Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Communication Blamed for Safety Woes

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Communication Blamed for Safety Woes

Article excerpt

By Russell Carollo Cox News Service The man charged with protecting America's workers thinks company executives know better than to skimp on safety and risk the lives of their employees. "I cringe to think that there is any employer out there that is willing to risk the life of (an) employee," Gerard F. Scannell said in an interview. "I'll tell you why: It's bad business. It cost them too much. "Why would they do that? I hear there are some bad employers out there. Well, I sure haven't met many of them." Scannell, the former corporate safety director for Johnson & Johnson, became head of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration in October 1989. He blames bad communication between corporate heads and lower-level managers for health and safety problems. "Most companies have some kind of a message that comes out on health and safety. . . . I think sometimes their message does not hit the foremen or the supervisors or the managers, and it's not explained or interpreted the way they want it to be. "I think that's important. I think that's an issue in this country that I am working to try to resolve." Scannell attributed increases in the work place injury rate to new types of illnesses such as carpal tunnel syndrome and to better reporting. "It's not that there's more injuries and illness, as a general statement." he said. "There may be in some specific companies." Scannell sees OSHA as an agency that needs to be tough, but fair _ a watchdog of worker safety, and a resource to employers who want to make their workplaces safer. "I'm interested in a balanced program, and a balanced program, to me, means. . .consistent enforcement but above all, fair enforcement of the regulations and the standards in OSHA," he said. Scannell, 56, worked for OSHA eight years before going to Johnson & Johnson. Before that, he was a safety expert for private companies and for the U.S. Navy. He is the eighth assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. Two predecessors who stayed the longest and made significant philosophical impressions on the agency were Eula Bingham and Thorne G. …
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