OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents|
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 productivity."
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 geographical distribution.
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