Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (Sec. 19) and an executive order issued in 1980 (No. 12196), federal agency heads must "establish and maintain an effective and comprehensive occupational safety and health program which is consistent with the standards promulgated."
In addition to the safety and health program, agencies are required to maintain personal protective equipment, keep records of all occupational injuries and illnesses, and make an annual report to the secretary of labor.
Injury and illness rates in the federal government sector have fallen in recent years, but still are slightly higher than the private sector. Federal rates can vary widely among different departments.
In fiscal year 2009, federal workers filed more than 79,000 new workers' compensation claims and received more than $1.6 billion in payments, according to a presidential memorandum in July.
To help reduce these numbers, President Barack Obama announced in the memo that he was establishing a four-year initiative – Protecting our Workers and Ensuring Reemployment. The initiative sets performance targets, encourages the collection and analysis of injury and illness data, and prioritizes effective safety and health programs.
"Executive departments and agencies can and should do even more to improve workplace safety and health, reduce the financial burden of injury on taxpayers, and relieve unnecessary suffering by workers and their families," Obama said in the memo. POWER replaces an earlier program – the Safety, Health and Return-to-Employment Initiative – and sets more aggressive goals.
The Federal Agency Targeting Inspection Program, launched in 2008, involves OSHA targeting specific federal establishments. For 2011, FEDTARG will focus on establishments reporting 100 or more lost-time cases in fiscal year 2010, half of the establishments reporting 50-99 LTCs, and 10 percent of those reporting 20-49 LTCs.
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