Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Airport screeners' injury rate declines but still exceeds rates of other workers

Injury rate of airport screeners falling but still high ...

"The Transportation Security Administration dramatically cut the injury rate for airport screeners in the past year, though it remains among the highest in the nation.
On-the-job injuries, which have forced screeners to miss hundreds of thousands of workdays, fell to 16 per 100 employees in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, TSA data show. That's down from 29% in 2005 and 36% in 2004 in a trend some screeners attribute to a crackdown on injured workers.

"There's been a phenomenal focus placed on safety," said Earl Morris, TSA general manager for field operations. "The benefits are enormous" because fewer injuries mean more screeners at checkpoints and faster security lines.

The screener injury rate still far exceeds the rest of the federal government and the private sector. Screeners among a workforce of 47,000 are injured more often than workers in all but five of the roughly 600 jobs tracked by the Labor Department.

Morris said screeners have to lift heavy bags, often in awkward positions that cause strains. Injuries add to absenteeism that has forced the TSA to shut security lanes and violate a law requiring checked luggage to go through bomb detectors, according to congressional investigators.

The TSA has installed rollers and bag hoisters to relieve screeners from lifting, brought screeners back to work on light duty and attacked fraud with an inspections office that has prosecuted employees who allegedly falsified injury claims. "That sends a message that it's not something we're going to tolerate," Morris said. He provided no figures on alleged fraud.

The injuries cost taxpayers $58 million in fiscal 2006 to cover wages and medical benefits for injured screeners, the TSA said."    (Continued via USA Today)    [Usability Resources]

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