Highway accidents and homicides top the list of fatal work injuries in 1994, accounting for 20 percent and 16 percent of fatalities, respectively, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries. A total of 6,588 workers died of occupational injuries last year, four percent more than in 1993. The number-an average of 18 fatalities per day-largely reflects an increase in highway and commercial airline accidents, the BLS reports.

OSHA reform legislation should require the agency to recognize institutions qualified to train and certify professionals to conduct third-party health and safety audits, the American Industrial Hygiene Association suggested to the House Subcommittee on Workforce Protection in late July. Reform legislation introduced by Rep. Cass Ballenger (R-N.C.), H.R. 1834, that would allow for third-party workplace health and safety audits, should be more definitive about which certifying entities are acceptable, the AIHA testified.

In testimony prepared for the subcommittee, the American Society of Safety Engineers recommends that credentialing consultants should remain the domain of the private sector: "If OSHA were to take on individual certification, the federal government would need to create another bureaucracy just to track the ongoing training that the professionals would be receiving in order to ensure an acceptable level of competency is maintained."

The average physician gets nearly 100 worker requests per year to prescribe longer work absences than medically necessary, according to a survey commissioned by Reed Group, Ltd., a Denver occupational health provider. The report does not discuss how doctors respond to such requests. But Reed Group recommends they reference "The Medical Disability Advisor-Workplace Guidelines for Disability Duration," a publication authored by its chair, Presley Reed, M.D.

Federal OSHA compliance officers are making fewer workplace inspections in FY95 than they did in 1994, according to agency records. OSHA made a total 42,377 inspections in FY94. But by July this year, with only two months to go in FY95, OSHA had made only 24,682 inspections.

OSHA's "Maine 200" program, which targets manufacturers with the worst health and safety records in the state, is a finalist in the 1995 Innovations in American Government Awards contest sponsored by the Ford Foundation and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Fifteen award winners will receive $100,000 grants, and other finalists will receive $20,000 grants.

OSHA proposes a $603,600 penalty against Elmira, N.Y., foundry, Kennedy Valve, manufacturer of cast iron valves and fire hydrants. A January, 1995, oven explosion at the unionized iron foundry killed an employee. Citations include four alleged willful, 40 alleged serious, 24 alleged repeat, and 16 alleged other-than-serious violations, according to OSHA.

A general accounting office study of the effectiveness of environmental audits reports that Union Carbide and Allied Signal are among companies that say environmental audits help cut costs and prevent fines and lawsuits. For a free copy of the report, document number GAO/RCED-95-37, contact the GAO at (202) 512-6000.

A more productive work force and higher quality standards are the most important benefits of a worldwide occupational health and safety program, say 37 percent of Fortune 500 safety pros surveyed by First Market Research in March. Other findings of "Health and Safety in the Workplace-United States," sponsored by Liberty International Risk Services, include:

  • Safety pros consider "corporate culture" and "total quality management" the most influential factors on worldwide occupational health and safety programs;

  • Ergonomic-related injuries are the most often incurred losses in worldwide operations;

  • Two-thirds of companies reported to have either completely decentralized health and safety programs, or programs that are becoming more decentralized.

Protecting Workers in Hot Environments, a free one-page fact sheet, is available from any OSHA area office or the OSHA Publications Office, (202) 219-4667.

"How to prepare for workplace emergencies," a booklet designed for small employers without health and safety staff, is available free from OSHA. Guidelines include training plans, communications, setting up a chain of command, creating emergency response teams, accounting for personnel after an emergency, medical assistance, security, and personal protection. Call (202) 219-4667 to order.