WASHINGTON, DC — April 8, 2002 — “Food retailers across America applaud Labor Secretary Elaine Chao’s announcement to support voluntary ergonomics initiatives,” said Tim Hammonds, president and CEO of the Food Marketing Institute (FMI). “And we look forward to working with the agency to further reduce worker injuries.”

“Cooperation, not confrontation in the courts or regulatory arena,” he said, “is the best strategy for improving workplace safety. Through voluntary efforts, food retailers have reduced workplace injuries by one-third since 1989, according to the most current data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“This figure reflects the industry’s commitment to creating workplaces that are as safe as possible for employees. It simply makes good business sense to minimize injuries. A safe workplace improves productivity and employee morale. Regulation is not needed when a powerful incentive to do the right thing already exists.”

“Also important,” he said, “is that food retailers achieved these reductions with little help from the government. In fact, the industry was forced to squander resources to fight an ill-conceived regulation, which Congress repealed last year. All that time and money could have been much better used to promote voluntary programs that work.

“Now, we welcome the opportunity to work together with the Labor Department and OSHA, building on the industry’s successful efforts to improve workplace safety. Using sound science and real-world experience, we can expect even more progress reducing worker injuries.”