Local Section Best Practices: Community Outreach

Safety Matters Initiative in the State of Utah 

At the AIHce conference in Seattle last June, I met with Steven Lacey, AIHA Past President, to get some information on his efforts to introduce the NIOSH Safety Matters program to schools.  He gave me some great insights and directed me to the NIOSH and AIHA resources that could assist us in getting this into the schools here in Utah.  The links are included below.  On those sites you can find the curriculum, sample letters to a Senator, sample legislation that was passed in the States of Oklahoma and Texas, along with some other videos. 

While excited at the prospect, I was still a bit nervous that I wasn’t exactly sure how I was going to accomplish this.  I didn’t have any contacts in the State Legislature or any contacts in the State Board of Education, but I knew of people that did.  One of those contacts was the president of the local ASSE chapter so I called her up and asked if she would like to collaborate on this initiative with me. She was excited about the possibilities and said that she would love to help.  Senator Karen Mayne a State Senator of Utah, has helped Danielle with some other safety initiatives in the past and Danielle set up a meeting with all of us.  The Senator was very excited about the prospects of getting this information to the high school students in her district, in particular, but also to the rest of the State as well.  She put us in contact with Sydney Dickson the State Superintendent with the State Board of Education.  I met with her, Danielle was unable to attend that meeting, and she was really excited about this curriculum and said “I’m sold! Let’s do it.”  She helped me understand that in the State of Utah curriculum is not legislated so therefore we wouldn’t need to pass any.  Some of your states may not need legislation passed or even a resolution to make this happen.  So learn how your State introduces new things into the curriculum.  Because this is something unfamiliar the State Superintendent asked I and some of my colleagues would be able to teach this to the teachers that will be using it when they have their teacher continuing education seminars at the end of this current school year.  I said emphatically that yes between AIHA and ASSE we would be willing and able to do that.  The intention is to have this as part of the curriculum for high school students starting school year 2018-2019. 

I’m not a dynamic leader or one that is out to change the world.  I’m not someone in the “inner circle” of really anything.  I’m just someone that decided I was going to try to make a difference.  I looked at the resources available to me and made the best of it.  Anyone can do this!  For some it may just as simple as it was for me, for others it may require more of an investment of time.  The hardest part so far was just deciding to get started. 

I would encourage the local sections to look for ways to reach out to your local communities.  Many of you probably already are and are doing amazing things.  This is a way to potentially impact the working life of countless young men and young women entering the workforce for the first time. 

If anyone has questions please let me know and I’d be happy to help or direct you to someone that can. 

​Thomas Smith
AIHA Utah Local Section President
2017 - 2018