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Obama sets aggressive four-year safety goals for Federal Government (7/23)

This week President Obama sent a memorandum for the heads of executive departments and agencies outlining a new plan to protect Federal workers on the job: “The Presidential POWER Initiative: Protecting Our Workers and Ensuring Reemployment.”

Stated the memo; “Each year Federal civilian employees are injured or fall ill on the job in significant numbers. Although the Federal Government has made progress in reducing workplace injuries and illnesses in recent years, its workers (excluding those employed by the U.S. Postal Service) still filed more than 79,000 new claims and received over $1.6 billion in workers' compensation payments in fiscal year 2009. Many of these work-related injuries and illnesses are preventable, and 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.

Therefore, I am establishing a 4-year Protecting Our Workers and Ensuring Reemployment (POWER) Initiative, covering fiscal years 2011 through 2014. The POWER Initiative will extend prior workplace safety and health efforts of the Federal Government by setting more aggressive performance targets, encouraging the collection and analysis of data on the causes and consequences of frequent or severe injury and illness, and prioritizing safety and health management programs that have proven effective in the past.

Under the POWER Initiative, each executive department and agency will be expected to improve its performance in seven areas: (i) reducing total injury and illness case rates; (ii) reducing lost time injury and illness case rates; (iii) analyzing lost time injury and illness data; (iv) increasing the timely filing of workers' compensation claims; (v) increasing the timely filing of wage-loss claims; (vi) reducing lost production day rates; and (vii) speeding employees' return to work in cases of serious injury or illness. more

(Executive departments and agencies (except the U.S. Postal Service) shall coordinate with the Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Office of Workers' Compensation Programs to establish performance targets in each category. The Secretary of Labor shall lead the POWER Initiative by measuring both Government-wide and agency-level performance and reporting to me annually. Each executive department and agency shall bear its own costs for participating in the POWER Initiative, and nothing in this memorandum shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof.

This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

The Secretary of Labor is authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.

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