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(WASHINGTON, D.C.)—“Voluntary guidelines nine months from now won’t help the thousands and thousands of federal employees who are currently suffering from repetitive stress injuries,” stated Bobby L. Harnage, National President of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), following the Bush Administration’s release of a plan to deal with ergonomic hazards.
“The working men and women of this country need an enforceable ergonomic standard—not voluntary industry guidelines,” Harnage added. “It’s obvious to all that Bush’s actions indulge big business at the expense of America’s work force.”
Many of the employees that AFGE represent are at risk of developing ergonomic injuries. Some members work in manual lifting jobs in federal work places such as VA Medical Centers, the U.S. Mint, the Government Printing Office and Defense. The vast majority of AFGE members perform computer-related work in agencies such as the Social Security Administration, the Census Bureau, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and others.
“Musculosketal disorders have been reviewed, studied and reviewed again,” Harnage said. “We don’t need more wasteful and time-consuming studies and reports; we need immediate action to protect the work force from these crippling and disabling injuries.”
“While the Department of Labor ponders the issuance of minimal guidelines, our country’s work force is left with no meaningful protections from cost-cutting employers who place more emphasis on bottom-line profits than its employees,” Harnage emphasized.
“DoL must issue a strong ergonomics standard that requires employers to take action to eliminate ergonomic hazards before more workers are injured,” Harnage concluded. “Nothing less will do.”
The American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO, is the largest union for government employees, representing 600,000 federal workers in the United States and overseas, as well as employees of the District of Columbia. Visit AFGE's Web site to learn more about AFGE and its position on ergonomic standards.