A true safety pioneer

A graduate of Stanford University and Hastings College of Law, Robert W. Campbell was chief legal counsel at one of the largest steel manufacturers in the United States. In response to the growing safety problems of industrialization, Robert was selected to serve as the first Chairman of Illinois Steel’s Corporate Safety Committee in 1908. Under Robert’s guidance, this forward-thinking committee developed the organization’s first accident prevention programs, which included the broad sharing of information at all company plants.

Five years later, in 1913, Robert’s pioneering spirit was recognized by his peers when he was selected to serve as the first President of the newly-formed National Safety Council. Through Robert’s leadership, the innovative programs he started regionally began to take root on a national level. “Safety work is today recognized as an economic necessity,” said Campbell in 1914, in his address at the Third National Safety Council Congress & Expo. “It is the study of the right way to do things.”

Throughout his life, Robert promoted gathering data, obtaining expert advice, and sharing the lessons learned and results of investigation for the betterment of others. Mr. Campbell understood that the economic value of safety was critical in convincing the leaders of the time to act, but in speaking of EHS, Robert maintained that, “It is, above all, however, a humanitarian work.” It is in this timeless spirit that the National Safety Council presents the Robert W. Campbell Award each year.

Although Robert died in 1947 at the age of 72, his vision continues to shape the world in which we live. We are proud to present the Award that bears his name each fall at the National Safety Council Congress & Expo and our Winners are proud to join an elite group that serves as a testament to the enduring leadership of this great man.

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