Hill Air Force Base received praise for its worker safety programs and a mild rebuke after an inspection by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, officials say.

"OSHA traditionally never says anything good about anyone," said Robert A. Curtis, director of the agency's Utah-Wyoming area."It's kind of hard to say, `Congratulations, you're obeying the law,' " he said. "But we feel really good about their job of self-inspection."

Curtis said OSHA asked base officials to conduct their own safety reviews and correct deficiencies so the agency could avoid "a wall-to-wall inspection," then OSHA checked random work sites to ensure compliance.

"They really did do a pretty thorough self-inspection," he said.

The three-man OSHA team found about 50 deficiencies during the June 6-29 inspection at the base, which employs about 14,000 civilian workers and includes about 4,900 members of the military.

Curtis said many of the deficiencies were minor such as following Air Force safety standards rather than OSHA guidelines and some administrative problems.

Curtis said one area of concern was supervisors reprimanding workers who provided information to the OSHA team. Employees were required to report information provided to the investigators during private interviews.

"We hit them pretty hard on that. It's a confidentiality issue," he said. "You don't want an employee ever put at risk because of a work safety condition and he's afraid of telling someone."

Air Force officials said that goes against the standard chain-of-command procedure and that supervisors believed workers also should be telling them about possible deficiencies.

But Curtis said base employees need ways to pass on safety concerns if they believe they cannot go to their supervisors.