NH Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health To Honor Workers On Workers Memorial Day

WMD+2014+poster20X14PNG

WMD+2014+poster20X14PNG

No matter how hard we work, how hard we try, and people are still going to be injured on the job.  Every day labor unions are pushing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to create a safer workplace for all workers.

For over 40 years, unions have been working with OSHA to identify workplace hazards and identify employers who are cutting corners that put workers safety at risk.

New Hampshire has always taken pride in the fact that we are one of the safest states to work in.  Over the last few years, New Hampshire has led the country with the least number of on the job deaths.  With only seven workplace deaths this year will be no different.

Workers memorial day

Once a year America’s unions and safety organizations, like the NH Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health, honor these workers who lost their lives on the job.  The day, dubbed Workers Memorial Day, honors workers while renewing our effort to make our jobs safer.

This year the NH Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health will be holding their annual Workers Memorial Day dinner.

Worker’s Memorial Day will be held on April 28th, at 5:30 at the Plumbers and Steamfitters Hall, 161 Londonderry Turnpike, Hooksett, NH.

This year we have identified 7 individuals who lost their lives on the job in New Hampshire in 2013.  We will be adding their names to our perpetual memorial plaque.  There will be a buffet dinner and guest speakers.  There is no registration fee for this event.

The focus of the meeting is to remind everyone that, despite the passage of the OSH Act over 40 years ago, thousands of workers are injured or killed on the job every year, some of whom may never return to work.

The event is open to everyone, but space is limited.  For more information contact Karla R. Armenti at karmenti@dhhs.state.nh.us.

 

For more information on Workers Memorial Day go to the AFL-CIO Website where you can find a WMD celebration in your area.

LIUNA Pushes for Action on Silica

LIUNA - The Laborers' International Union of North America
LIUNA - The Laborers' International Union of North America

LIUNA – The Laborers’ International Union of North America

Washington, D.C. – As the U.S. Department of Labor concluded its final day of public hearings on a proposed rule to prevent exposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica in the workplace, officials from the Laborers’ Health and Safety Fund of North America, LIUNA Training and other LIUNA affiliates testified on the new proposed standard. Their testimony follows several weeks of testimony by various representatives of labor, industry and associations.  The new proposed standard, announced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), aims to limit American workers’ risk of lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and kidney disease caused by Silica dust inhalation.

At the hearing, LIUNA officials urged the department to act fast in finalizing the silica rule since this dangerous dust is already causing millions to suffer unnecessary death and diseases like silicosis and lung cancer. During the more than 16 years spent developing this proposal, there have been no requirements to train workers on silica or monitor exposure levels. If approved, this new rule could save thousands of lives by limiting dust exposure with control methods, such as water and ventilation, and providing medical exams for workers who have been exposed.

Excerpts below:

“Last year, my doctor advised me to stop work. He had diagnosed me with silicosis and advised me to avoid job sites where I could be exposed to silica… It may be too late to prevent my illness, but my fellow sandhogs and young workers who are just starting to do tunnel construction deserve better protection.” – EDDIE MALLON, MEMBER of LABORERS’ LOCAL #147

“Some of the potential for our most severe exposures are in tunnel work where the confined nature of the work, the often limited ventilation and the ability of tunnel boring machines and other tunnel equipment to generate dust from excavating large amounts of material can lead to substantial silica exposures.” – JAMES MELIUS, MD, DrPH, ADMINISTRATOR of NY STATE LABORERS HEALTH AND SAFETY TRUST FUND

“OSHA’s proposed Silica in Construction standard should take a stronger stance in providing the training and information workers need… it is imperative that workers directly engaged in dust-generating operations receive task and equipment specific training.” – TOM NUNZIATA, LIUNA TRAINING AND EDUCATION FUND

“We recommend that OSHA include and strengthen the competent person provisions in the final rule. We believe the competent person is one of OSHA’s most vital and effective safety and health tools in the construction industry and must be a part of the new rule.” – TRAVIS PARSONS, SENIOR SAFETY & HEALTH SPECIALIST of LABORERS’ HEALTH AND SAFETY FUND OF NORTH AMERICA

There are thousands of workers every day in the U.S. exposed to similar conditions on the job, and we need this new standard to offer better protection to these men and women for silica exposures in construction… we urge OSHA to quickly publish a final rule.” – KEN HOFFNER, MSPH, CIH, CSP, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR of NEW JERSEY LABORERS’ HEALTH AND SAFETY FUND

“[W]e see that states and municipalities are passing laws to protect their citizens and workers from silica containing dust… it is imperative that OSHA move forward with the standard… Greater production, use and protection would be ensured.” – WALTER JONES, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH of LABORERS’ HEALTH AND SAFETY FUND OF NORTH AMERICA

“We believe a new OSHA standard with a lowered PEL will spur innovation in the construction industry… By changing the culture through a new standard, we can preserve worker health, help construction workers lead longer and healthier lives and, based on much of the testimony to date, likely make work more productive in the process.” – SCOTT SCHNEIDER, DIRECTOR OF OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH of LABORERS’ HEALTH AND SAFETY FUND OF NORTH AMERICA

New England Bricklayers Testify in Support of OSHA’s Proposed Silica Rule

Highway road workers

Highway road workersToday, members of the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (BAC) testified at the public hearings held by the Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) in support of the adoption of OSHA’s proposed silica standard affecting more than 2.1 million workers. BAC has fought for more than four decades for a stronger, more comprehensive standard to reduce silica exposure and protect workers in the construction industry.

Led by the International Union President James Boland, five BAC members including Local 2 Michigan members Tom Ward and Dale McNabb, Local 5 Oklahoma/Arkansas/Texas member Tommy Todd, Local 3 Massachusetts/Maine/New Hampshire/Rhode Island member Sean Barrett, and Local 3 Arizona/New Mexico member Dennis Cahill told their stories of silica exposure, a jobsite poison that has injured and killed thousands of workers. Their testimonies provided incontrovertible evidence that the provisions of OSHA’s proposed silica standard are reasonable, feasible and necessary to protect workers. The standard once implemented is expected to prevent more than 1600 illnesses and nearly 700 deaths annually.

President Boland stated in his testimony, “It’s been four decades. Four decades. Workers are still getting sick and dying from silicosis and there is no denying it anymore. Enough is enough. Workers in the construction trades are counting on us to enact the new standards. They need protection. NOW.”

To learn more about OSHA’s proposed silica standard, please visit:https://www.osha.gov/silica/

The International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers, headquartered in Washington, D.C., is the oldest continuous union in North America and represents roughly 85,000 skilled masonry-trowel trades craftworkers in the United States and Canada, including bricklayers, tile setters, cement masons, plasterers, stone masons, marble masons, restoration workers, and terrazzo and mosaic workers.

Hispanic Immigrant Workers To Testify For Stronger Regulations On Silica Dust Exposure At Safety Hearing

Silica Dust Worker Mask Thumb

New Limits Needed on Workplace Dust, Say Those Who Breathe it Every Day 

Washington DC –Hispanic immigrants from the construction and foundry industries who are directly affected by silica dust, a widespread industrial hazard, will testify today before an administrative law judge of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

“We are exposed to the poison,” said José Granado, a construction worker from Houston who came to the United States from El Salvador 15 year ago. “I came to the U.S. looking for a better life. However due to risky and unsafe work that I’m doing in the construction industry, it’s looks like that instead of getting a better life, I came to give mine away.”

At issue is a landmark new regulation, the first proposed by OSHA in many years, which would limit exposure of workers to silica dust. Hearings on the proposed rule, which began at the U.S. Department of Labor on March 18th, will continue through April 4th. Dust from building materials and other industrial processes is common in construction, foundries, glassmaking, hydraulic fracking and other industries.

Experts from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) have testified that exposure to silica dust can cause silicosis, lung cancer, pulmonary tuberculosis, airways diseases, and autoimmune disorders.  OSHA is proposing a new limit of 50 micrograms of silica dust per cubic meter of air space, a standard that was first recommended by NIOSH in 1974.

Seven immigrant workers from Houston, Milwaukee, New Jersey and Philadelphia and will testify in Spanish today with the aid of an interpreter. Today’s testimony is a rare opportunity for top government officials to hear from workers directly impacted by proposed safety regulations.

The workers are affiliated with local worker centers and health and safety groups, including Fe y Justicia Workers’ Center in Houston, Voces de la Frontera in Milwaukee, New Labor in New Jersey and the Philadelphia Area Project on Occupational Safety and Health.

“Immigrant workers often have few options but to take dirty, dangerous jobs that lack proper safety precautions,” said Jessica Martinez, deputy director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, a worker advocacy coalition. “These men and women typically work outside the standards of a union contract, which can make it especially difficult to access training and protection from silica dust and other workplace hazards. They are breathing in dangerous dust every day. Their voices must be heard when considering how to make our workplaces as safe as possible.”

According to Granado, contractors routinely ignore safety precautions.

“They only care that the construction project will be completed on time. They don’t care that we work long hours, and we are exposed all those hours, they don’t give us any protective equipment, do not use water or any equipment to vacuum away the dust.

Some coworkers are afraid to report what happens, because the first thing the company tells us that if we do not want to work in that conditions, if we do not like, we have to go to work elsewhere.”

Also testifying today is Jonas Mendoza, a construction worker from New Jersey who is a safety liaison for New Labor. He plans to tell OSHA:

“In the construction industry contractors do not provide the workers with the basics to do the job. In many instances if you ask for protective equipment they give you a mask from the 99 cents store to shut you up… All the contractors should be more considerate with their workers. There are feasible ways to control dust, to prevent contamination of the environment and without hurting the people that perform these jobs.

We are also exposed to dust and we have a high probability of getting lung related diseases as a result of inhaling hazardous dusts.  We don’t even know that is affecting us. Many times we do these jobs without any protection. We are exposed to hazards on demolition jobs in unsafe conditions, in places that are not cleaned, places where there is not even a place to wash your hands before eating. Places where everything is cover in dust.”

In addition to today’s witnesses, who are directly affected by dust exposure, National COSH workplace safety experts will testify before OSHA next Tuesday, April 1st.
ALSO

USW panels to testify in OSHA hearings on proposed standard for workplace exposure to crystalline silica

Panels representing the United Steelworkers (USW) who are job safety specialists will each present testimony this morning at public hearings being held by the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) in support of a OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration) proposed standard to protect workers from silica exposure.

The two USW panels will include workers from facilities where job exposure to respirable crystalline silica occurs daily. USW members are exposed to silica in foundries, glass making, refractory manufacturing and shipyards. The hearings begin each day at 9:30 am and run Mar. 18 – Apr. 4 in the Cesar Chavez Auditorium at the USDOL (200 Constitution Ave., NW).

Silica dust is a killer. It causes silicosis, a disabling lung disease that literally suffocates workers to death. It also causes lung cancer, respiratory and kidney diseases.

The proposed rule would cut permitted dust exposure levels in half; require exposure monitoring; medical exams for workers and implementation of dust control methods. The updated standard would protect more than two million workers exposed to deadly silica dust.

Panels representing the United Steelworkers (USW) who are job safety specialists will each present testimony this morning at public hearings being held by the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) in support of a OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration) proposed standard to protect workers from silica exposure.

The two USW panels will include workers from facilities where job exposure to respirable crystalline silica occurs daily. USW members are exposed to silica in foundries, glass making, refractory manufacturing and shipyards. The hearings begin each day at 9:30 am and run Mar. 18 – Apr. 4 in the Cesar Chavez Auditorium at the USDOL (200 Constitution Ave., NW).

Silica dust is a killer. It causes silicosis, a disabling lung disease that literally suffocates workers to death. It also causes lung cancer, respiratory and kidney diseases.

The proposed rule would cut permitted dust exposure levels in half; require exposure monitoring; medical exams for workers and implementation of dust control methods. The updated standard would protect more than two million workers exposed to deadly silica dust.

103 years later: profits are STILL more important than people

triangle_shirtwaist

Cartoon refers to the Triangle fire and depicts a woman weeping over a grave, and asks the reader: "How soon will they be all forgotten?"Today marks the 103rd anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, when 146 garment workers were trapped behind locked doors.  Some of the young women burned to death; others died of smoke inhalation; still others jumped out of windows to certain death.

The good news is: this year even some mainstream media outlets are remembering the anniversary.

The bad news is: workers are still dying on the jobBangladeshChina … Pakistan … Nigeria… Italy

… even, still, here in the United States.  About 150 American workers die each day from workplace accidents or occupational illness.  (Yes, you did read that right: 150 each day.  But since they don’t die in the same place, from the same thing, these deaths don’t make the headlines.)

When will we stop thinking of profit margins as more important than people?

[Be warned: this video is graphic and may be disturbing]

Building Pathways NH Is Looking For Women Interested In Working In The Building Trades

BPNH_Flyer_2014 (1)

BPNH_Fact_Sheet3

BPNH_Flyer_2014 (1)

CLICK HERE FOR FULL IMAGE AND PRINTABLE PDF

Five weeks, hands-on training in a variety of construction trades including carpentry, electrical, sheetmetal, plumbing, pipefitting, insulating, blueprint reading, labor history, construction math, interview skills & more.

Classes begin Monday, May 12, and end Friday, Jun 13, 2014.
Free:  there is no charge for the program.

Classes meet Monday – Friday, 7am – 3:30pm (construction site hours)

Base location:  Carpenters Training Center, 900 Candia Rd, Manchester.  Students will also go to other Building Trades Training Centers as well as to an active construction site.

Students will receive OSHA 10 and First Aid/CPR certificates.  Spaces are limited – max 13 students.

Who is Qualified?

The program is designed for female New Hampshire residents who are unemployed or underemployed, who are physically able to work in construction, are 18 or older, are authorized to work in the US, have a high school diploma or GED, are drug free and agree to drug testing, are on time, are interested in a construction career, can pass an 8th grade level English and math test and who have access to reliable transportation.  Women of color and female veterans are strongly encouraged to apply.

How to Apply?

Attend an Information Session, 6 – 7:30 pm on March 11, 13, 17 or 24, at the Plumbers and Pipefitters hall, 161 Londonderry Turnpike, Hookset, NH.  Do NOT be late.

BPNH_Fact_Sheet2

Program Sponsors

The program is sponsored by the NH AFL-CIO, the NH State Building and Construction Trades Council, and the Carpenters Union.  It is supported by federal Workforce Investment Act funds, the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, and program partners.

For More Information

Contact Joe Gallagher, Building Pathways Program Coordinator, 603-948-8161, buildingpathwaysnh@gmail.com, PO Box 1097, Manchester, NH 03105.

Program information can also be found on Facebook at www.facebook.com/buildingpathwaysnh.

Print this information from PDF here.

Click here for Printable PDF of color flyer.

OSHA Releases New Resources To Protect Hospital Workers And Enhance Patient Safety

Screen Shot of New OSHA Site
Screen Shot of New OSHA Site

Screen Shot of new OSHA/Hospitals site

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration today launched a new educational Web resource, http://www.osha.gov/hospitals, which has extensive materials to help hospitals prevent worker injuries, assess workplace safety needs, enhance safe patient handling programs, and implement safety and health management systems. The materials include fact books, self-assessments and best practice guides.

“These new materials can help prevent hospital worker injuries and improve patient safety, while reducing costs,” said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. “At the heart of these materials are the lessons from high-performing hospitals that have implemented best practices to reduce workplace injuries while also improving patient safety.”

“By fostering research to identify injury risk factors and safety interventions, steps can be taken to save costs and enhance service to the patients,” said Dr. John Howard, director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

The website’s materials on safe patient handling are designed to address the most common type of injuries hospital workers face, and hospitals can use these resources to protect their workers, improve patient safety and reduce costs.

Hospital workers face serious hazards, including: lifting and moving patients, workplace violence, slips and falls, exposure to chemicals and hazardous drugs, exposures to infectious diseases and needlesticks. In 2012, U.S. hospitals recorded 250,000 work-related injuries and illnesses, almost 60,000 of which caused employees to miss work. Nationwide, workers’ compensation losses result in a total annual expense of $2 billion for hospitals.

Michaels was joined on a call announcing the resources by Howard, Dr. Lucian Leape, chairman of the Lucian Leape Institute at the National Patient Safety Foundation, and Dr. Erin S. DuPree, chief medical officer and vice president of the Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.

Duct Tape is No Substitute for Emergency Room: why workers need immigration reform

Silver Needle and Golden Thread by CarbonNYC via Flickr2
Immigrant Construction Carpenters (Photograph by Daniel Acker:Bloomberg)

(Photograph by Daniel Acker:Bloomberg)

Want to know why labor unions are pushing so hard to get immigration reform passed?

Get Eva Castillo and Liz Skidmore into a room together, and get them to start talking about undocumented workers here in New Hampshire.

Silver Needle and Golden Thread by CarbonNYC via Flickr2They’ll tell you about the undocumented construction worker who had his head sliced open – and his boss stitched it back together (needle and thread, no anesthesia, still on the worksite) and sent him back to work.

They’ll tell you about the undocumented worker who sliced his hand open with a power saw – and his boss patched him up with duct tape and sent him back to work.

They’ll tell you about the undocumented worker who was installing drywall at a prestigious private boarding school, fell from scaffolding and suffered a crush injury to his head.  This injured worker was taken to the hospital, in a coma.  When he was able to be discharged, the company owner’s wife picked him up, then left him alone at his apartment without medication.  After she left, he fell and stayed unconscious until the next day.  She came back to take him to the followup doctor’s appointment, where she acted as his translator and told the doctor that “everything was just fine”.  But everything wasn’t fine – and he couldn’t take care of himself, nevermind go back to work.  And if he couldn’t work, he couldn’t pay the rent on the company-owned apartment – and so the drywall company kicked him out.

That particular undocumented worker is back in his home country now: brain-injured, missing pieces of his skull and almost certainly not able to work again.  One more casualty of American’s economy.

Here in New Hampshire, 62% of undocumented workers do not know about workers’ compensationAlmost ten percent of those undocumented workers have been hurt on the job.

This Labor Day weekend, as you’re spending an extra day with family and friends, take just a few minutes to think about duct tape… worksite sutures… getting left completely alone after a life-threatening injury.

What a choice.  Go back to work – or go back to your home country.

Think about those workers, and you’ll understand why labor unions are pushing so hard for immigration reform.

——–

Eva Castillo is Coordinator for the New Hampshire Alliance of Immigrants and Refugees.  Liz Skidmore is a Business Manager for the New Hampshire Carpenters Local 118.  They routinely work with undocumented workers who would be otherwise voiceless and invisible.  Special thanks to them both, this Labor Day weekend.

 

OSHA Releases New Standards On Silica Exposure, The AFL-CIO Says It’s “Long Overdue”

Silica Dust Worker Mask Thumb

Silica Dust Worker Mask Full

Every day across the country workers put themselves in potential danger from Silica dust. Crystalline silica, a compound found in sand, quartz, flint, slate and other elements. Silica isn’t hazardous until it’s airborne, like when it is crushed, ground or cut with a saw.

“Exposure to airborne crystalline silica can put workers at risk of developing silicosis, a non-curable lung disease caused by accumulation of silica dust in the lungs. The dust embeds itself in the lungs and causes scar tissue to form. The scar tissue reduces the lungs’ ability to take in oxygen.” (source)

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration today announced a proposed rule aimed at curbing lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and kidney disease in America’s workers. The proposal seeks to lower worker exposure to crystalline silica, which kills hundreds of workers and sickens thousands more each year. After publication of the proposal, the public will have 90 days to submit written comments, followed by public hearings.

“Exposure to silica can be deadly, and limiting that exposure is essential,” said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. “Every year, exposed workers not only lose their ability to work, but also to breathe. This proposal is expected to prevent thousands of deaths from silicosis-an incurable and progressive disease-as well as lung cancer, other respiratory diseases and kidney disease. We’re looking forward to public comment on the proposal.”

Once the full effects of the rule are realized, OSHA estimates that the proposed rule would result in saving nearly 700 lives per year and prevent 1,600 new cases of silicosis annually.

“The proposed rule uses common sense measures that will protect workers’ lives and lungs-like keeping the material wet so dust doesn’t become airborne,” added Michaels. “It is designed to give employers flexibility in selecting ways to meet the standard.”

The AFL-CIO released this statement after OSHA announced proposed rule
to protect workers exposed to crystalline silica.

The AFL-CIO welcomes today’s release of OSHA’s proposed silica standard. This rule when finalized will help protect more than 2 million workers exposed to this deadly dust and save hundreds of workers lives each year. It is particularly important for workers in construction, foundries, shipyards and in oil and gas drilling who face the highest exposures.

This rule is long overdue. The development of the silica standard began more than 16 years ago.  Meanwhile workers have continued to suffer unnecessary disease and death.

Silica dust is a killer. It causes silicosis a disabling lung disease that literally suffocates workers to death. It also causes lung cancer and other diseases. The current OSHA silica standard was adopted decades ago and fails to protect workers.  It allows very high levels of exposure and has no requirements to train workers or monitor exposure levels. Simply enforcing the current rule, as some in industry have called for won’t protect workers.

But this new standard will. The proposed rule will cut permitted dust exposure levels in half, require exposure monitoring and medical exams for exposed workers and require the implementation of well-established dust control methods, like the use of water and ventilation.

But this rule is only a proposal – workers exposed to silica dust will only be protected when a final rule is issued.  Some industry groups are certain to attack the rule and try to stop it in its tracks. The AFL-CIO will do everything we can to see that does not happen. We urge the Obama administration to continue moving forward with the public rulemaking process without delay. The final silica rule should be issued as fast as humanly possible, to protect the health and lives of American workers.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka On Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security

Richard_Trumka

The AFL-CIO welcomes the Executive Order issued by President Obama today to address chemical hazards that threaten our nation’s workers and communities. This directive brings leadership and direction that is urgently needed to improve chemical safety and security throughout the country.

This past April, an explosion at a West, Texas, fertilizer plant, which killed 15 people and destroyed dozens of homes and businesses, revealed huge gaps in the regulation and oversight of chemical facilities. The Texas facility, which stored tons of the deadly chemical ammonium nitrate was exempt from key EPA and OSHA chemical safety rules and had not been inspected by OSHA since 1985.

But this was only the latest in a long series of chemical accidents that have resulted from gaps in regulation. Deadly explosions caused by reactive chemicals and processes that are exempt from OSHA’s process safety management standard have killed and injured hundreds of workers in the past two decades. The U.S. Chemical Safety Board has recommended immediate action to strengthen this rule, but this has not happened.

Today’s order outlines a comprehensive action plan to address chemical hazards. Once implemented, it will improve coordination of EPA, OSHA and DHS and other government agencies in their efforts to address these deadly hazards. It will provide local first responders with ready access to information so they can prepare for and respond to chemical emergencies, and it will enhance oversight of high-risk facilities. It will also spur action to modernize chemical safety regulations, including OSHA’s process safety management standard, which the AFL-CIO and unions have been seeking for many years.

President Obama’s order provides the direction and roadmap to address chemical hazards. The AFL-CIO looks forward to working with government agencies and other stakeholders to see that this order is implemented promptly and fully so our nation’s workplaces and communities are safe and secure.