OPA Press Release: Statement by Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao on Job-Related Injuries and Illnesses [03/28/2001]
The safety and health of America's workers is vital to our nation's overall well being and is my first priority. As Secretary of Labor, I am encouraged by the progress employers and workers alike are making in reducing workplace injuries and illnesses.
The new data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics covering 1999 shows us where our efforts are succeeding and where we need to direct our focus as we move toward developing a 21st Century Workforce.
One interesting point in the study is that as more Americans were in the workforce than ever before, the number of ergonomics-related injuries continued to decline. However, musculoskeletal injuries accounted for nearly one-third of all the injuries. This finding demonstrates the need for a solid, comprehensive approach to ergonomics. It also points to a need to address injuries before they occur, through prevention and compliance assistance, rather than just rely on reactionary methods. I am committed to joining with unions, employers, safety professionals and Congress to develop an effective strategy to further reduce these injuries. This is a serious problem. We are addressing it head-on, and we intend to find a solution that works.
Truck drivers, laborers and nurses' aides all suffer especially high injury and illness rates with time away from their jobs. These workers -- together with their employers, families and communities -- pay a high price for the loss. Together, we must keep finding ways to reduce these rates and improve the safety, health and productivity of these workers.