At Work At Home On the Road

Dr. Gary Smith Wins Green Cross Safety Advocate Award

  • ​​Dr. Gary Smith is professor of pediatrics, emergency medicine and epidemiology, at Ohio State University, and founder and director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital.

    The safety objective: Unintentional injuries account for about 9,000 deaths and 9 million injuries among U.S. children annually. Dr. Smith, a researcher and tireless advocate for pediatric injury prevention, focuses much of his work on consumer product safety.

    The result: During his more than 30-year career, he has worked with government agencies, policy makers, child advocacy organizations and industry to prevent child injuries associated with such products as shopping carts, ride-on mowers, food and toys, high-powered magnets, all-terrain vehicles, fireworks, baby walkers, trampolines, bicycles, furniture and televisions, smoke alarms, laundry detergent packets and liquid nicotine for electronic cigarettes. He created Prevent Child Injury and the Midwest Injury Prevention Alliance. He promotes coalitions through mentorship programs focused on the needs in low- and middle-income countries.

    Advice for others: Child injury is a public health problem. Partnerships and coalitions are critical; all parties must speak with one amplified voice to combat child injury. Solutions should be evidence-based, and we must train and educate others. Despite our successes, injury remains the leading cause of death among children in our country. Worldwide, 2,500 children die each day and 95% of child fatalities due to injury occur in low- and middle-income countries. We must be the voice for the voiceless. We must champion the unique safety needs of children.

    FINALIST: Janette Fennell, works to make vehicles safer for children.

    The safety objective: Over the past five years, at least 1,500 deaths and 75,000 injuries were caused by vehicle back-overs. A rear visibility standard was needed.

    The result: We found passionate partners, including Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Public Citizen, Consumer Federation of America, American Academy of Pediatrics and former NHTSA administrator Joan Claybrook. Consumers Union measured blind zones and published the information on its website. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gathered hospital data. Parents whose children were victims of back-overs told their stories to Congress and the media. From 2003-2007 we introduced bills that passed in committee but were held up in Congress. Finally, the Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act was signed, but the regulation was never issued. Some auto manufacturers and legislators believed commonsense parenting would solve the problem. We didn't give up. We met with the Office of Management and Budget, Department of Transportation and NHTSA, wrote letters, conducted press events and visited Congressional offices. Finally, and some of its partners and parents sued the DOT. The day before court, the rear visibility standard was issued.

    Advice for others: Find partners that share your passion, become the expert on the issue, stay informed about any news pertinent to the issue, work with the media to keep your program on the national agenda, expect the unexpected and never give up.

    FINALIST: Col. Mitchell Waite, 86th Training Division, Ft. McCoy

    The safety objective
    : In 2012, the 86th Training Division conducted exercises for 50 units with 4,300 soldiers over a 15-21 day period. Then-Lt. Col. Waite, a retired fire chief, assembled a team that laid out safety standards for the soldiers. His goal was to get them to Fort McCoy safely, protect them while they conducted the challenging training and get them home safely. In 2015, now Col. Waite and his team also worked with command teams of 149 units to develop Additional Duty Safety Officers (ADSOs) to help more than 11,000 service members conduct safe training. The goal was zero injuries. Col Waite used the Army Accident Classification system to determine success. He and his team talked to commanders, command sergeants major, first sergeants and troops to educate them on safety. He reached out to command teams 12 to 18 months before the exercises to increase awareness of the safety program.

    The Result: In seven exercises over four years, all measures of success were met. Col Waite's program has been shared with the 86th TD's sister divisions and was written into the Division's Safety Standard Operating Procedures. More units now provide personal protective equipment to soldiers, and more soldiers are wearing their PPE. There also has been an increase in units having ADSO's in their formation.

    Advice for others: Losses or injuries in war are regrettable but not unanticipated; losses or injuries in training are unacceptable. Safety is everyone's business. Leadership involvement is key to safety.

    All finalists answered questions about the safety problems they addressed, the results of their objective and advice they would give to others. Their responses have been edited for space.

  • Chairs' Challenge Doubles Your Donation

    ​If you give to the National Safety Council today, your gift will be matched dollar for dollar. Help us eliminate preventable deaths in our lifetime.

    Donate Today

Meet the Winners

Three finalists were named in each category. Winners were announced at the Green Cross dinner May 12.

Safety Excellence

Safety Innovation

Safety Advocate


Please reach out to us with any questions you might have.

Contact Us

National Safety Council Mission

The National Safety Council eliminates preventable deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road through leadership, research, education and advocacy.

Sign Up for Newsletter

© National Safety Council. All rights reserved.