APWU Web News Articles

Efforts to Reduce Ergonomic Injuries Showing Positive Results at Postal Service

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07/13/2007 - Postal Service employees are experiencing fewer ergonomic injuries since the formation of an OSHA-organized labor/management partnership in 2003.

The joint venture between the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the APWU, the National Postal Mail Handlers Union (NMHU) and the USPS not only has helped to reduce the number of injuries, it has saved money.

“Through identification and resolution of ergonomic risks, the Postal Service has saved $1.8 million in workers’ compensation costs,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Edwin G. Foulke Jr. The savings are a result of “a 38 percent reduction in the musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) recordable rate,” he said.

“By bringing management, unions and employees together to cooperatively identify potential hazards and ergonomic health risks,” Foulke said, “the Postal Service, through this partnership, is transforming its workplace safety and health ergonomic program into a model for both the public and private sector.”

A partnership publication, “Examples of Good Ergonomics Practices at the U.S. Postal Service,” outlines the steps that have been taken to reduce ergonomic-related injuries in the workplace.

The document illustrates potential ergonomic-related injuries and describes the proactive measures taken to correct the situations. Several of the measures proven to prevent injuries can be implemented for less than $100.

The OSHA partnership created the Ergonomic Risk Reduction Process (ERRP) in 2003. Once ERRP has been initiated in a facility, an ergonomist uses a 10-step process to identify and analyze jobs with high rates of musculoskeletal diseases. The ergonomic risk of such jobs is considered as the basis for an implementation plan and determining the cost of the probable solution. 

OSHA experts feel the ERRP is successful in large part because of its clearly defined goals to improve mail flow and morale. It results in a better trained workforce, and assigns individual responsibility for job improvements.

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