June 11, 2002
OSHA Announces New Ergo Guidelines to
Be Developed at American Society Of Safety Engineers' Annual Conference,
Discusses Challenges Ahead For Agency
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
"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
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
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 http://www.asse.org/
or http://www.osha.gov/ .