malley has a B.S. in Allied Health from Winona State University. For more than 12 years, she’s focused on increasing worker safety and decreasing workplace risk. An incident in early 2011 resulted in her temporary dependence on the use of a wheelchair and made injury prevention a more personal cause, reinforcing her determination to promote workplace safety. Padoshek has an A.A.S. from ITT Technical Institute and is the designer and creative director at InjuryFree.

O’Malley and Padoshek commented, “The ASSE safety video was a project near and dear to our hearts. We wanted to stress how safety affects everyone and how fortunate workers are to have safety professionals who are dedicated to ensuring they make it home to their families each and every night.”

The fan favorite video, titled, “Try EH&S Instead,” was submitted by Julia Lippert, Treasurer of ASSE’s University of Illinois Chicago Student Section. The video was developed by Lippert and fellow student section members to demonstrate the importance of safety and health in the workplace. Lippert stated, “We had a lot of fun making the video. We came up with the idea of a parody of the 5-hour energy drink commercials for our video because we were all drawn to safety and health, in part, because of the exciting variety of work available to us that would be different from the cubicle setting.”

Read Robertson’s essay