Good Friday morning,


OSHA chief Dr. David Michaels at a conference earlier this week: “How can we tell Jeff Davis' wife Mary, and her five children, that the penalty for killing fish and crabs is many times higher than the penalty for killing her husband and their father?”

Back story: Jeff Davis, working in a Delaware oil refinery, was killed when a tank of sulfuric acid exploded. His body literally dissolved in the acid. The OSHA penalty was $175,000. In the same incident, thousands of dead fish and crabs were discovered, allowing an EPA Clean Water Act violation amounting to $10 million.


“Last month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released a preliminary report on fatal workplace injuries in the United States,” said Dr. Michaels in his speech. “In 2009, fatal workplace injuries totaled 4,340 - down from 5,214 reported in 2008; much of this decline may be attributed to the slower economy and fewer people at work.

“Still, these are 4,340 people whose friends and families are grieving - 4,340 deaths that break down to more than 80 workers a week who did not return home last year, or nearly 12 people every day who were killed on the job all across America. “

GRIM COMPARISON: The death toll in America’s workplaces for one year, 2009, is almost equal to the number of fatalities suffered by U.S. soldiers in the Iraq War since 2003 — 4,420 according It is more than three times the number of U.S. soldiers killed in Afghanistan since 2001 — 1,278.

Yet workplace deaths attract a tiny fraction of the media attention give to war casualties. Imagine in the corner of the front page of The New York Times a daily listing of workers killed on the job, their names, ages, and hometowns.


In a speech this week, American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) President Darryl C. Hill, Ph.D., CSP, stressed that the current downturn is not time for businesses to cut back on occupational safety and health systems. The consequences: increased health care and workers’ comp costs, production delays, and reputation distress, said Hill.

“But worse, the fatality, injury and illness rates could spiral upwards,” Hill noted. “In the U.S. and around the world not all businesses employ occupational safety, health and environmental professionals. Those that do employ safety professionals have seen the positive results.

Hill noted that today safety is a core part of the successful business strategy and without it we could go back to the time from 1906-1911 when 13,228 miners died in the U.S. or when 146 women and men died in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in NY City in 1911.

“Yes, the rates may be down in the U.S. and I thank the thousands of occupational safety, health and environmental professionals who keep the hundreds of millions of workers safe every day,” Hill noted. “However, I am very sad for the families and friends of those 4,340 people who never returned home in 2009 – a void is now there in that family, a void that will be there forever …and it’s not just a number.”


For aging Baby Boomer who won’t go down without a fight, the Harvard Medical School offers these lifestyle tips for hanging in there:

Avoid tobacco. Stay physically active. Stay mentally active. Eat right. Stay connected with people and your community. Keep your blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, and waistline under control. If you choose to drink, stop at one or two a day. Reduce stress and get enough sleep, recreation, and fun

Have a fun weekend.