OSHA Announces Alliances with Two Industry Groups

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has joined forces with the American Biological Safety Association (ABSA) and the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. (SPI) to prevent illness and injury in the workplace.

Collaboration is essential in addressing the evolving biological safety issues facing American employers and workers today, according to OSHA and ABSA. OSHA and ABSA will use their collective expertise to enhance workplace health and safety and to assist employers in developing a preventive focus for biological safety issues in the workplace.

"The changing nature of workplace hazards today reflects the changing nature of the world of today," said John Henshaw, OSHA adminsitrator. "After September 11, 2001 and the anthrax terrorist attacks, we recognize the evolving nature of threats to health and safety in the workplace from criminal acts, terrorism, and other external hazards previously unthinkable, and take steps to prepare workplaces to deal with those hazards."

ABSA will share technical information and best practices regarding biological safety, and will provide OSHA with technical advice, information and recommendations on biological safety issues. Both will work together to identify emerging occupational biological safety issues and work out methods to address them. ABSA will also help OSHA to identify and develop technical links on biological safety for OSHA's Web site.

Other information and data-sharing initiatives are also included in the alliance, including joint efforts to encourage employers to incorporate biological safety strategies into their overall safety and health programs.

The alliance between OSHA and SPI should help SPI members identify and eliminate hazards likely to result in amputations, including machine guarding and lockout/tagout; in reducing and preventing exposure to ergonomic hazards; and to provide training to employers in identifying and controlling these and other hazards.

"Alliances such as this one are the cornerstone in our efforts to enlist the business community's help in making sure workplaces are safe and healthy," said Henshaw. "We must all work together for the common good - that of reducing injuries and illnesses in the workplace across the board."

OSHA and SPI plan to use SPI's newsletters, Web site, workshops and annual meetings to disseminate information and guidance on workplace safety and health information. The alliance will also promote and encourage SPI members' participation in OSHA's cooperative programs such as compliance assistance, the Voluntary Protection program, consultation and mentoring among SPI members. OSHA and SPI will also work together to develop training based on protocols developed in a Strategic Partnership between SPI and OSHA for specific hazards or machinery and deliver it through SPI's learning network and at other appropriate conferences and meetings.

A joint team of representatives from SPI and OSHA will meet regularly to develop an action plan, identify goals and objectives, and track and share information on activities and results of the Alliance.

These alliances will remain in effect for one year, with annual automatic renewals.

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