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GATF/PIA OSHA Safety Alliance Announces Three Quarters of Success

Friday, April 04, 2003

Press release from the issuing company

ALEXANDRIA, VA (April 2, 2003) – The Graphic Arts Technical Foundation/Printing Industries of America (GATF/PIA) marked the third quarter of a successful partnership with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, with the recent appearance of OSHA Assistant Secretary John Henshaw at the industry’s National Environmental, Health and Safety Conference last week in Louisville, KY. Henshaw noted that the OSHA/printing industry alliance on ergonomics was the first of its kind where an industry took on a series of challenges outlined in OSHA’s voluntary ergonomics program – education, outreach, and research. The alliance agreement included three other printing trade associations (see attachment). “When we entered into the agreement with OSHA, we had no idea what a positive working relationship would develop,” said Wendy Lechner, Senior Director for Federal Employment Policy. “The safety awareness level in our industry is greatly increased and we will soon publish our own voluntary ergonomics guidelines. Without the guidance of OSHA personnel from many different offices, our industry would not be taking this bold step.” The Alliance agreement, signed in June 2002, required a cooperative arrangement between OSHA and printing industry participants in the areas of outreach and communications, training and education, and improving the national dialogue on safety. The industry comprises 13,000 business establishments and over 1 million workers. Lechner said, “While we have many achievements, the most significant has been the industry’s commitment to develop its own ergonomics guidelines. We believe that we can better tailor safety programs to conditions in the workplace with industry support than through any mandated one-size-fits-all federal program. We will be able to change our program as the science of ergonomics continues to develop.” The industry provided the seed money to research activities that could reduce ergonomics hazards in printing through the Center for Ergonomics at the University of Wisconsin. Roughly a dozen major printing companies offered their safety programs and many hours of expertise to perfect the guidelines. Separately, GATF applied for and received a $250,000 Susan B. Harwood OSHA grant to develop the materials to support the research product – workbooks, fact sheets, pocket cards, and a train-the-trainer program. Employee materials will be available in English and Spanish. The materials are currently at OSHA for review, with training expected to begin in late summer. In addition to the ergonomics guidelines, the Alliance has engendered other successes. A major advisory was published to encourage printers to use OSHA’s free on-site safety consultations and to develop their own voluntary compliance programs; OSHA compliance assistance specialists have provided direct assistance to association members; OSHA is working with the industry on a printing etool and printing safety page on its website; and GATF/PIA has promoted Alliances as an important safety tool to other trade associations. For more information on this alliance, visit www.gain.net or contact Wendy Lechner at 703/519-8196 or wlechner@printing.org.




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