The Frances Perkins Award for making a significant contribution to workplace safety has been awarded to Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge.
The International Association of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions (IAIABC) award was presented Sept. 28 during the association's annual convention in Washington, D.C.
"Today, thanks to the governor's efforts, workers and management are working in true partnership to address an issue of mutual concern," said state Labor and Industry Executive Deputy Secretary Michael J. Acker, who accepted the award on Ridge's behalf. "The bottom line? Today, Pennsylvania's workplaces are safer than at any time in state history."
In 1998, workplace fatalities in Pennsylvania declined to 96, the fewest recorded in a year. Also, in 1998, the rate of injuries per 1,000 workers declined to 15.6, the lowest ever.
Reforms to the workers' compensation system in the state have given employers 5 percent premium discounts for establishing joint worker-management safety committees. This has saved employers an additional $62 million in workers' comp premiums.
To further promote worker safety, in 1996, Ridge established Pennsylvania Safe First (PENNSAFE), a three pronged approach to safety that coordinates safety outreach, confers the Governor's Award for Safety Excellence and offers technical assistance to companies.
The France Perkins Award is named after the nation's first female cabinet secretary, who served as head of the U.S. Department of Labor from 1933 to 1945. IAIABC brings together workers' compensation specialists and leaders from government, business, labor, medicine, law, insurance, rehabilitation and safety.