The effects of heightened security and lifting and sifting through all those bags is taking its toll on airport screeners — they report the highest rate of injury and illness among federal employees, according to OSHA.

The injury and illness incidence rate for screeners in 2002 was 19.4 percent, compared to the 5.5 percent average for all federal workers.

A Transportation Security Administration spokesman told the Associated Press the agency knows it has a problem on its hands and is taking steps to address it. Teaching better and safer lifting techniques is one action item.

The official blamed the lack of time airports had to prepare work areas. The agency had only a year to recruit and train tens of thousands of people to screen passengers and baggage at 429 commercial airports.