William Steiger Memorial Award

2018 Awardee


The William Steiger Memorial Award honors individuals from the social/political sphere whose efforts have contributed to advancements in occupational safety and health. Bennet I. Omalu, MD, MBA, MPH, CPE, DABP-AP, CP, FP, NP is this year’s Steiger Award recipient for making such contributions.

Dr. Omalu, a Nigerian born physician, is a Volunteer Associate Clinical Professor at UC Davis in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. Between 2002 and 2007, he discovered a disease he named Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) in high impact contact sports athletes when he performed autopsies and examined the brains of American football players and World Wrestling Entertainment wrestlers (2002–2007). His work facilitated elucidation of modern day concepts of traumatic brain injury that repetitive and innocuous impacts to the head, with time, can result in permanent brain damage and dementia. In 2010, Dr. Omalu discovered CTE in war veterans when he performed autopsies and examined the brains of retired Iraqi war veterans who suffered from PTSD and committed suicide. He termed it the “Blast Variant of CTE.” In 2013, Dr. Omalu’s work was featured in a bestselling and award winning book and PBS documentary, “League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis” and also in a book and film, both titled “Concussion.” Will Smith portrayed Dr. Omalu in the film.

Dr. Omalu holds the Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Nigeria, Enugu; MBA degree from the Tepper School of Business, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Master’s degree in Public Health (Epidemiology) from the Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; board-certifications from the American  Board of Pathology in forensic pathology, neuropathology, clinical pathology and anatomic pathology; certification in medical management from the American Association of Physician Leadership; and Certified Physician Executive. Dr. Omalu has received three honorary PhD degrees in science in recognition of his ground-breaking work on the sequelae of traumatic brain injury.

Dr. Omalu has testified before committees of the U.S. Congress and state houses of assembly across the United States on matters relating to traumatic brain injury and health administration. Dr. Omalu has published four books, many book chapters, scientific articles and publications.

Dr. Omalu has received numerous awards throughout his career. The Honorary Member Award from the Academy for Sports Dentistry, San Francisco, CA (2017); Residents Choice Award from Emory University School of Medicine, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine (2017); Joint Members Resolution No. 116 to Commend Dr. Omalu for an Exemplary Record of Medical Achievements from the State of California Legislature (2017); and Certificate of Recognition from the Board of Supervisors of San Joaquin County for contributions and distinguished service (2017) are just a few.

ACGIH® is pleased to honor Dr. Omalu as the recipient of this year’s William Steiger Memorial Award.

Previous Award Recipients

  • 1979 — Congressman David R. Obey
  • 1982 — George Taylor (AFL–CIO)
  • 1983 — Edgar L. McGowan, Commissioner of Labor, South Carolina
  • 1984 — Gershon W. Fishbein, Editor, Occupational Health and Safety Letter
  • 1985 — Congressman Joseph M. Gaydos of Pennsylvania
  • 1986 — William G. Philips
  • 1987 — Sheldon Samuels, Director, Health, Safety and Environment, Industrial Union Department, AFL–CIO
  • 1988 — Senator Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia
  • 1989 — Richard F. Boggs, Vice President of Organization Resources Counselors, Inc.
  • 1990 — Joseph A. Kinney, Executive Director of The National Safe Workplace Institute
  • 1991 — David P. Rall, MD, PhD, Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (1971–1990) and Director of the National Toxicology Program (1978–1990)
  • 1992 — Molly J. Coye, MD, Director of the Department of Health Services of the State of California
  • 1993 — J. Donald Millar, MD, DTPH (Lond.), the Assistant Surgeon General and Director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
  • 1994 — Eula Bingham, PhD, Professor of Environmental Health; past Director of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration
  • 1995 — Margaret Seminario, Director of Occupational Safety and Health for the AFL–CIO
  • 1996 — James Merchant, MD of the University of Iowa, College of Medicine and Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa
  • 1997 — J. Davitt McAteer, Assistant Secretary for the U.S. Labor Department's Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) and Andrea M. Hricko, Deputy Assistant Secretary for MSHA
  • 1998 — Linda Rae Murray, MD, MPH, Winfield Moody Health Center
  • 1999 — Gerald F. Scannell, Director, National Safety Council; previously Director of the Office of Standards in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA
  • 2000 — Phil Landrigan, MD, Mount Sinai Medical Center
  • 2001 — James Melius, MD, DrPH
  • 2002 — Congressman George Miller (D-CA) and Congressman Major R. Owens (D-NY)
  • 2003 — Brian Davies, CIH
  • 2004 — John Howard, MD, MPH, JD, LLM
  • 2005 — Ernest Mastromatteo, CD, MD, DPH, DIH, FABPM (Occ Med), CCBOM, MFOM (London)
  • 2006 — Charles E. Adkins, CIH
  • 2007 — Earl Dotter, Photojournalist
  • 2008 — John L. Henshaw, CIH, MPH
  • 2009 — Rosemary Sokas, MD, MSc, MOH
  • 2010 — Scott Schneider, CIH
  • 2011 — Roger Alesbury, MS, FFOH, CFIOSH
  • 2012 — Richard Fairfax, CIH
  • 2013 — David Michaels, PhD, MPH
  • 2014 — Tom O'Connor, MPH
  • 2015 — Garrett D. Brown, MPH, CIH
  • 2016 — Vickie L. Wells, MS, CIH, CSP
  • 2017 — U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown