Who’s been OSHA chief the longest? August marks Joe Dear’s 33rd month at the helm, putting him in fourth place on the all-time tenure list. Next month he’ll equal John Pendergrass’ term of duty, and if he stays through the end of the year he’ll tie Thorne Auchter for second longest-serving agency chief (37 months). Dear has a ways to go to set the record, though. Eula Bingham headed OSHA for 45 months during Jimmy Carter’s presidency. OSHA’s nine administrators (not counting interim heads) have served an average of two years and three months.

OSHA slaps a Maine 200 program participant with $3.6 million in penalties. After receiving reports that the Turner, Maine, Decoster Egg Farms facility was reneging on its commitment to Maine 200 -an OSHA/employer cooperative program aimed at bringing companies with the state’s worst health and safety records into compliance- OSHA investigated the job site in January, 1996. The agency alleges it identified numerous safety violations at the 320 worker facility, including unguarded machinery; no personal protective equipment; locked exits; overexposure to ammonia and respirable dust; and nonpotable water. Labor Secretary Reich describes the working conditions at the site as "atrocious...like an agricultural sweatshop." Annual sales estimates for the Turner facility exceed $40 million, according to Dunn and Bradstreet figures.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is the leading major disabling condition in terms of days away from work, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Workers recovering from carpal tunnel averaged 30 days away from work, while workers typically took 24 days off after suffering an amputation and 20 days to recover from a fracture in 1994, BLS reports. Other annual lost-time injury and illness statistics for 1994 released by the BLS in May include: ·
  • Sprains and strains were the leading type of injury in every major industry division; ·
  • The body part most often affected by a disabling work incident was the trunk, including the back; ·
  • More than 20,000 incidents of nonfatal assaults by people led to lost work days in 1994, 58 percent of which were suffered by women, and 38 percent of which took place in the health care industry.

Labor Secretary Robert Reich appoints two new members to the National Advisory Committee for Occupational Safety and Health. Margaret Carroll, safety engineering manager for Sandia National Laboratories and former president of the American Society of Safety Engineers takes the safety representative’s seat on the panel. Rebecca Moreland, president, Chesapeake Occupational Health Services, Inc., becomes the committee’s management representative. Three current members have been reappointed, and the terms of six others have been extended by one year to eliminate the disruption of committee activities caused by staggered terms. HHS Secretary Donna Shalala is expected to nominate another public representative soon.

If you haven’t had your say on OSHA’s "Guidelines for Workplace Violence Prevention Programs for Night Retail Establishments," you now have until September 30. At stakeholders’ requests, the agency extended the public comment period last week. The guidelines recommend preventive measures for high homicide risk workplaces- like night retail shops. Risk factors, according to OSHA, include: ·
  • exchange of money with the public ·
  • working alone or in small numbers ·
  • working late night or early morning hours ·
  • working in high-crime areas ·
  • guarding valuable property or possessions ·
  • working in community settings

The guidelines are available on the agency’s Internet site at http://www.osha.gov in the "What’s New" section.

Women working for male-dominated or rigidly patriarchal organizations experience measurable physical and mental health effects, according to a study published in the July issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Physical and psychological symptoms reported by 47 Swedish female employees of the Volvo Group over a ten-year period were linked to autocratic, insensitive leadership. Women’s health improved when job satisfaction was increased through opportunities for growth, influence and job recognition, according to the study conducted by a Goteborg University psychologist.

"Managers are being drawn out of technical specialties and learning business-driven and customer-focused ways of operating," reports the summary from a colloquium sponsored by Arthur D. Little, Inc. The international EHS consulting firm last month gathered industry environment, health, and safety leaders including Monsanto, Rhone Poulenc, Dow Chemical, Ciba Geigy, Novacor Chemicals, Sun Microsystems, Mobil Oil and others to discuss how corporate reengineering has impacted EHS departments. Participants looked at EHS departments’ transitions from compliance-driven to business-based management. To make reengineering work for the EHS department, the companies offer these tips: ·

  • Establish accountability for performance; ·
  • Improve staff understanding of business strategy and customers’ requirements; ·
  • Integrate work processes with broader business processes; ·
  • Take on a customer focus and service orientation; ·
  • Develop specific EHS goals and reinforce line management accountability; ·
  • Align implementation strategy and plans with the corporate culture and its unwritten rules.

Contact A.D. Little at (617) 498-5904.

In Ontario, where government attempts at workers’ compensation system reforms have been making news, a reform report was introduced last month that officials say will emphasize accident prevention and workplace health and safety as well as early return-to-work strategies. The report, introduced by Cam Jackson, Ontario’s minister for Worker’s Compensation Board reform, also promises to restore financial viability to the Workers’ Compensation Board, revoked earlier this year by Ontario’s Minister of Labour. The report will form the basis for workers’ compensation legislation to be introduced this fall.