May 13, 2002

A new report issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) suggests directions for new research that will help scientists and others better understand and assess the impact of changes in work organization on the safety and health of workers.

The report, "The Changing Organization of Work and the Safety and Health of Working People: Knowledge Gaps and Research Directions," was prepared by a working group of researchers from industry, labor, academia, and government under the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA). NORA, which was established by NIOSH with input and review by more than 500 diverse organizations and individuals, identifies 21 areas where national research will do the most to prevent work-related injuries and illnesses in the coming decade.

Sweeping changes have occurred in the way jobs are designed and performed, in management and production methods, and in the human resource policies that accompany those changes, the report notes. The changes include globalization, restructuring, flexible employment, longer hours of work, technological innovation, shifts in workforce demographics, and many other dynamics pertaining to work organization.

There is growing recognition that those changes may have broad implications for worker health and safety, but they have occurred so quickly that they have outpaced scientists' ability to understand those implications, the report finds. Consequently, researchers and others currently have only limited information for assessing the impacts.

The report suggests a comprehensive agenda to stimulate needed research to fill those gaps, including:

  • Efforts to design and implement programs and systems for collecting data to better understand how the organization of work is changing.
  • Increased study of potential safety and health risks associated with the changing organization of work.
  • Increased research on interventions, examining ways to reorganize work to protect worker safety and health.
  • Improvement of resources and training for researchers to help advance studies of work organization and occupational health and safety.

NIOSH has worked extensively with diverse partners in the private and public sectors to conduct research and disseminate information on work organization and related topics. One such information resource, "Stress ... at Work," suggests practical approaches that employers and workers can take to reduce job-related stress. 

Copies of "The Changing Organization of Work and the Safety and Health of Working People: Knowledge Gaps and Research Directions," DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2002-116, are available by calling the NIOSH toll-free information number, 1-800-35-NIOSH (1-800-356-4674). 



  • May 26, 2002 - Employers subject to process safety management standards must update and revalidate the hazard analysis of their process conducted pursuant to 29 CFR 1910.119(e)(1)


Standard Register Company of Kirksville, Mo. will be recognized for continued excellence in worker safety and health. A ceremony marking the company's advancement to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's "Star" Voluntary Protection Program will be held May 10.

Initially approved as a "Merit" participant in 1997, the first step in OSHA's VPP ladder, Standard Register demonstrated the potential and willingness to achieve "Star" status by implementing planned steps to meet program requirements. Employing approximately 260 workers, the company manufactures manifold business forms.

In addition to an exemplary safety and health program, OSHA's review team found that the facility had a lost workday injury and illness incidence rate approximately 57 percent below the industry national average.

"Standard Register also exhibited excellence in effective safety and health management, employee training and involvement, and the application of appropriate resources into these areas," said OSHA Regional Administrator Charles E. Adkins, CIH. "We were impressed with the participation of top level management in the company's safety and health program, and believe it is the key to its effectiveness."

From coast to coast, there are approximately 820 worksites in the VPP.


U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta announced that the economic impact of motor vehicle crashes on America's roadways has reached $230.6 billion a year, or an average of $820 for every person living in the United States. His announcement was based on a comprehensive new research study released by the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The new report, based on calendar year 2000 data, calculates the U.S. economic costs of an average roadway fatality at $977,000 and estimates the economic costs associated with a critically injured crash survivor at $1.1 million.

The NHTSA study highlights the vital importance of seat belt use. In one year, the use of seat belts prevents an estimated 11,900 fatalities and 325,000 serious injuries, saving $50 billion in medical care, lost productivity and other injury related costs. Conversely, the failure of crash victims to wear seat belts leads to an estimated 9,200 unnecessary fatalities and 143,000 needless injuries, costing society $26 billion.

The report underscores the huge economic costs associated with alcohol-involved crashes, which resulted in an estimated 16,792 fatalities in 2000, as well as 513,000 nonfatal injuries, and $50.9 billion in economic costs. Such crashes account for 22 percent of all crash costs.

Costs for crashes involving a driver or non-occupant with a blood alcohol content of .10 percent or greater accounted for 75 percent of the total of all alcohol-involved crash costs. The impact of alcohol involvement increases with injury severity. Crashes linked to alcohol accounted for 46 percent of fatal injury crash costs; 21 percent of nonfatal crash costs; and 10 percent of the costs in crashes involving property damage only.

The study determined that excessive driving speed is associated annually with12,350 fatalities and 690,000 non-fatal injuries. This represents 30 percent of all fatalities and 13 percent of all nonfatal injuries. Crashes in which at least one driver was exceeding the legal speed limit or driving too fast for conditions cost $40.4 billion in 2000, or $144 for every person living in the U.S.

NHTSA's new study, titled "The Economic Impact of Motor Vehicle Crashes 2000," also estimates the yearly economic cost of roadway crashes to include:

  • $61 billion in lost workplace productivity
  • $20.2 billion in lost household productivity
  • $59 billion in property damage
  • $32.6 billion in medical costs
  • $25.6 billion in travel delay costs

About 9 percent of costs from motor vehicle crashes are paid from public revenues. Federal revenues account for 6 percent, while states and localities pay about 3 percent. Private insurers pay about 50 percent. Individual crash victims pay about 26 percent. Third parties, such as charities, health care providers and uninvolved motorists delayed in traffic, pay about 14 percent.

Overall, nearly 75 percent of the costs of roadway crashes are paid by those not directly involved - primarily through insurance premiums, taxes and travel delay. In 2000 these costs, borne by society rather than individual crash victims, totaled $170 billion.

All told, the cost of motor vehicle crashes in the U.S. has reached 2.3 percent of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP)

In the year 2000, which the NHTSA research used as a basis for determining the annual economic impact of motor vehicle crashes, 41,821 persons were killed; 5.3 million were injured, and 27.6 million vehicles were damaged.


HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson announced 12 grants worth $10.5 million to fund research and training to address health concerns in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.

In addition, Secretary Thompson announced the availability of more than $2 million in special grants for mental health and substance abuse services for firefighters, police and other rescue workers who responded to the terrorist attacks. These funds will be awarded to as many as six applicants serving public safety workers in New York and others states affected by the Sept. 11 attacks.

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), which is part of HHS' National Institutes of Health, is funding six training grants and six research grants to address immediate and long-term worker and community health protections arising from the World Trade Center attacks.

A total of $6 million will support education and training efforts, including training new and current hazardous material teams for the New York City Fire Department, environmental remediation workers, site cleanup workers and hazardous material teams on response to weapons of mass destruction. The awards are as follows:

  • International Association of Firefighters, $3,205,597, to support additional hazardous materials technician and chemical protective clothing/decontamination training classes for the Fire Department of the City of New York.
  • International Union of Operating Engineers, $1,451,047, to support the development of training programs to promote quick and appropriate response by skilled construction and support workers for sites affected by weapons of mass destruction and other disasters, including a training module concerning the distribution and fit testing of respiratory protection equipment at the World Trade Center site.
  • The National Puerto Rican Forum, and their consortium members at the Alice Hamilton Occupational Health Center, Office of Applied Innovations and the Maine Labor Group on Health, $480,000, to train hazmat workers to respond to weapons of mass destruction, including the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators & Asbestos Workers, the American Federation of Government Employees and emergency response personnel in Kentucky, Maine and Washington, D.C.
  • University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey, $398,711, to: provide Transit Union Workers in lower Manhattan with 24-hour hazardous materials technician training; train New York District Council of Carpenters Labor Technical College members for World Trade Center site cleanup activities; and support the New Jersey State Police in training about 2,875 hazardous materials police and hospital workers to effectively respond to emergency situations regarding weapons of mass destruction.
  • The Laborers-Associated General Contractors Education and Training Fund, $314,645, to train workers currently employed on the World Trade Center cleanup and subway reconstruction project and to train non-English speaking workers in New York City and New Jersey who are involved in anthrax remediation sites.
  • The Center to Protect Workers Rights, $100,000, to continue the three-hour health and safety training targeting workers at the World Trade Center. The existing three-hour training will be continued for workers engaged in cleanup and construction activities over the next few months and will focus on awareness of existing and any new hazards associated with the site during construction activities.

In addition, a total of $4.5 million will support research organizations' efforts to conduct exposure assessment, epidemiology, and community outreach in the Lower Manhattan area. These awards are as follows:

  • Mount Sinai School of Medicine, $1,309,990, to conduct a health study of 200 ironworkers dismantling the remains of the World Trade Center compared to ironworkers working elsewhere, and to analyze special images of the plumes of pollutants formed by the collision, collapse and burning at the World Trade Center to assess the exposures in the immediate area. The images were made during over-flights of the area using the NASA Airborne Visible Infrared Imaging Spectrometer.
  • New York University with Columbia University, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and the University of Rochester, $1,240,139, to conduct a clinical study of respiratory symptoms in 300 New York City firefighters, plus a survey and follow-up of 6,000
  • residents, with community outreach including public forums.
  • Johns Hopkins University, $601,294, to develop a registry of the estimated 3,000 to 4,000 workers involved in cleanup at the World Trade Center site, for study by questionnaire and function tests, and to conduct outreach to the workers.
  • Columbia University, $432,480, to study pregnancy outcomes and subsequent child development in a sample of exposed women compared to other women, to analyze air and dust samples collected between October and January, and of soils and New York harbor and park lake sediments, and to compile data that will be accessible to the public.
  • University of North Carolina, $302,943, to study a monitoring device for workers, and an assessment of filter samples gathered by the Environmental Protection Agency at ground zero in the weeks following the World Trade Center collapse.
  • University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, $563,154, to assess surrounding communities' real and perceived risks, including possible increases in premature births and birth defects, post-traumatic stress, depression and panic.

In addition, HHS' Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) also will award as many as six grants to support services for public health workers in states that were directly impacted by the Sept. 11 attacks -- New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia -- and in nearby states -- Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island. The grants will total more than $2 million in the first year and could be extended up to three years.

Eligible applicants for the SAMHSA grants include community-based mental health providers, nonprofit employee assistance programs, occupational health organizations, and voluntary organizations, including faith-based organizations, as well as states themselves, local governments, private nonprofit agencies, and Indian tribes and tribal organizations.

The deadline for receipt of applications for these grants is June 19, 2002. Interested parties can request an application kit for the Public Safety Workers Mental Health Program (SM 02-006) by calling 1-800-789-2647 .


OSHA has announced an expanded role for its Mobile area office in carrying out a special southeastern regional emphasis program on fall hazards. Across the region, OSHA compliance officers are authorized to stop at any site where fall hazards might be present. Mobile compliance officers will take the effort a step further, targeting scaffolding and roofing activities to ensure that a "competent person" is on site and has taken the necessary training courses to qualify. Areas targeted for inspections include Mobile, Montgomery, Dothan and Gulf Shores, Ala.

Lana Graves, OSHA's Mobile area director said, "Not only are we going to focus our resources on fall hazards in roofing and scaffolding, but we plan to spend considerable time and effort ensuring that the competent person at these sites has been trained and is prepared to ensure that workers are properly protected from falls."

According to OSHA statistics, last year 33 percent of all fatal workplace accidents in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi were caused by falls, and 70 percent of these occurred at construction sites. During this period, OSHA's southeastern area offices investigated 83 fatalities involving falls, 58 of which were in the construction industry.

As part of the concentration on the on-site competent person, OSHA will provide technical assistance to the Associated General Contractors, which will conduct competent person training in Mobile on June 26, 2002.

OSHA describes as competent person as one who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards on the work site. He or she must have the authority to take prompt action to eliminate hazards. The competent person's duties will vary, depending on the type of work being done.

With respect to scaffolding, the competent person must ensure that scaffolds are inspected before each work shift and are erected and disassembled properly and are equipped with required safeguards. He or she must also assure that employees have been trained to recognize hazards associated with working from a scaffold

Competent persons in roofing must be able to identify hazardous conditions and appropriate applications for a fall protection system. They must also determine that all workers have been trained on fall protection and assembly and disassembly of fall-arrest systems and that a fall protection plan is in effect.