“Over the past decade, the food retail industry has taken the lead in reducing repetitive-motion injuries,” said FMI President and CEO Tim Hammonds. “We are pleased to answer OSHA Administrator John Henshaw’s call to join in the development of guidelines and information, which our member companies may use voluntarily to reduce injuries even further.
“I would like to commend Administrator Henshaw and Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao for the new spirit of cooperation they have brought to the leadership of OSHA in the past 18 months. The proposed voluntary guidelines will give our member companies helpful suggestions and the flexibility to develop injury-reduction strategies that best suit their individual situation. Working together, we will continue to reduce ergonomic injuries in the grocery industry.”
In April, Secretary Chao announced a comprehensive ergonomics initiative being undertaken by the agency. The plan includes the development of industry- and task-specific guidelines, which may be used by businesses and their associates to reduce ergonomic and repetitive-motion injuries.
FMI has already met with Secretary Chao and OSHA officials to review the voluntary programs that the food retail industry has introduced in recent years, and in the months ahead the Institute will be meeting with OSHA regularly to provide expertise and input on how best to continue reducing injuries.
FMI established an Ergonomics Task Force with its companies in 1990. That group developed extensive recommendations for reducing repetitive-motion injuries. In the ensuing years FMI has produced numerous reports, videos, and other materials, which have been used by food retailers and wholesalers throughout the country to educate employees on the best practices for reducing injuries. As a result of these efforts, injuries and illnesses in grocery stores have been reduced 33 percent from 1989-2000, according to statistics compiled by the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). (See attached chart showing a reduction in injuries).
FMI also sponsors a risk management committee composed of leading safety personnel in the industry. The committee meets regularly to exchange ideas and further develop injury-reduction strategies. In addition, FMI hosts an annual risk management conference that brings together safety professionals from throughout the industry.