OSHA and Johnson & Johnson have signed an agreement to help develop and identify best practices to reduce ergonomics injuries in the workplace. The three-year partnership will provide OSHA with first-hand knowledge of Johnson & Johnson's successful ergonomics programs.

"We know that Johnson & Johnson recognizes the seriousness of musculoskeletal disorders in their workforce," says OSHA chief John Henshaw. "We're delighted that they want to work with us in a cooperative manner that ultimately will benefit thousands of America's workers."

"Our vision is to be the world leader in health and safety by creating an injury-free workplace," says Ather Williams, Jr., Johnson & Johnson vice president for worldwide safety and industrial hygiene. "This partnership is an important step on this journey."

Joining Henshaw and Williams at the signing ceremony were Joseph Van Houten, Johnson & Johnson's global champion for ergonomics, and Monica V. Matlis, worldwide manager, ergonomics, Johnson & Johnson.

Johnson & Johnson will develop a written process to address ergonomics hazards in the workplace that cover management commitment and employee involvement, worksite analysis, hazard prevention and control, and training. OSHA will work with the company to develop an ergonomics protocol for assessing compliance requirements, and for communicating best practices.

Incentives for participating worksites include maximum allowable penalty reductions for ergonomics and other violations that are abated in a timely manner, six-month deferral in programmed inspections, and ergonomics technical assistance to assist and advise on specific issues.

A partnership management team from OSHA, Johnson & Johnson's operating companies, and labor unions will oversee and coordinate the partnership. That team will develop appropriate criteria to measure the partnership's progress. Measures will include the number of company sites where best practices and ergonomics processes have been implemented, the number of MSD cases involving restricted work activity and days away from work, and the identification and documentation of nine best practices and related training materials.