OSHA, Johnson and Johnson Partnership Agreement Focuses on Ergonomic Best Practices

Aug. 4, 2003
OSHA and Johnson & Johnson have signed a partnership agreement to help develop and identify best practices that will reduce ergonomics injuries in the workplace. The three-year partnership will provide OSHA with first-hand knowledge of Johnson & Johnson's successful ergonomics programs.

"We know that Johnson & Johnson recognizes the seriousness of musculoskeletal disorders in their workforce," said OSHA Administrator John Henshaw at the signing ceremony. "We're delighted that they want to work with us in a cooperative manner that ultimately will benefit thousands of America's workers. We look forward to the months ahead and the results that will be achieved through our new relationship."

Ather Williams Jr., vice president for Worldwide Safety and Industrial Hygiene at Johnson and Johnson, said it was his company's vision "to be the world leader in health and safety by creating an injury-free workplace. This partnership is an important step on this journey."

The partnership's foundation is built upon four goals: reduce the incidence and severity of musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) at the company's operating facilities; identify and communicate an effective process to develop and implement successful ergonomics programs; identify at minimum three Johnson & Johnson ergonomics best practices and related training in the company's pharmaceutical, medical devices and consumer goods divisions; and share the company's best practices in ergonomics with other facilities throughout the company, other industries and the public.

Under the terms of the partnership, Johnson & Johnson will develop a written process to address ergonomics hazards in the workplace, covering management commitment and employee involvement, worksite analysis, hazard prevention and control, and training. OSHA will also work with the company to develop an ergonomics protocol for assessing compliance requirements, and for communicating best practices through various compliance assistance tools, training (Education Center courses) and other outreach programs (consultation, etc.).

Various incentives for participating worksites can include maximum allowable penalty reductions for ergonomics and other violations that are abated in a timely manner, six month deferral in programmed inspections, and ergonomics technical assistance to assist and advise on specific issues.

A partnership management team from OSHA, Johnson & Johnson's operating companies and labor unions will oversee and coordinate the partnership. That team will develop appropriate criteria to measure the partnership's progress. Some of those measures will include the number of company sites where best practices and ergonomics processes have been implemented, the number of MSD cases involving restricted work activity and days away from work, and the identification and documentation of nine best practices and related training materials.

About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

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