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Federal Worker 2000:
A Presidential Initiative
In the Federal sector, it is the responsibility of the department or agency head to provide employees with safe and healthful workplaces, free of recognized hazards that are likely to cause death or serious physical harm. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides assistance and guidance to these agencies in the form of technical assistance, program evaluation, hazard identification, training, abatement assistance, accident investigation and various endeavors aimed at creating channels of cooperation among agencies in the Federal sector safety effort. The Employment Standards Administration's Office of Workers Compensation Programs (OWCP) administers the Federal Employees Compensation Act. When, in spite of the best efforts, Federal workers are injured, OWCP provides compensation and payment of medical expenses while the employee is unable to work. In addition to paying fair compensation and legitimate medical bills, OWCP seeks to return the injured party to productive employment as quickly as possible.
Each year, approximately 160,000 new injury and illness claims are reported to OWCP, and that office pays out about 1.9 billion dollars to cover medical expenses and wage loss compensation. In addition to these obvious costs, each case represents the personal pain and suffering of the employee and his or her family, as well as a disruption in the productivity of the workplace due to the absence of skilled workers.
After focusing on this situation, President Clinton issued a memorandum to the heads of Executive Branch departments and agencies establishing a new initiative, the "Federal Worker 2000." In his July 2, 1999 memo, the President states that he wants, "to make the safety and health of every Federal worker a central value in each operation performed in Federal workplaces" and "to ensure that, when injuries do occur, Federal employees are given the best possible care and are returned to work as quickly as possible." In summarizing his hope for the outcome of this initiative, President Clinton states, "I am convinced that this new focus on safety and health in the Federal Government will result in fewer injured workers, significant cost reductions, and an enhanced ability to serve the American public."