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Safety First, Says OSHA.

A new proposal from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) could prevent 300,000 work-related injuries every year, and save $9 billion in workers' compensation costs.

The agency is aiming to curb workplace injuries by encouraging businesses to employ ergonomics programs. Ergonomics is the science of coordinating the worker to his environment to maximize productivity while minimizing fatigue and discomfort, which often leads to injury.

The plan, which excludes construction, maritime activities and agriculture, is two-fold. The first part would require manual labor companies to implement an ergonomics education program to teach employees how to prevent injuries. The second part mandates that if an employee reports a work-related injury, that part of the workplace must be reviewed for potential improvements.

"Real people are suffering real injuries that can disable their bodies and destroy their lives. The good news is that real solutions are available," said U.S. Labor Secretary Alexis Herman when she announced the plan in November.

But the new regulations are not good news for everyone. Business groups fear that implementing the proposed regulations may cost more than the $4.2 billion OSHA is predicting. The agency's figure "has no relevance to reality," Kevin Burke, vice president of government relations for Food Distributors International told The Washington Post. His company estimates that it will cost $26 billion to have just 80 of their 242 wholesale grocers and food distributors comply.

OSHA will hold three public hearings and take comments until Feb. 1. For more information visit www.osha.gov.
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Publication:Techniques
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2000
Words:252
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