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News Release USDL 98-197
Wednesday, May 6, 1998
Contact: Frank Kane (202) 219-8151
Joint Commission: Cathy Barry-Ipema (630) 792-5630


Vice President Gore's prestigious Hammer Award will be presented Thursday to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations for their joint work in improving the health and safety of health care workers.

"This partnership between OSHA and the Joint Commission is a very fruitful alliance," said Labor Secretary Alexis M. Herman. "It has dramatically expanded OSHA's reach in the health care industry and produced a results-oriented voluntary performance strategy that has improved worker safety and health throughout the industry."

The award will recognize OSHA and the Joint Commission for their training of health care personnel in both OSHA and Joint Commission standards covering worker safety and health.

"We are very pleased that our work with OSHA is being honored today," said Dennis O'Leary, M.D., president of the Joint Commission. "This award spotlights what is possible when organizations collaborate to achieve goals that one alone could not reach."

John Kamensky, deputy project director for Vice President Gore's National Partnership for Reinventing Government, will present the award in ceremonies at 4:30 p.m. CDT in the Joint Commission headquarters in Oakbrook Terrace, Ill. Attending the ceremonies will be Emily Sheketoff, deputy assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health, DOL, Dr. O'Leary, and Michael Connors, OSHA Regional Administrator for Region V.

The Hammer Award recognizes excellence achieved by teams and partnerships in helping to reinvent government. The award consists of a $6 hammer, a ribbon, and a note from Vice President Gore, all in an aluminum frame. Today's award is the 11th presented to OSHA personnel.

The Joint Commission is a private, not-for-profit organization that evaluates and accredits more than 5,200 hospitals and more than 12,000 other health care organizations. In addition to evaluating various aspects of patient care and organization management, the Joint Commission also reviews health care facility functions that have an impact on the safety and health of workers in accredited facilities.

OSHA began a three-year educational partnership with the Joint Commission in August 1996. The partnership is designed to foster improvement in education about the management of safety and health issues in health care organizations and to minimize duplication in compliance activities.

The partnership involves identifying examples that show how health facilities can comply with both OSHA regulations and Joint Commission standards without undertaking duplicative activities. In addition, the two organizations have collaborated on the development of educational materials and have jointly sponsored educational seminars and programs, including the development of audio-visual materials.

The two organizations have worked together on:

  • Identifying areas of common ground, developing training materials and conducting training sessions.

  • Writing specific safety and health examples in Joint Commission accreditation manuals for health care facilities that illustrate how compliance with an OSHA standard also satisfies Joint Commission standards. The manuals have been sent to thousands of hospitals, long-term care facilities, ambulatory care programs and home care programs.

  • Producing a 90-minute satellite television network presentation on the partnership. The program featured video presentations of exemplary safety and health projects in health care and was viewed by 12,000 to 14,000 health care workers nationwide.

  • Producing print publications to promote the partnership.


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