After working together on ergonomics issues for more than a decade, OSHA and the American Meat Institute (AMI) have announced a formal alliance - one of about a dozen the agency has formed with various trade groups and professional societies. Ergonomics is the focus of many of the agreements.

"OSHA and AMI are committed to reducing ergonomic hazards in the workplace," OSHA chief John Henshaw said. "We worked together in 1990 to develop ergonomic guidelines for meatpacking plants. Now, this alliance provides an even stronger opportunity to reach out to the meat industry and reduce occupational musculoskeletal disorders even more."

The alliance sets specific goals and priorities - including providing AMI members and others in the meat industry with information to help protect workers' health and safety, focusing on reducing and preventing exposure to ergonomic hazards. The agreement also calls for both organizations to provide training on ergonomics techniques, program structure and applications in the meat industry.

A team of OSHA and AMI representatives will meet at least quarterly to develop an action plan, determine working procedures, and identify the roles and responsibilities of the participants.