Labor Department Applauds Agencies' Safety Efforts

Five federal agencies achieved "exemplary performance" during the first 3 years of the presidential Safety, Health and Return to Employment (SHARE) initiative, which has been extended through fiscal year 2009.

In a Feb. 15 awards ceremony in the Labor Department's Frances Perkins Building, the Department of the Navy, the Department of the Treasury, the Department of Defense, the Social Security Administration and the Department of Labor were recognized for meeting some or all of the SHARE initiative's goals, which are:

  • Lower total injury and illness case rates.
  • Lower lost-time injury and illness case rates.
  • Improved timely reporting of injuries and illnesses.
  • Reduced rates of lost-production days due to work-related injuries and illnesses.

The Department of the Navy and the Social Security Administration were recognized for best overall performance in accomplishing all four SHARE goals.

The Labor Department was recognized for achieving the highest timely filing rate of injury and illness notices, and Department of Defense agencies achieved the most notable reduction in the rate of lost-production days among civilian employees due to injuries and illnesses.

The Treasury Department was recognized for the greatest reduction in injury and illness case rates.

"It is indeed an inspiration to see government leaders setting positive examples for these kinds of innovative programs to designed to ensure the best employment practices in the workplace," said Victoria Lipnic, assistant secretary of the Employment Standards Administration (ESA).

OSHA administrator Edwin Foulke Jr. said he appreciates the federal agencies' efforts to make their work sites safer and healthier for their workers.

"What you all are doing here – allowing people to go home safe and sound after every night – to borrow the phrase from the commercial: 'That's priceless,'" Foulke said.

Radzely: Agencies Have Come a Long Way

According to Howard Radzely, acting deputy secretary for the Department of Labor, before President George W. Bush established the SHARE initiative on Jan. 9, 2004, for all executive branch agencies, federal agencies were reporting 168,000 injury claims in a federal work force of nearly 2.7 million employees.

Radzely reported that from 2003 to 2006, the government as a whole achieved a 16.7 percent reduction in injury and illness case rates, an 11.4 percent reduction in lost-time injury and illness case rates and a 43 percent improvement in timely reporting. Days away from work resulting from injuries were reduced by 6.8 percent.

"These are some pretty astonishing numbers, but behind these numbers are human beings – employees each of us work with every day," Radzely said. "And I think that is what continues to motivate all of us to continue protecting America's working men and women."

SHARE Extension Producing Promising Results

On Sept. 29, Bush extended the SHARE initiative through 2009. Shelby Hallmark, director of ESA's Office of Workers' Compensation Programs, called the extension an effort to reaffirm the federal government's commitment to safety and health.

Hallmark reported that for the first quarter of FY 2007, federal agencies were on target to meet and even exceed the goals they have put in place for this year.

"Extending SHARE gives us a chance to broaden our break-through improvements by building on the momentum of the first 3 years of the initiative," Hallmark said. "We can make major reductions in injuries, illnesses and days lost from work and everyone wins when we do."

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