In November 1926, a rising tide of traffic injuries and deaths prompted Governor Theodore Christianson to convene the first Minnesota Conference on Street and Highway Safety. The conference endorsed a resolution "to arrange for a permanent organization to promote the safety of the public . . . not only upon state highways, but industrial and all branches of safety in which the public is interested." On June 1, 1928, that organization-the Minnesota Safety Council-was formed.
Safety on the Road
From our earliest days, we have focused on educating drivers, pedestrians, and other users of our roads. In the thirties, we promoted traffic safety awareness, the statewide adoption of school patrols, and uniform speed limits. Over the decades, Minnesota Safety Council proposals have resulted in universal driver's education for high schoolers, the reduction of the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level from .15 to .10, and seat belt and child passenger restraint legislation, to name a few. When the 55-mile-per-hour speed limit was adopted in 1977, the Minnesota Safety Council coordinated the state's public education campaign. In 1986 we began teaching defensive driving techniques to mature drivers, training which now reaches more than 20,000 people each year. Throughout our history, we have dedicated ourselves to reducing the dangers of the riskiest activity facing all of us — using our roads.
Safety at Work
We have always been on the front lines of workplace safety. Throughout the Great Depression of the 1930s, we coordinated massive worker safety programs for the state's federally funded work relief programs. During World War II, the Minnesota Safety Council worked with the U.S. Department of Labor, developing industrial safety schools to educate war plant managers and employees. For decades, we created farm safety programs covering an array of hazards: equipment, traffic, fire, livestock, and electrical and chemical hazards.
In 1971, the Minnesota Safety Council's executive vice president chaired the task force that led to the formation of Minnesota OSHA. In partnership with the Minnesota Association of Commerce and Industry we traveled the state, offering OSHA information seminars and providing basic compliance assistance. From providing training, to offering certification for safety professionals, to shining a spotlight on outstanding safety achievements through the Governor's Safety Awards program (established in 1934), we have never wavered from our commitment to keep Minnesota's workers safe.
"Industry is suffering a greater loss from off-the-job accidents than from industrial on-the-job accidents," said Governor Orville Freeman at the 26th annual Summer Meeting of the Minnesota Safety Council in Duluth, in 1960. Efforts to reduce injuries in the home and community have been an ongoing focus of the Minnesota Safety Council. Our Home Safety Section developed from the Duluth home safety committee, formed in 1934 as the beginning of a "state-wide movement to reduce home accidents."
Far-reaching activities such as involvement with 4-H groups beginning in the 1930s, home inspection programs and outreach on child safety, fire safety and other topics in the 1940s, firearm safety training for hunters in the 1950s, and participation as a founding partner in the first state poison information center in 1957, formed a continuous link to more recent efforts in community safety. In 1988, we launched one of the first state SAFE KIDS Coalitions in the nation, which has been named "Outstanding Ongoing Program of the National SAFE KIDS Campaign" and one of President George H.W. Bush's "thousand points of light." Today, we offer programs and resources that help protect families, and especially those at greatest risk of injuries — children and older adults.
Minnesota Safety Council Board of Directors
Minnesota Safety Council Annual Report 2016
80th Anniversary Governor's Proclamation