The end of the Second World War brought a surge of population and industry to supply the new residents to the Southern California Area. With the conversion from military production to civilian goods and services came a need for greater safety and the personnel to provide it.

KAPLANThe Safety Engineers who were here with the war effort and the newcomers gathered at the Roger Young Auditorium for the first meeting of the newly chartered Los Angeles Chapter of the American Society of Safety Engineers. This was in 1946. The Charter Certificate was delivered in 1948 and is so dated.

Only one of the founding members was still regularly active in the Chapter in 2010. This was Joe Kaplan, Retired President and CEO of the Greater Los Angeles Chapter of the National Safety Council. Joe was recognized for his over 60 years of work in the Safety Profession as he was made a fellow of the Institute for the Advancement of Engineering in Los Angeles. Joe received his ASSE 25 year certificate back in 1982. Joe had been serving ASSELA as the Public Relations Chair. Joe was awarded the J. Wesley Gebb Memorial Award in 2005. The Chapter celebrated his 95th birthday with him at the June, 2009 meeting. We had booked Joe to be a keynote speaker for a meeting once he turned 100, but he didn’t make it.

The Los Angeles Chapter has spun off a number of Chapters as the population of Safety Professionals has grown in Southern California. The first of these was the San Diego Chapter (San Diego and Imperisl Counties). This was followed by the Tri-County Chapter (Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino Counties) in the 1970’s. The Valley Coastal Chapter (Ventura and Westernmost Los Angeles Counties) in the early 1980’s. The Tri-County Chapter split off most of Riverside and San Bernardino Counties to form the Arrowhead Chapter, which subsequently reverted to the Los Angeles Chapter. The Long Beach Chapter was formed from portion of Los Angeles and Orange County.

Recent years have seen many changes in the Los Angeles Area that have affected Chapter activities. The auto industry and many of its suppliers have shut down. The aerospace industry has consolidated and moved out of town. Insurance has dispersed from the Wilshire district with Loss Prevention functions being further dispersed and decentralized out of Los Angeles, and banking has been bought out and moved out of Downtown. Heavy industry like metal producers have vanished from the near east side, as have many food companies, as lower shipping costs and environmental regulations have forced them to close or relocate. High taxes and punitive regulations are driving more and more businesses out of the State and particularly the metropolitan territory of the Los Angeles Chapter.

One ray of sunshine has been the development and success of the Inland Empire Section. This is thriving in the territory of the Arrowhead Chapter which had been disbanded. Don Kramer and Bob D’Amato were instrumental in getting the section going.


Tradition among many organizations has it that a gavel is passed to an incoming President. Sometimes gavels are perpetual and become a part of an organization’s regalia, sometimes they become gifts to the Presidents as they complete their terms. The Los Angeles Chapter ASSE has a perpetual gavel which is passed from President to President.

T. D. “Lynn” Masters, Los Angeles Chapter President for the 1955-1956 fiscal year was a woodworker. At the close of his term, he presented a unique gift, that he had designed and built, to the Chapter. This took the form of a perpetual gavel for the Chapter President.

The gavel is a marvelous creation that exemplifies ASSELA concerns with safety. It also reminds us to relax a bit and never take ourselves too seriously. Lynn’s gift is identified by a brass plate which reads as follows:


The gavel is cleverly designed so that Chapter Presidents need not fear having their fingers under the point of operation as they gavel a meeting to order