Workplace Electrocution Victim-Turned-Olympian Inspires Participants at Georgetown Univ. Workplace Safety Summit

April 11, 2003

2000 Olympics Flagbearer Now National Media Spokesperson for Construction Safety Council, Electrical Safety Foundation Int'l

Washington, DC - April 11, 2003 - A survivor of a nearly fatal workplace accident who rehabilitated himself into a two-time Olympian inspired participants at the 3rd Annual Workplace Safety Summit at Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business Center for Business and Public Policy. The Summit is the only event of its kind that brings together high-level academics, business executives, government leaders, labor union activists, nonprofit representatives, and opinion leaders to work on the nation's workplace safety problems, their causes, and possible solutions. Georgetown is the only university in the U.S. that incorporates workplace safety into its business school curriculum.

Cliff Meidl miraculously recovered from being electrocuted with voltage many times higher than an electric chair...30,000 - volts...when he drilled into unmarked underground cables that his supervisor failed to warm him about at a manufacturing site. The Manhattan Beach, CA native now is a national media spokesperson for the Construction Safety Council and the Electrical Safety Foundation International.

"No one should suffer like I did," said Meidl, who cannot run anymore and still walks with a limp, despite undergoing 15 surgical procedures in 15 months. "Nearly six thousand Americans die and six million are injured or suffer illnesses annually in workplace safety incidents. That's why I have dedicated myself to educating both employers and employees about the dangers of failing to address workplace safety problems."

The dramatic workplace safety turnaround of the General Motors Saturn Assembly Plant in Wilmington, Delaware, which had one of the worst recordable injury rates among General Motors assembly plants, also turned heads at the Summit.

"U.S. businesses and taxpayers spend over $170 billion annually in lost productivity and higher worker compensation, health care and insurance costs," said Phillip J. Franklin, M.D., M.P.H., the plant's Medical Director. "By working cooperatively with our local UAW employees, we lowered our recordable injury rate by more than 80 percent in less than a year and saved an estimated $400,000 to $500,000 per year in medical and production costs."

"We are now developing new tools to give us a better understanding of the causes and associations of injury and illness and feel that these issues must impact quality," added Franklin. "We hope to use this data to help set up the new assembly lines for the next products and that we can build a better car with fewer injuries to the workers. It is a win-win situation."

"The Workplace Safety Summit is the best way for groups to come together in a research-based, impartial environment to develop practical solutions to the nation's workplace safety problem," said Dr. John Mayo, Dean of the McDonough School of Business and executive director of the Center. "Workplace accidents and deaths are devastating to workers and their families, and take a great toll on the nation's economy. The Georgetown University Center for Business and Public Policy is very pleased to be hosting this effort to find an effective and sustainable plan for reducing on-the-job accidents, injuries and deaths."

Other speakers at the summit included: keynote speaker Alan McMillan, President and CEO, National Safety Council; John J. DeGioia, President, Georgetown University; Ellen Kullman, Group Vice President and General Manager, DuPont; Thère du Pont, CFO and Executive Vice President, Wawa; N. Lamar Reinsch, Jr., Director, Center for Business and Public Policy; John L. Henshaw, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health; and David Barstow, New York Times Investigative Reporter.

Topics at the summit included: Government/Organizational Partnerships; Media Coverage of Safety Issues; Safety Data and Research; Safety Through Organizational Mentoring; Safety Training as an Organizational Core Value; and an update on progress since the 2nd Workplace Safety Summit of 2002.

The 2003 Workplace Safety Summit is sponsored by the American Red Cross, American Trucking Associations, Behavioral Science Technology Inc., Delta Air Lines, DuPont and Laborers' Health & Safety Fund of North America.