The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) launched a partnership with the state of Wisconsin, six foundries and four unions to reduce ergonomic injuries.

OSHA health and safety partnerships are part of U.S. Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao's ongoing efforts to improve health and safety for workers through cooperative programs.

The goals of the partnership are to implement a successful ergonomic program, reduce the incidence and severity of musculoskeletal disorders at participating facilities, analyze workstations and work processes for ergonomic hazards, and document ergonomic control measures and best practices that can be shared with other foundries and the public.

"This partnership will help employers implement effective safety and health management systems to identify and control serious hazards before they can cause injuries," said Mel Lischefski, OSHA's area director in Appleton.

Joining in the three-year initiative with OSHA's area office in Appleton are the Neenah Foundry Company, Neenah; ThyssenKrupp Waupaca Inc., Waupaca; Brillion Iron Works, Brillion; Roloff Manufacturing Corp., Kaukauna; Manitowoc Grey Iron Foundry Inc., Manitowoc; and the Wisconsin Aluminum Foundry Co., Manitowoc.

Labor unions participating in the partnership include the Glass, Molders, Pottery, Plastics & Allied Workers, Local 121B, Local 301 and Local 271; United Steel Workers of America, Local 125; International Association of Machinist & Aero Space Workers, Local 516; and the Paper Allied-Industrial Chemical and Energy Workers International Union, Local 70475. The Wisconsin Health Consultation Program will also participate.

Under the terms of the partnership, members will implement an ergonomic program that includes management leadership, employee involvement, medical management, risk analysis, risk controls, and training and education.

Participation in the partnership is voluntary but carries incentives for those involved, including a six-month deferral from programmed inspections and limited penalty reductions for violations found during inspections. Non-serious violations corrected during an inspection also will not be cited. OSHA will still conduct inspections in response to reports of imminent danger, a fatality or a catastrophic accident.