Obama directs agencies to improve workplace safety for feds

President Obama on Monday announced an initiative to strengthen workplace safety efforts for federal employees on the job.

In a July 19 memo to executive agencies, the president promised "more aggressive performance targets," instructing agencies to improve their workplace safety efforts in seven specific areas:

  • Reduce total injury and illness case rates
  • Reduce lost time injury and illness case rates
  • Analyze lost time injury and illness data
  • Increase the timely filing of workers' compensation claims
  • Reduce lost production day rates
  • Expedite employees' return to work in cases of serious injury or illness
The Protecting Our Workers and Ensuring Reemployment (POWER) initiative will cover fiscal years 2011 through 2014. The memo noted agencies must bear the cost of participating in the effort. It also encouraged agencies to collect data on the causes and consequences of workplace illness and injury as well as prioritize "effective" safety and health management programs.

In fiscal 2009, federal employees (excluding Postal Service workers) filed more than 79,000 new claims and received more than $1.6 billion in workers' comp payments.

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