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June 11,  2002

OSHA Announces New Ergo Guidelines to Be Developed at American Society Of Safety Engineers' Annual Conference, Discusses Challenges Ahead For Agency

(SafetyAlerts) - At today's American Society of Safety Engineers' (ASSE) annual conference, attended by over 3000 occupational safety and health professionals from around the world, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) John Henshaw announced that voluntary ergonomic guidelines will be developed for the grocery and poultry industry this year.

Additionally, Henshaw noted that the three greatest challenges to him today as OSHA Administrator are: ergonomics; building on the talent of OSHA employees and improving the agency's credibility and respect; and, demonstrating effectiveness by developing outcome measures -- such as reducing injuries and illnesses -- through results.

"We agree with the direction OSHA Administrator Henshaw is taking which is in line with our goals to reduce injuries and fatalities in the workplace," ASSE President Eddie Greer said after Henshaw's news conference held today during the ASSE Professional Development Conference at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, TN.

"We are also pleased that the OSHA Administrator selected ASSE's conference to make this announcement," Greer continued. "These are the people working in the trenches that are responsible for not only implementing these guidelines but providing education internally and externally. We must all work together for a common goal -- increasing workplace safety."

Today Administrator Henshaw announced that OSHA is developing draft guidelines to reduce ergonomic-related injuries for grocery stores and poultry processing plants. These guidelines are expected to be available for public comment this year. This follows the April 18 OSHA announcement that they will be working with the nursing home profession to develop ergonomic guidelines.

ASSE's longstanding position on ergonomics is that a standard should be put in place; however, in today's political climate ASSE supports OSHA's efforts to move ahead on this issue with industry-specific guidelines.

"Reducing workplace ergonomic injuries is too important. We must move forward," Greer said. "For that reason it is important for Henshaw to talk, as he did today, with safety professionals who will be responsible for implementing these guidelines. We look forward to establishing a partnership with OSHA to provide educational opportunities to implement the guidelines as the process continues to move forward."

In response to Henshaw's announcement, the Food Marketing Institute, the National Grocers Association, the National Chicken Council and the National Turkey Federation stated that they intend to work with OSHA in developing these voluntary guidelines.

As for the response to the question as to what the top three challenges facing him as OSHA Administrator were, Henshaw noted that with ergonomics, groups such as ASSE have the ability to make a significant impact on reducing injuries and already are.

"We can't sit and wait for the magic bullet (referring to a standard)," Henshaw said. "I don't think anyone should be using safety and health as the wind in the sails of any debate. Safety professionals and workers face safety and health issues every day.

"Secondly, I want to create an agency that is respected and to remove some of the barriers and/or political footballs," Henshaw continued. "OSHA is made up of great and dedicated employees that want to reduce injuries and illnesses, they are committed. I do not want to see that tarnished."

Henshaw also stated that he wanted to show the effectiveness of the agency by developing objectives, to put in a string of effective outcome measures, such as reducing injuries and illnesses in an effort to better evaluate the agency's work.

The ASSE conference opened this morning with keynote addresses by Henshaw and America's Most Wanted's John Walsh who spoke about the threat of terrorism to the workplace and the unimaginable pain one goes through when a child is abducted.

The ASSE conference ends in Nashville Wednesday, June 12. Based in Des Plaines, IL the non-profit ASSE represents more than 30,000 safety, health and environmental safety professionals. ASSE is celebrating its 90th anniversary. For more information check ASSE's web site at or .

Source: PRNewswire

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