Tuesday, October 6, 1998
OSHA Contact: Frank Kane (202) 219-8151
NPS Contact: Carol Anthony (202) 208-4989
NPS AND OSHA SIGN AGREEMENT THAT WILL IMPROVE
EMPLOYEE SAFETY AND HEALTH IN NATIONAL PARKS
National Park Service (NPS) employees will enjoy greater safety
and health on the job as a result of an agreement signed today
between the park service and the Occupational Safety and
Health Administration (OSHA).
National Park Service Director Robert Stanton and Assistant
Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Charles
N. Jeffress signed the agreement today at the historic Thomas
Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Secretary of Labor Alexis M. Herman said, "One of our top
goals at the Department of Labor is to provide quality workplaces
for America's workers. The National Park Service is committed to
developing quality workplaces for the public servants who staff our
nation's parks, recreation areas and seashores. The agreement
stresses the importance of providing a safe and healthful working
environment for park service employees." Deputy Secretary of
Labor Kathryn Higgins represented Herman at the signing.
In an unprecedented move, the National Park Service approached
OSHA for assistance in improving safety and health programs for
its employees at10 selected park sites. These sites will later serve
as models for the entire park service.
"We are confident that this agreement will result in a far safer
working environment for our employees, better employee training
and a more focused safety and health program," Stanton said.
"The National Park Service has a serious problem. Our employees
are getting hurt on the job in record numbers. I am determined to
turn this terrible trend around. It is taking a tremendous toll in
terms of human suffering, workers' compensation costs and lost
Deputy Secretary Higgins said, "The safety and health of federal
workers is just as important as the safety and health of their
counterparts in the private sector. The best way to protect them
is an effective safety and health program to find and fix hazards."
Jeffress added, "Central to our agreement with the NPS is the
commitment to establish or improve the health and safety program
at each site. The benefits of this agreement will accrue to all
Park Service employees."
In recent years, the NPS has experienced the highest employee
accident rates of all Interior Department bureaus. To address
this problem, the NPS is exploring several new approaches to
managing worksite safety and health. Some key strategies include:
complying with OSHA standards; addressing unsafe work practices,
which accounts for approximately 90 percent of all employee
accidents; using consultants to provide assistance to selected parks
to help them develop and manage an effective and comprehensive
safety program; managing workers' compensation cases and helping
employees who are temporarily disabled to return to work when
they are physically capable; investigating suspected cases of fraud
and abuse of workers' compensation benefits; and providing safety
and health training for managers, supervisors and employees.
"It is also our intent that every NPS office and site eventually
qualifies for OSHA's Voluntary Protection Program," said Stanton.
"The criteria for this program is a prescription for safety excellence.
We have already adopted that criteria as the basis of our servicewide
safety effort in our risk management program."
The 10 parks named in the agreement are: Cape Cod National
Seashore, Mass.; Fire Island National Seashore, N.Y.; National
Capital Parks-Central, D.C.; Rock Creek Park, D.C.; Cape Hatteras
National Seashore, N.C.; Isle Royale National Park, Mich.; Sleeping
Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Mich.; Padre Island National Park,
Texas; Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Calif., and Yosemite
National Park, Calif. These parks were selected on the basis of the
high number of lost-time accidents, category of park and