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Day-to-day risks just as critical as the exotic


A NEW ANALYSIS of workplace fatalities by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention starkly illustrates the importance of managing the risks presented by routine--even mundane--activities.

According to the CDC's April 6 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, transportation incidents accounted for about 43% of all fatal workplace-related injuries in 2005, the last year for which data has been compiled. The report notes that highway mishaps were the leading cause of fatal occupational injury throughout the period of 1992-2005. "To reduce the number of workplace deaths, transportation measures targeting workers (e.g. truck safety and highway work-zone safety) should be enhanced by state and local transportation agencies and coordinated with highway-safety measures for the general public," the report said.

Even though employers are now planning to deal with new and potentially disastrous exposures such as pandemic influenza, the CDC report is a useful reminder that day-to-day risks can pose no less a hazard than their more exotic counterparts. There may nothing particularly exciting about reminding employees to exercise care when driving or working around highways. But the CDC report should underscore that confronting easily foreseen risks is just as important as preparing for those that fall into the less foreseeable category.