Good Monday morning,


“There is always more error than design in human affairs” – from Sir Winston Churchill’s “The World in Crisis 1911-1918”

Along Sir Winston’s line of thought… how many of you saw the “60 Minutes” report on the Deepwater Horizon blowout last evening? Indeed, engineering designs for drilling were state of the art, rivaling NASA technology. But… human affairs (priorities, pressures, decisions, denials and hubris) intruded with tragic and disastrous consequences.

WALL STREET JOURNAL Friday edition, page 3A

“Workplace Fatalities Decline to Historic Low”

“…the bulk of last year’s drop in work-related fatalities likely came because the U.S. lost 4.7 million jobs last year.”

“If people were all home watching TV, that’s not a great story,” said Helen Levy, an economic at the University of Michigan who studies health issue.


“Although the workplace fatality rates have dropped, there is still much work to do,” American Society of Safety Engineers President Darryl C. Hill, Ph.D., CSP, said in a press statement.

“We urge businesses, despite the economic downturn, to continue to invest in workplace safety management systems and processes now to reduce the number of these tragic losses. Companies that invest consistently in safety realize positive bottom line results, reduced absenteeism, lower turnover rates, higher productivity, increased employee morale and a positive brand image. As illnesses, injuries and fatalities decline health care and workers compensation costs decline as well,” Hill said.


Studies show the indirect cost of a workplace injury can be up to 10 times that of the direct costs. For every $1 invested in an effective workplace safety program, $4 to $6 may be saved as illnesses, injuries and fatalities decline. Indirect costs include: training and compensating replacement workers; repairing damaged property; accident investigation and implementation of corrective actions; scheduling delays and lost productivity; administrative expenses; low employee morale and increased absenteeism; and, poor customer and community relations.


Homicides/violent acts continue as the second leading cause of on-the-job fatalities. The ASSE Risk Management and Insurance (RM/I) Practice Specialty frecommends:

Officers and directors – establish a workplace violence prevention policy; upper management must promote a clear antiviolence corporate policy; and, establish and maintain security policies.

Human resource managers – examine and improve hiring practices; implement prescreening techniques; utilize background checks; encourage employees to report threats or violent behavior; establish termination policies; and, provide post-termination counseling.

Risk management and safety, health and environmental departments – train all employees in the warning signs of aggressive or violent behavior; train management in threat assessment and de-escalation techniques; conduct a formal workplace violence risk assessment; increase security as needed; develop and communicate a contingency plan to all employees which includes crisis management; review insurance coverage and verify coverage and exclusions; and, identify a defensive strategy.


That’s what Minnesota Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer often asks, as he suggests one way to reduce the state’s budget deficit is to turn the Minnesota OSHA program back over to the feds.

Don’t be surprised if more of the 26 states operating their own OSHA programs ponder the same possibility.


"In the past 12 months I've seen more OSHA audits than I've seen in the last five years,” - Ed Sullivan, an employment lawyer who represents management clients at Oberti/Sullivan in Houston.


OSHA proposes $350,000 in fines against US Postal Service for electrical hazards at Portsmouth, NH, mail processing facility.

OSHA proposes $357,000 in fines against US Postal Service for electrical hazards at Boston mail processing facility.

OSHA fines Dayton, Ohio, US Postal Service processing center $225,000 for willful and serious safety violations.


OSHA proposes nearly $115,000 in fines against Rochester, NY, machine shop for uncorrected and recurring hazards…

OSHA cites Shreveport, La., refinery with $173,000 in penalties for alleged safety and health violations…

OSHA fines New York concrete contractor $210,000 for failing to comply with settlement agreement designed to abate worker exposure to fall hazards…

$50.6 million to resolve OSHA litigation…

OSHA cites AmeriCold Logistics with $189,000 in fines for serious safety violations at Burley, Idaho, facility…

OSHA proposes $16.6 million in fines in connection with fatal Connecticut natural gas explosion…

OSHA issuing $721,000 in fines to Wisconsin grain company…


We’re just getting heated up on the huge debate that will hound development of OSHA chief Dr. David Michaels’ number one standard priority, the so-called I2P2 injury and illness prevention program standard, aka the “find and fix” rule.

Here are comments from “stakeholders” at the I2P2 town hall meeting in East Brunswick, held June 3:

Many stakeholders were concerned that current safety and health programs do not put enough responsibility or accountability on employees themselves.

Another stakeholder felt that personal accountability for safety and health cannot be emphasized enough and that it should be made clear to workers that they share responsibility for their safety and health.

Representatives from various industries emphasized that management cannot be present at all worksites to ensure that workers are following safe practices so to some extent, businesses must rely on workers to comply.

One stakeholder expressed concern that workers will continue to take risks regardless of the type of management system or safety and health program that is put in place.

Another participant argued the processes that workers engage in are management's responsibility and making workers accountable for safety and health could have unintended negative impacts, such as workers getting fired for flunking safety tests, which is not the goal of an Injury and Illness Prevention Program rule.

Another stakeholder noted that, by nature, workers want to go home healthy and it is the responsibility of management to provide workers with training on how t understand and avoid risks so that they can be safe on the frontlines.