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TOP WORKPLACE ILLNESS PREVENTABLE SAYS FOOD AND COMMERCIAL WORKERS UNION

 WASHINGTON, Feb. 17 /PRNewswire/ -- Swift action on a federal hazard standard could control and significantly reduce cumulative trauma disorders (CTDs), the nation's leading cause of workplace illness, according to the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW).
 In comments submitted to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the 1.3 million member union noted that while "remedial measures to prevent these crippling disorders are known and well established" the lack of a national OSHA standard has led to a workplace epidemic with CTDs increasing tenfold in ten years -- from 23,000 cases in 1981 to 224,000 in 1991.
 CTDs are painful, often crippling, illnesses of the hand, arm, shoulder and back caused by stressful, repetitive motions that workers perform thousands of times a day as part of their required duties.
 According to UFCW President, William H. Wynn: "We know from our experience that comprehensive ergonomic programs that involve workers and the union can bring dramatic reductions in CTDs. But without the force of a national OSHA standard too many employers simply ignore the suffering of their employees."
 In its comments to OSHA, the union pointed to its joint labor- management ergonomic program at an IBP meatpacking facility that cut CTDs in half and reduced CTD-related surgeries by 40 percent in one year. The union also described its efforts at Red Wing Shoe where worker and union involvement cut CTDs by 30 percent.
 The meatpacking industry has the highest incidence of CTDs with the footwear industry not far behind.
 "The instances of success in industries with some of the highest rates of CTDs clearly demonstrate the feasibility of a national OSHA standard in preventing these illnesses. The explosion in the number of reported cases makes the need for a standard imperative," said Debbie Berkowitz, UFCW safety and health director.
 The union began pressing for an OSHA standard in 1991 when it petitioned the safety and health agency for an Emergency Temporary Standard on Ergonomic Hazards.
 According to Berkowitz, OSHA chose to pursue a piecemeal enforcement approach without a standard and as a result most workplaces and workers are left unprotected.
 -0- 2/17/93
 /CONTACT: Greg Denier of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, 202-466-1591/


CO: United Food Commercial Workers Union ST: District of Columbia IN: HEA SU:

DS -- DC010 -- 7186 02/17/93 09:42 EST
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Date:Feb 17, 1993
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