NSC Presents Distinguished Service to Safety Awards

Since 1942, individuals honored for exceptional dedication to safety and health.

October 23, 2023

NEW ORLEANS – The National Safety Council honored eight individuals with the Distinguished Service to Safety Award, the highest award given to safety professionals by the Council. Recipients were honored at the Opening Session of the 2023 NSC safety Congress & Expo in New Orleans – the largest annual gathering of safety and health professionals worldwide.

Candidates were nominated by both the general public and NSC members and reviewed by NSC Division Committees. The following individuals were selected for recognition this year:

  • Lester Claravall, Child Labor Officer, Oklahoma Department of Labor. As Oklahoma’s only full-time child labor officer during the past 25+ years, Lester has made it his life’s work to protect the nation’s youngest workforce against workplace abuse, exploitation, endangerment, and dangerous jobs.
  • Joaquin Diaz, EHS Director, SKANSKA USA Building. He served under three governors as chair of the hoisting machine operator’s advisory board, a group responsible for developing crane operator licensing. He developed an HSE program that helped reduce injury rates from over 20 to 0.48.
  • Michael Ezzell, Master Trainer and Director of Safety and Compliance, Greater Texas Safety Training. He is the one National Safety Council Master Instructor approved by NSC for instructing First Aid and their Defensive Driving Courses. He was instrumental in developing a relationship between the NSC and federal, state, and local government agencies. Mike Ezzell was and remains the catalyst behind the choice to change from the use of the word "accident" in defensive driving to "crash" or "collision."
  • Joe Grabinski, Chief Environmental Safety & Health Steward, Teamsters Local 1150 (retired), Sikorsky Aircraft – a Lockheed Martin Company. He has been a Teamster, a safety leader, a mentor, and blue-collar worker at Sikorsky Aircraft for almost forty years. For more than half of those years, Joe Grabinski has served as the Chief Environmental Health and Safety Steward for Teamsters Local 1150.  Joe currently serves on the Board of Delegates for NSC and is a former Chairman of the Labor Division of NSC.
  • Michelle Garner-Janna, Executive director – Corporate Health, Safety & Environment, (retired) Cummins Inc. With her leadership, Cummins has developed a world-class safety program that is benchmarked by companies around the world. The organization was subsequently recognized as one of America’s safest workplaces by EHS Today in 2010 and honored with the Robert W. Campbell Award in 2014. In addition, Michelle Garner-Janna has served on the NSC Board of Directors and as chair of the Campbell Institute
  • Dan Nabors, Transportation Engineering & Operations Bureau Chief, Arlington County. Dan Nabors has dedicated his career to improving multi-modal safety. In his current tenure at Arlington County, Dan initiated the adoption of Vision Zero and moved the needle for safety across all departments at the County.
  • Marcus Simpson, Director of Safety, University of North Dakota. Marcus Simpson has spent his safety career in a range of industries, including medical, construction, maritime, industrial, power generation, and now higher education. He has trained and mentored 80+ safety professionals in his career. Additionally, Marcus serves his community as a volunteer police officer at the University of North Dakota Campus Police Department.
  • Larry Wilson, President/Founder, SafeStart International. Larry Wilson is a safety expert and author who is best known for developing the SafeStart program, a safety training program designed to help individuals and organizations reduce injuries that occur everywhere. SafeStart is based on the premise that most accidents are caused by human error and that by focusing on human factors such as fatigue, complacency, and distraction, organizations can reduce the number of accidents that occur.

“The prestigious Distinguished Service to Safety Awards honor the unique, individual efforts made by those who value safety above all else,” said Lorraine Martin, NSC president and CEO. “Each honoree has helped make our world a safer place and by honoring their achievements, we can set the bar for what’s possible, and inspire others to pursue our shared goal of eliminating preventable deaths and injuries.”The Distinguished Service to Safety Award was first presented in 1942 to recognize individuals and companies who significantly supported U.S. workers during World War II by reducing occupational injuries. For more information about the Distinguished Service to Safety Award, as well as other NSC awards, visit nsc.org/awards.

About the National Safety Council
The National Safety Council is America’s leading nonprofit safety advocate – and has been for 110 years. As a mission-based organization, we work to eliminate the leading causes of preventable death and injury, focusing our efforts on the workplace and roadways. We create a culture of safety to not only keep people safer at work, but also beyond the workplace so they can live their fullest lives.

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