April 24, 2002
Magda Lynn Seymour
John Irvine
(202) 639-6419

Body Parts Of Federal Employees Are Expendable

(WASHINGTON, D.C.)—The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) will host a rally and informational picket on Friday to urge the Department of Labor (DoL) to issue an enforceable ergonomics standard that protects federal employees and other workers in the U.S.

The rally and informational picket—which is being sponsored by AFGE Local 12, AFGE Council 73 (National Council of Field Labor Locals), and the Washington Metropolitan Council of the AFL-CIO—will be held on:

Friday, April 26 at 12:00 p.m.
U.S. Department of Labor
200 Constitution Ave., NW, entrance
Washington, D.C.

“Federal employees are prime candidates for developing ergonomic injuries because their positions require excessive, repetitive computer work or manual lifting,” said AFGE National President Bobby L. Harnage, who will speak at the rally. “Until an enforceable ergonomics standard is enacted, DoL continues to send the message that federal employees—along with their hands, wrists, limbs, necks and backs—are expendable.”

Ergonomic injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis, are the single most common job safety hazard. An estimated 1.8 million workers in the U.S. suffer these kinds of injuries every year.

After a decade of study and debate, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued an ergonomics standard in 2000. In early 2001, Congress and President Bush overturned the standard. OSHA’s recently announced plans to develop voluntary guidelines for industries with high ergonomic rates—starting with nursing homes—offer no real protection and do little to reduce ergonomic injuries.

Senators John Breaux (D-La.) and Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) introduced legislation (S. 2184) on April 17, 2002, that would require DoL to issue a new ergonomics standard. AFGE supports S. 2184.

AFGE is the largest union for government employees, representing 600,000 federal and D.C. workers. Visit AFGE’s Web site,, to learn more about AFGE and its position on ergonomic standards.

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