- Feb 18, 1998 letter to Colorado
Governor Romer urging state-wide "public awareness campaign" to
Date: Wed, 18 Feb 1998 06:15:02 -0800
- To: firstname.lastname@example.org
- From: Rick Johnson
- Subject: Telecommuting: to save lives and improve health
- Cc: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org,
email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com,
firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org,
- email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com,
- firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com,
- Dear Governor Romer, 
- Because I know you care deeply for the safety and health of
all people in Colorado, I urge you to strongly promote more
widespread use of telecommuting, as soon as possible.
- You said in your January 8th "State of the State" speech
- "Where once our economy moved at the speed of a horse, a
- a car and then an airplane, today, our economy moves at the
- of an idea."
- And so it should. Commuting by car or any other vehicle kills
and injures human beings.
- While cars (as well as trains, trucks, and planes) need to be
used for certain very important transportation purposes, it is
much safer and healthier to people, families, children, and
communities for our economy to move at the speed of an idea - by
telecommuting. People, like you, who want to protect workers and
the public, need to look very seriously at telecommuting as the
best transport "vehicle" available today, tomorrow, and well into
the 21st century.
- Telecommuting is very easy to implement and will go a long way
toward providing the assurance of worker safety and health that
employers want. Telecommuting will keep people out of harms way
going to work and protect them on their way home, and at the end
of the day, many more men, women, and children will be safe. And
more people will be healthier, too, as more workers are allowed to
- Improving productivity, conserving energy, protecting the
environment, enhancing family values - these are the benefits
people throughout the world already know telecommuting provides.
However, safety and health benefits of telecommuting have been
overlooked until very recently, and those benefits are extremely
- Lieutenant Governor Schoettler's "Telecommunications Report"
 acknowledges the importance of telecommuting,
- "Telecommuting challenges the old way of doing things. As some
- policy makers continue to plod into familiar solutions,
- millions of dollars to build more lanes on the state highways
- cars that poison our air, others are recognizing that the
- technologies allow for unprecedented answers to our
- Lt. Schoettler is right.
- You declared in your speech, Governor, that "Colorado is not
just the best place to work, it's the best place to live." That
declaration will become especially true, once people are protected
from the deaths, injuries, and poor health occurring every day as
a result of unnecessary commutes.
- The Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) 
and City of Boulder  are examples of two organizations
that have taken significant steps to promote alternative
transportation for the sake of saving energy, preventing
pollution, and relieving traffic congestion. I ask, now, that you
establish a major aggressive state-wide public information
campaign informing all Colorado employers and workers about the
newly identified safety and health aspects of telecommuting. Your
action is very important - in fact, it is a matter of life and
- Please read the attachment below for more information, and if
I can be of any assistance, please let me know.
- Rick Johnson, Founder and Director
- Telecommuting Safety & Health Institute (TSHI)
- ----- notes ------------------>
- 1. About email distribution: message is being sent to other
- people (via "Bcc"), because we believe they need to know about
- new safety and health issue, as well.
- 2. From your speech at http://www.state.co.us/gov_dir/1998sos.htm.
- 3. From report at http://www.state.co.us/gov_dir/ltgov/ltgov_telecomm.html.
- 4. Ride Arrangers site is at http://www.drcog.org/ridearrangers/index.html.
- 5. GO Boulder site is at http://bcn.boulder.co.us/boulder/go-boulder/.
- ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
- The Newly-Discovered Benefits of Telecommuting: Improved
Safety & Health
- Rick Johnson
- February 17, 1998
- We recently have begun informing United States Governors and
their citizens about the existence of the Telecommuting Safety
& Health Institute (TSHI) website [click
- TSHI is a non-profit organization with the mission of
educating people about and advocating the use of telecommuting, so
people everywhere can take advantage of two important
telecommuting benefits: improved safety and improved health.
- TSHI seeks to identify new benefits of telecommuting and, as
safety and health benefits are discovered, to keep people
- IMPROVED SAFETY
- There are significant safety benefits to telecommuting. A few
- ==> reduced risk of traffic-related injury and death to
- pedestrians, highway workers, and other traditional
- ==> reduced risk to children by allowing them to remain at
- their primary care-givers rather than housed in daycare
- ==> reduced impact of terrorist bombings or bomb threats,
- employees (and their children) are in a centralized
- The reduced risk of death or injury (by crashes, "road rage",
etc.) to commuters on the highways is a very important safety
benefit of telecommuting. Approximately 40,000 people die in
crashes every year in the US, many hundreds of thousands more are
injured, and billions of dollars worth of property is damaged.
Road rage is becoming more widespread every year as commuters
become more and more intolerent of increased and unnecessary
traffic (see recent Time magazine article at http://pathfinder.com/time/magazine/1998/dom/980112/society.road_rage_.html).
- There are many people commuting home from work suffering from
fatigue, after they had to prepare for work, commute to work, and
perform their work for many hours away from their homes. These
people represent an unnecessary hazard to other people who *must*
use the highways.
- Telecommuting reduces traffic and the resulting hazards that
unnecessary traffic causes. There are many "must-do" commuters who
absolutely have to travel, because they do work that is "hands
on", or they are paramedics, fire fighters, police, emergency
medical technicians, transport workers, tourists, etc.
- If roads become less crowded, because more people telecommute,
the "must-do" commuters will be able to more easily and more
safely reach their destinations. Also, if roads become less
crowded, less roads will need to be built, and existing roads and
bridges will last longer. Existing roads will become safer, too,
as some of the inevitable savings can be spent on improved road
maintenance and infrastructure upgrades. There is also the issue
of "economic equalization" of car safety - telecommuting
especially helps the poorer workers, who may not yet be able to
afford as good, as safe, and as well maintained an automobile, as
- IMPROVED HEALTH
- There are significant health benefits to telecommuting, as
well. Examples include:
- ==> reduced spread of communicable diseases (colds, flu,
- ==> reduction in stress-related illnesses;
- ==> reduced production of pollutants that lead to increased
- ==> continuous access to homes during the day when there
- disasters or major storms, allowing homeowners the opportunity
- prevent property damage that could cause stress-related and
- types of health problems;
- ==> improved access to individual health needs
- facilities, etc.) for persons with existing health
- or disabilities; and
- ==> the potential for increased care of children in their
- by their own parent or parents.
- People who can stay home and work rather than bringing their
desease (a cold, for example) into the office, are preventing
diseases from spreading to other coworkers (and their coworkers'
families). Conversely, by staying home, they are not becoming
infected by communicable diseases from coworkers, who decide to
bring them into the office. The commute, itself, is enough to
cause stress-related illnesses for many people, and sometimes just
the distance and time involved in commuting to and from work can
cause unnecessary physical discomfort for some people.
Telecommuting can eliminate the stress and discomfort of the
- Because they are not producing as much pollution by commuting
every day back and forth to the office, telecommuters are
improving not only the quality of the air *they* breathe, but the
air that *everyone* breathes. Many people do not have the access
they need to their medications during commutes or during the time
they spend on their job sites. Many people also require or desire
special equipment and facilities in order to address a variety of
health conditions or physical limitations. Telecommuting
accommodates the needs of people who would prefer to be closer to
their homes, where they can better access their own familiar
facilities and living environment.
- Telecommuting also allows parents to care for their children
in their own homes, and in many instances could reduce or remove
the need for any child care outside the home. The impact of
telecommuting on child care cannot be overemphasized.
Telecommuting improves the quality of care, not only for
telecommuters, who can have their children home, but also for
other workers who cannot telecommute. Those other workers will
have access to child care facilities that are less crowded and can
provide better services, because they will be better staffed.
- Many people could do some or all of their work from home,
today, especially now that computers are becoming cheaper, and
shared residential data/fax/phone lines are becoming easily
available with higher capacity fiber optic loops. If a person's
job is not one they could do from home (either full or part time),
they are *still* impacted by those people who could be
telecommuting, if only they were allowed to. Many of us are placed
at an unnecessary risk, due to the additional traffic these
potential telecommuters provide.
- Not every employee today could do some or all of their work
from home, of course. It is the choice to choose telecommuting
that TSHI is advocating. We realize a change to the American
corporate culture is needed. Certainly there are managers and
workers who have reservations about telecommuting, saying "I just
like to have a face-to-face talk sometimes." These reservations
are understandable. However, even a reduction in the trips to and
from work would help. If people were allowed to work just part of
the time from their homes, there would be an increase in safety
and health to workers and the public. In the future, cheaper and
better televideo technology will exist that allows for that "face
time" that some people want, without the need for unnecessary and
unsafe travel to and from a work location to get it.
- Most corporations and governments care about economics,
energy, environment, family, safety, and health. Telecommuting
will continue to provide large financial benefits (increased
productivity, reduction of cost for work space, reduced insurance
premiums, reduced accident losses, etc.), while conserving our
precious energy resources. Telecommuting will help to protect our
environment (reduced highway construction, cleaner air, etc.),
while allowing people to be home with family and community. And
because corporate and government managers should care foremost
about the safety and health of their workers, as well as the
general public, they should allow as many of their employees to
telecommute as possible.
- [Note: Similar safety and health benefits will also be
obtained, if rather than using air travel, buses, trains,
motorcycles, bicycles, or other forms of transportation, more
- If people do not know about the safety and health benefits of
telecommuting, they will not act to reap those benefits. And
people need to know soon, because action is required. Action is
required now, because people are losing their lives and being
injured every day, only because managers do not yet know about the
safety and health benefits of telecommuting.
- The desire and the need to telecommute is spreading.
Corporations and government agencies are being urged to look into
the feasibility of telecommuting for their organizations. But some
organizations may need a little "push" in order to change. Why do
they need a little push? Because some organizations are still
doing their business in a manner that is adverse to worker and
- For example, we heard recently that because of cost-cutting
measures, the managers at DOE's Hanford nuclear reservation in
eastern Washington state are becoming more reluctant to issue "two
hour delays" when road conditions are bad due to poor weather
(ice, snow, etc.). This will undoubtedly result in more injuries
and add to the already stressful working conditions that exist in
the Tri-Cities area. And even though the Hanford motto is
"Environmental Excellence," managers there do not encourage
telecommuting. By not encouraging telecommuting employers are
unnecessarily polluting the environment and the lungs of its
workers and neighbors while exposing tens of thousands of people
to unnecessary commuting risks. (See Hanford website at http://www.hanford.gov/.)
- In northern New Mexico, at DOE's Los Alamos National
Laboratory, where the motto is "Science Serving Society," Lab
management still does not have a policy which allows and
encourages their employees to telecommute, even though the
technology to do so has existed for over 10 years (see LANL
website at http://www.lanl.gov/.)
Even though the Federal government has requested that a percentage
of its employees telecommute by the year 2000, the DOE allows
government contractors, like LANL, to ignore the telcommuting
needs of their workers and their communities! All their employees
are still being forced to commute unnecessarily to and from work
from surrounding communities on very hazardous roads, constantly
under construction. Many of those employees could easily be doing
their work from the comfort, safety, and security of their own
homes, rather than endangering their lives (and those of others)
by driving back and forth every day to the laboratory.
- At TSHI we are attempting to do our part to encourage
employers and government leaders to keep safety and health always
as their *top* priority. We are helping by discovering new
benefits for telecommuting, publishing our website, and spreading
the word. We will also begin to identify organizations that are
"telecommuting friendly," and thus are saving money, conserving
energy, preserving the environment, enhancing family values, and
protecting the public and their workers. If we do not see a major
change in management attitude at other organizations, soon, we
will also begin to identify those employers (such as the ones
mentioned above) that are "telecommuting unfriendly." Those
organizations are inflicting a very large measure of misery and
suffering upon their workers and the communities where they do
- We encourage you and other people you share this information
with to visit the TSHI website periodically and carefully consider
our new safety and health perspective. We hope, too, that other
government leaders will help us get our message across, so that
corporate and government management philosophies will begin to
- Telecommuting quite possibly is the most simple, inexpensive,
and effective means available today to save lives and improve the
health of people everywhere.
- For more information on telecommuting safety and health please
visit the TSHI website at:
- ===> [click here]
- -Rick Johnson, Founder and Director
- Telecommuting Safety & Health Institute (TSHI)
- c/o HC73 - 953 Buchanan Rd.
- Burns, OR 97720
- TSHI is a non-profit organization dedicated to
- saving lives, reducing injuries and improving health
- by advocating increased use of telecommuting.
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