Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the NIEHS Trainers Exchange in Fort Lauderdale, FL, where presenters from the many different grantee groups such as the USW Tony Mazzocchi Center gave workshops on the new innovative techniques and tools for effective worker training. But what I found most interesting were the discussions that occurred after and between the workshops. Surprisingly, they weren’t centered on the new ideas that were being shared. Instead, the primary concern was that our focus on the “New and Improved” was causing us to lose sight of where we all started. We were afraid, in effect, that we were losing our grasp on the basics of worker-to-worker training that we all learned back in our Train-The-Trainer sessions.
I can’t think of a better way to revisit those basic lessons than through a review of the three core values we have always tried to build into our own Small Group Activity Method (SGAM).
We believe in worker-centered training.
- Every person in the small group brings experience and knowledge to the table.
- The instructor’s task is not to tell stories and lecture but to draw out stories and information from the class participants.
SHARE THE POWER
We believe in overcoming apathy by sharing the power.
- We seek worker input. We list their ideas and comments on flip charts and post them around the room. We give as much credence to the contributions from the shop floor worker as to the manager seated with him at the table. As instructors it is our duty to make sure this happens in the classroom – that no one’s ideas are ignored and no group taken over by a single, forceful individual.
WE WORK COLLECTIVELY
More heads are better than one.
- Whether in the classroom or in real life - workers WORKING TOGETHER to solve problems, are always more productive, efficient and creative than individuals working alone. It’s not unusual to have a group where everyone is working on the task alone rather than pooling their resources. Therefore, it is the instructor’s job to encourage them to work together as a group and gain the advantage of their multiple viewpoints and experiences.
Federal regulatory agencies are reporting higher numbers than ever when placing a monetary value for human life. This number is important because it dictates how much money is spent to prevent deaths.
From the New York Times:
The Environmental Protection Agency set the value of a life at $9.1 million last year in proposing tighter restrictions on air pollution. The agency used numbers as low as $6.8 million during the George W. Bush administration.
The Food and Drug Administration declared that life was worth $7.9 million last year, up from $5 million in 2008, in proposing warning labels on cigarette packages featuring images of cancer victims.
The Transportation Department has used values of around $6 million to justify recent decisions to impose regulations that the Bush administration had rejected as too expensive, like requiring stronger roofs on cars.
And the numbers may keep climbing. In December, the E.P.A. said it might set the value of preventing cancer deaths 50 percent higher than other deaths, because cancer kills slowly. A report last year financed by the Department of Homeland Security suggested that the value of preventing deaths from terrorism might be 100 percent higher than other deaths.
Submitted by Andrew Fatato
Photo by Abrahm Lustgarten/ProPublica
A leak in the Trans Alaskan Pipeline System (TAPS) discovered over the weekend has halted most oil production on Alaska's North Slope. Roughly 10 barrels of spilled crude was found in a pump station basement, forcing operators to shut down production. That stoppage results in a 12% drop in daily U.S. oil production. TAPS is expected to resume production this week.
The relatively small leak raises large concerns, however. ProPublica reports that the leak is just the latest in a series of recurring problems receiving only temporary fixes. Unsurprisingly, BP is involved. From ProPublica's report:
BP, the pipeline company’s largest single owner, has called it a “significant event.”
BP is no stranger to pipeline problems in Alaska. We recently reported that a BP maintenance report in October found severe corrosion throughout its own system of pipelines, and workers had complained of “Band-Aid” solutions to long-running maintenance issues.
DOT's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration does not need to approve TAPS repairs this week to get the pipeline restarted, but we'll be watching to see if regulators begin addressing what may be a looming safety concern.
The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency have recently proposed new emissions and fuel efficiency standards, set to be in full effect by 2018. From the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administaration Fact Sheet:
Our country has two intertwined and critically important needs - to reduce oil consumption and to address global climate change. NHTSA and EPA are proposing the HD National Program to meet these needs by reducing fuel use and GHG emissions from on-highway transportation sources. The effect of these actions will be to improve energy security, increase fuel savings, reduce GHG emissions, and provide regulatory certainty for manufacturers.
Setting fuel consumption standards for the heavy-duty sector will improve our energy security by reducing our dependence on foreign oil, which has been a national objective since the first oil price shocks in the 1970s. Net petroleum imports now account for approximately 60 percent of U.S. petroleum consumption. Transportation accounts for about 72 percent of our domestic oil use, and heavy-duty vehicles account for about 17 percent of transportation oil use.
Transportation sources emitted 29 percent of all U.S. GHG emissions in 2007 and have been the fastest-growing source of U.S. GHG emissions since 1990.3 The primary GHGs of concern from transportation sources are carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and hydrofluorocarbons (HFC). The heavy-duty sector addressed in this joint proposal accounted for nearly six percent of all U.S. GHG emissions and 20 percent of transportation GHG emissions in 2007. Within the transportation sector, heavy-duty vehicles are the fastest-growing contributor to GHG emissions.
The new standards would drastically cut down on the fuel usage of vehicles ranging from tractors and heavy duty pickup trucks, to delivery vehicles. You can see the specific guidelines here.
The NHTSA and EPA are looking for your input. Feel free to voice your opinion by visiting regulations.gov and commenting on Docket No. EPA-HQOAR-2010-0162.
Submitted by Andrew Fatato