President Obama Calls for Improved Federal Workplace Safety in New Executive Memo


President Barack Obama issued an Executive Memorandum yesterday announcing the Protecting Our Workers and Ensuring Reemployment (POWER) Initiative, a program which seeks to improve worker safety and lower costs related to workplace injuries.

According to the memorandum, more than 79,000 federal employees required workers’ compensation in fiscal year 2009, costing a total of $1.6 billion in payments. Though these numbers are lower than those of years past, the President seeks to bolster this positive trend.

“Many of these injuries and illnesses are preventable, and executive departments and agencies can and should do more to improve workplace safety and health, reduce the financial burden of injury on taxpayers, and relieve unnecessary suffering by workers and their families,” said Obama.

Authorized through fiscal year 2014, the new program requires all federal departments and agencies to coordinate with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs to set performance goals for reducing workplace injury and illness rates.

The program will extend prior workplace safety and health efforts by setting more aggressive performance targets, encouraging the collection and analysis of data on the causes and consequences of frequent or severe injury and illness, and prioritizing safety and health management programs that have proven effective in the past. Furthermore, it requires each executive department and agency to improve its performance in seven different areas, such as reducing total injury and illness case rates, reducing lost time injury and illness case rates, and increasing the timely filing of workers’ compensation claims, among others.

“The POWER Initiative is truly a win-win for the federal workforce and the American taxpayer,” said NFFE National President William R. Dougan. “Reducing the number workplace injuries and illness makes the government a safer and more productive place to work. Workplace safety is a very serious issue for us, and we are pleased to see President Obama make it a priority to his Administration.”

For more information on the POWER Initiative, click here.