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OSH Generations: Dan Hannan

Jul 01, 2019

OSH Generations is about family and the safety profession. Many OSH professionals have parents or children who are also in the profession. Our members share their stories of the people who influenced them to enter the safety profession or those who they inspired to become safety professionals. Here's the story of Dan Hannan, a professional member of our Northwest Chapter, and his father, Dan Hannan Sr.


My father, Dan Hannan Sr., was part of the Greatest Generation. He enlisted in the Navy in 1944 at the age of 17 to defend our country during WWII.

Upon returning to the U.S., my father's livelihood began as a cabinetmaker, then as a painter. His painting career lasted nearly 40 years from the mid-1950s until the 1990s when he retired. As a union commercial painter, his employer was a large school district and his job was to paint every elementary, middle and high school in the district. He worked on both interior and exterior parts of schools and would finish gymnasium floors, locker rooms and even painted mascot logos.

As a pre-OSHA employee, his occupational exposures went unchecked. He routinely worked with lead-based paints, two-part epoxy finishes, solvents and asbestos. As a painter back then, it was common to complete minor repairs on sheetrock and patching holes was done by adding handfuls of asbestos flakes to the sheetrock mud, which allowed it to flow better and become solid when dry. Working in enclosed spaces with no ventilation or respiratory protection eventually took its toll.

He was diagnosed with and battled lung cancer until he passed away in 2002. Following his death, I asked his medical treatment team whether occupational exposures could have caused his cancer; they said it would have been a very likely contributing cause.

Seeing my father’s physical condition deteriorate during his career and into retirement, I was moved to enter a profession where I could make a difference. I’ve been at it now for 28 years as an OSH professional. With a desire to give back, several years ago I began offering a $1,000 scholarship in my father’s name through ASSP's Northwest Chapter: The Dan Hannan Sr., Memorial EHS Scholarship is now used to cultivate future OSH professionals who will help look out for our next Greatest Generation.

Dan Hannan Sr. (left) with his son, Dan Hannan (right). 

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