A LITTLE over 2 years ago, I took a look at the safety records of our Federal agencies. I was shocked.
I saw that between 1958 and 1965, 1,200 Federal workers had lost their lives because of job injuries. Nearly 300,000 others had been disabled.
Adding up the cost to the Nation of these deaths and injuries, I found that in those 7 years we had lost over 70,000 man-years of labor. That is equivalent to 1 full year off the job for 70,000 men.
There was no excuse for these shocking statistics. Many of the deaths and injuries could easily have been prevented.
So, in February of 1965, we launched a program called Mission SAFETY-70. Its goal was to reduce the number of accidental injuries to Federal workers--30 percent by 1970.
We have done a great deal since then. Today we have met to recognize outstanding achievements, and to evaluate our program so far.
--For 2 years in a row we have lowered the injury rate of Federal employees.
--Eighteen major agencies employing over 80 percent of our Federal civilian workers have significantly reduced their injury figures. One--the D.C. Commission-has achieved 29 percent reduction-in only 2 years reaching the target we set for 1970.
But let me emphasize that we have not yet reached our goal. There is no room for complacency.
In some areas, the accident rate is rising. Disabling injuries are up slightly for the first quarter of this year. This needless and costly waste must stop.
I am charging every administrator in the Federal Government with personal responsibility to see that the causes of accidents in his operation are found and eliminated.
We want the Federal Government to set standards of safety that will be copied by public and private groups. It is blind, heartless extravagance to contend that we cannot afford such a safety program.
The agencies we are honoring today prove that our goal can be attained:
--Secretary Nitze, the Navy Department for its outstanding program of safety in all areas.
--General McKee, the Federal Aviation Agency for reducing the frequency of injuries more than 14 percent, and the severity of injuries more than 33 percent, compared with your previous 3-year average.
--Mr. Ripley, the Smithsonian Institution for successfully reducing a variety of hazards from laser beams to dangers in the Zoological Park.
There are three honorable mentions: The Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.
--The District of Columbia Commission.
--The Civil Service Commission.