Department of Labor Makes Plans to SHARE Workplace Safety

Secretary of Labor Elaine L Chao sent a memo out to executive departments and agencies in the federal government on Jan. 15 notifying them of a new initiative aimed at reducing the "personal and financial cost of accidents" in federal workplaces.

SHARE - Safety, Health and Return-to-Employment - will replace the government's former initiative, "Federal Worker 2000." All Executive Branch departments and agencies have been directed by President George W. Bush to participate in SHARE for three years, beginning in 2004.

The Labor Department, said Chao, will measure and report agencies' progress in four areas against their baseline year of FY 2003. Those areas are:

  • Percent reduction in total case rates for injuries and illnesses
  • Percent reduction in case rates for lost-time injuries and illnesses
  • Percent improvement of the timeliness of filing notices of injury and illness
  • Percent reduction in the rates of lost production days due to injuries and illnesses.

"We believe it is reasonable for the government as a whole to accomplish at least the following: reduce total injury case rates and lost-time cases by 3 percent each per year; increase the timely filing of claims by 5 percent per year; and reduce the rate of lost production days due to injury by 1 percent each year," said Chao.

Federal agencies have until Jan. 30 to notify OSHA Administrator John Henshaw of its annual targets for the three years of the initiative. OSHA and the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs will provide agencies and departments with baseline performance data, assist in goal-setting and work with department and agency heads to evaluate status, adopt strategies to meet their targets and check progress.

"As federal agencies organize and function to ensure our security at home and abroad, we must maintain our focus on improving worker safety and health, reducing the costs of workplace injuries and illnesses and enhancing workforce productivity," said Chao. "As the president stated, many, if not all, workplace injuries and illnesses can be avoided."

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