WASHINGTON, DC — July 17, 2001 — Workplace injuries continue to decline in the supermarket industry due largely to voluntary efforts from food retail companies, and new federal regulations will only place a needless, unfair burden on businesses across the country, according to testimony today by Tim Hammonds, president and CEO of the Food Marketing Institute (FMI). Hammonds was testifying before the first Forum on Ergonomics hosted by the U.S. Department of Labor.

“The food retail industry recognizes that there are real concerns about ergonomic or repetitive stress injuries, and we commend the Secretary for acting quickly to initiate proceedings to identify realistic, practical approaches to reducing these injuries,” Hammonds said. “Still, the medical and scientific communities have not reached any consensus on just what an ‘ergonomics injury’ is, and without a clear and understandable definition it is impossible to prescribe a cure.”

Hammonds emphasized that the food retail industry has made tremendous strides toward reducing workplace injuries.   

“Our members work cooperatively every day with employees to solve problems, as it is in the best interests of management and employees to do so,” said Hammonds. “That is why our industry has cut injuries and illnesses by one-third over the past decade. Given the flexibility we have now, we will continue to reduce injuries.”

“No cookie-cutter federal regulation with command-and-control mandates is going to reduce injuries any faster than employers and employees working together in a cooperative spirit like we have already been doing,” Hammonds said. “We believe that OSHA would be much more effective by focusing its resources on voluntary consultations between the agency and industry, rather than on enforcement.”

Hosted by the U.S. Department of Labor, the Forum on Ergonomics held here today was the first of several such events that the department will hold in the next few months. The next hearings will be held July 20 in Chicago and July 24 in Palo Alto, CA.