Report: U.S. Workplaces Becoming Safer

By John S. McClenahen Even as "Occupational Hazards" magazine places reducing worker exposure to silica at the top of its list of challenges facing the U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), the Conference Board says the American workplace has become increasingly safer. From 1999 to 2002, the number of lost-time cases per 100 full-time employees among the leading U.S. firms it surveyed declined by an average of more than 40% and recorded incidents declined by an average of more than 23%, trends "generally consistent" with OSHA's statistics, says the New York-based business research group. Its report was released Jan. 27. Best practices appear to have played a part in the declines, with 84% of the companies putting them to work. According to the survey, the "essential themes" are clear management visibility and leadership; ownership of safety and health by all employees; accountability at all levels of the company; and the sharing of knowledge and information.

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