Posted in 'Mazzocchi'

Lynne Hancock, USW Communications

The Triangle of Prevention (TOP) program was born out of worker deaths and injuries.

During the 1980s and 1990s numerous catastrophic fires, explosions and toxic releases plagued the U.S. petrochemical industry, causing workers to suffer horrific deaths and injuries.

TOPOne of the landmark occupational health and safety incidents was the Oct. 23, 1989 explosion and fire at the Phillips 66 Company’s Houston Chemical Complex facility near the Houston Ship Channel in Pasadena, Texas, that killed 23 people and injured 314 others.

“Blame-the-Worker” company-driven health and safety programs were unable to reveal the root causes of these incidents and prevent them from reoccurring. So, in the mid-1990s the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers Union (OCAW) enlisted a team of rank-and-file members who were health and safety activists to develop a worker- and union-driven program to replace ineffective behavior-based safety (BS) programs, said John Scardella, the program administrator for the Tony Mazzocchi Center (TMC) that administers TOP.

He explained the program’s history to those attending the Sept. 26-28 TOP conference at Local 10-1’s union hall.

Limited Focus

OCAW member Glenn Erwin was one of the activists who formed TOP and later headed the program for PACE and the USW until he retired in 2012.

He and other members of the team knew the BS programs focused on slips, trips, falls, and worker behavior as a cause of incidents. Managers usually blamed workers for incidents, and prevention focused on wearing personal protective equipment instead of hazard elimination.

The team also saw how companies usually ignored how work processes contributed to a dangerous work environment.

“Glenn and his team saw that companies only focused on process safety when fires and explosions happened,” Scardella said. “There was also a failure to share lessons learned.

“Plus, companies used a low OSHA recordable rate to show how safe a plant was, which did not capture true safety,” he added.

The team wanted to create a pro-active health and safety program.

“Glenn Erwin knew that to prevent incidents from reoccurring, workers had to be involved in health and safety and control it along with management,” Scardella said. “The program puts workers in roles as trainers, investigators and leaders.”

Worker InvestigatorsTOP

TOP is composed of three sides: Systems of Safety Training and Investigations, Comprehensive Tracking of Results, and Union Design & Leadership.

The program requires everyone in a plant, including managers and non-represented staffers, to be trained on health and safety. Workers are trained to be trainers, to investigate incidents, to measure and track incidents and near misses, and to take a leadership role.

Employers agree to a no-discipline policy for reporting or being involved in a near miss. Plus, workers investigate incidents in conjunction with management and government agencies.

Scardella said it is essential for any TOP investigation process to use the logic-tree diagram method to find the root causes of incidents. If a worker made a mistake on the job that resulted in an incident or near miss, the logic tree is used to find what contributed to the worker making an error.

Locals have used logic-tree diagrams to settle grievances when companies wanted to discipline workers involved in an incident, Scardella said.

“Anyone can learn to use this method, and it can’t be manipulated. The logic tree is fact-based no matter the outcome,” he said. “Identifying accidents is not enough. Finding and fix-ing hazards is not enough. You need to identify root causes.”

Erwin and his team also made capturing lessons learned and passing them on a key part of TOP.

“It is important that we recognize TOP’s history,” Scardella said. “We are proud of that history. We stand here today on the shoulders of those who put the program together.”

View the original news article here.


Top: Jim Dannelley from USW Local Union 9-265 at the Shell Saraland, Ala., refinery makes a point during a TOP presentation. Photo by Mike Hancock, Local 9-562 retiree.

Bottom: TOP conference participants engaged in a small group activity to provide feedback on a new TOP training manual. They answered questions in the manual and discussed them. Photo by Mike Hancock, Local 9-562 retiree.

Posted In: Health and Safety, Mazzocchi, TOP, USW

Lynne Hancock, USW Communications

One of the strengths of the worker-driven Triangle of Prevention (TOP) program is the consistent follow-up on issues through full-time, union TOP representatives, a TOP Advisory Group and yearly gatherings.

The Tony Mazzocchi Center (TMC), which administers the program, held its annual conference on September 26-28 in Philadelphia. USW Local 10-1, which participates in TOP with its employer, Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery in South Philadelphia, Pa., hosted the conference at its local union hall.

Over 50 TOP representatives, alternates, and health and safety members from 16 USW locals and management personnel focused on ways to strengthen the program.

2017 Triangle of Prevention Conference

“We all have to work together to make TOP successful,” said Carmine Frangella, who is a Local 13-750 TOP alternate representative at the Shell Chemical plant in Norco, La., and a member of the advisory group.

TOP Recognition

A highlight of the labor-management sessions was the presentation of the 2017 Glenn Erwin Award to Local 9-675, representing the TOP site at the 3M plant in Guin, Ala., for a major near-miss investigation, and Local 912’s acceptance of the 2017 Fallen Workers Memorial Award for integration of the TOP program into the health, safety and environment department at PBF’s Toledo Refining Company in Oregon, Ohio.

Sharing Lessons Learned

During the first two days of the conference, participants discussed topics like better sharing of lessons learned, improved tracking of all health and safety training, involving an entire plant in TOP through refresher training, and writing success stories. They also engaged in an eight-hour refresher training on incident investigation.

Kevin Theriot, the Local 13-750 TOP representative from Shell’s Convent, La., refinery said the key is to have success stories written for management to read.

“During your 15-minute toolbox talk, share your successes and what you learned. We learn something so we may save a life today,” Scardella said.

Theriot also said it is important to share what was learned from incidents.

“What happened at one site might happen at another site even though it is another company,” he said.

During the union-only session, participants discussed how to grow participation at existing sites, expand TOP to other locations, and increase management participation in the TOP annual meetings. Each site reported on its program successes and challenges. The union participants also elected two new members of the advisory group to represent the paper and oil sectors.

Working Together

Longtime TOP participant “Cookie” Sonnier from Local 13-423 at the Motiva refinery in Port Arthur, Texas, advised the attendees to work with managers and gain their support.

“Glenn Erwin said we need management input. He got management into the TOP meetings and told them, ‘You come here to work. You are here to see how to prevent people from getting hurt and how you can correct it from happening again.’

The company people may tell each other about health and safety incidents, and it does not get to the rank-and-file. As workers, we have to let the company know we want their support. When it comes to people’s safety, there shouldn’t be conflicts. You are working toward a goal together, not against each other.”

For More Information

If you are interested in the TOP program, you can contact TOP Program Coordinator Steve Doherty,, (o) 412-562-2561 and TMC Program Administrator John Scardella,, (o) 412-562-2582.

View the original news article here.

PHOTO: Participants in the 2017 TOP Conference at the USW Local Union 10-1 union hall. Photo credit: Mike Hancock, USW Local 9-562 retiree

Posted In: Health and Safety, Mazzocchi, TOP, USW

Dawn Andreoli, TOP representative, USW Local Union 10-234Dawn Andreoli, Triangle of Prevention (TOP) representative and member of United Steelworkers (USW) Local Union 10-234, received the Leadership in Health and Safety Award from PhilaPOSH at the 33rd Annual Awards Reception.

USW Local 10-234 represents workers at Monroe Energy, a refinery located in Trainer, Pa. Andreoli also takes on the role of safety representative within her local.

The PhilaPOSH 33rd Annual Awards Reception took place on Nov. 17, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pa., where six awardees were recognized for their health and safety activism within their union or communities.

Andreoli was nominated by her local union for the Leadership in Health and Safety Award because of her ongoing commitment to health and safety.

“I was not aware of my entrance for the award; actually my union president entered me in the program,” Andreoli said. “I was surprised when I got it, it’s pretty exciting and it means more because the union president, Jonas Dauber, put it in.”

The PhilaPOSH award description reads:


USW Local 10-234 Safety Rep and T.O.P (Triangle of Prevention) Coordinator at the Monroe Energy refinery in Trainer, PA. Dawn was nominated by her local union for this award because of her outstanding work for workers’ safety and health at the refinery. She is credited with initiating and managing a new incident investigation program from scratch, part of the Triangle of Prevention (TOP) program that is union run and led. (courtesy of PhilaPOSH)

“If it wasn’t for everybody it would never happen, although I’m honored it is me, it’s really everybody,” Andreoli said.

She reiterates that the reason why she won this award was all due to the collective work of those who surround her, a foundation taken seriously within the TOP program.

“It wouldn’t happen if we all didn’t work together. That’s my main take from it all,” Andreoli said. “If we didn’t have support from the union, if we didn’t have support from the workers, if we didn’t have support from the Mazzocchi Center, if management didn’t buy in, we wouldn’t end up going anywhere.”

Posted In: Health and Safety, Mazzocchi, TOP, USW
Posted In: AFLCIO, CWA, Environment, Health and Safety, Labor Institute, Mazzocchi, NDLON, USW

From the Chillicothe Gazette:

PIKETON - An arrangement between four entities will provide for free job training for those interested in filling open positions with ongoing cleanup work at the former Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Piketon.

The arrangement involving the United Steel Workers Local 1-689, the Village of Piketon, the Pike County Career Technology Center and the Tony Mazzocchi Center for Health, Safety and Environmental Education was announced this week as also benefiting existing workers on the project in terms of cross training as the scope of work changes and needs for different skills emerge. … more

Posted In: Environment, Health and Safety, Mazzocchi, USW

United Steelworkers (USW) Local Union 11-560, representing members at Bobcat Corporation in Gwinner, N.D., participated in union health and safety training. July 18 and 19, 2017 consisted of Incident Investigation, and on July 20, the training concluded with Hazard Mapping.

“The Incident Investigation class included logic tree diagramming, which is a great tool to get to the root cause of an incident. Bobcat has incorporated the logic tree into their incident investigation report forms,” Frank Helebrant of Local 2-213 said.

Helebrant, along with Dennis Delie of Local 2-213, facilitated both courses and are long-time USW Tony Mazzocchi Center worker-trainers.

“A group of 33 trained in the Hazard Mapping class. The group found over 40 different hazards that they have been working around for many years. Through the Hazard Mapping process, the group was able to address many of these hazards and were able to come up with recommendations to design, or mitigate the hazards,” Helebrant said.

USW Local Union 11-560
Photos courtesy of Frank Helebrant.

Training reported in this brief is supported by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under award number U45ES006175. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIEHS, NIH.

Posted In: Health and Safety, Mazzocchi, USW

After Glenn Erwin became involved as a worker-trainer, he and a team of three others set out to design a program that would not only eliminate incidents leading to death or serious injury, but also prevent near-misses that lead to harmful occurrences. Erwin and his team began writing curriculum and studying current accident investigation methods such as the “five why’s” and computer-based “check the box” systems that directed workers to conclusions but didn’t necessarily protect them. These methods didn't settle well with Erwin, knowing that tragedies still occurred too often.

“Accidents happen outside of the box,” Erwin said at the recent TOP Conference.

After evaluating several different models of accident investigation, Erwin was finally interested in implementing the use of a logic tree. (See Logic Tree Diagramming below.)

“Anyone can learn how to use the method and it is not easily manipulated,” Erwin said.

TOP Logic Tree DiagrammingWith this decision Erwin concluded that union leadership could take on the role of incident investigation because the logic tree is fact-based no matter the outcome.

But again, just investigating accidents wasn’t enough; Erwin continued to develop methods to identify near-misses which would reduce incidents because investigators were finding and fixing hazards. Erwin and the rest of the team determined that the method would be to identify the root cause.

The curricula developers then went on to study investigations and fatalities recorded and found that similar incidents were occurring in a wide range of facilities. Capturing “lessons learned” from incidents and sharing the data throughout the specific industry would become another key aspect of the program.

With the generation of these methods and the findings from Erwin and the rest of the developers, the United Steelworkers (USW) Triangle of Prevention program came to life with union leadership at its foundation. Systems of safety and incident investigation structured one side, and measuring and tracking incidents closed the other, forming a triangle.

Glenn Erwin along with Dr. Thomas McQuiston, who are both grant program retirees, attended the TOP Conference which took place in Pittsburgh, Pa., from Sept. 13-15, 2016.

Dr. McQuiston’s two years of work coordinating TOP was essential to program advancement and his efforts are reflected in its continuation.

“I’ve stepped in to build on the foundation that Tom and Glenn effectuated,” Tony Mazzocchi Center Program Coordinator Steve Doherty said. “It’s important to continue to meet the needs and overcome the challenges of existing sites, and to also meet the changing needs of new and prospective sites.”

During the TOP Conference attendees consisting of TOP representatives, alternates and local union leadership participated in newly developed curricula titled “Metrics and Indicators.” They also worked together to identify ways in which the TOP teams and local union leadership could collaborate with one another to make the program more effective.

Other than specific training courses and connecting with staff, retirees and other sites, time was allotted for the recognition of two local unions for their outstanding accomplishments in health and safety through the TOP program.

USW Local Union 13-750 in District 13, representing the TOP site at Motiva Refinery in Convent, La., were given the Glenn Erwin Award for completing an investigation resulting in a significant improvement through the Design and Engineering System of Safety. The site is lead by TOP Representative Kevin Theriot, Alternate Camile Trabeau, Local Union President Marty Poche and Unit Chair Darrell Heltz.

After the site’s TOP program investigated the severe injury of a contractor, it recommended a design and engineering change to a hydraulic tensioner failure found to be a root cause of the incident. The tensioner manufacturer learned of the findings and invited the site’s TOP team to present their findings and recommendations, and to be involved in a system redesign. The new design was built and tested and an improved system was born. The company pulled all tensioner units out of service until they could be retrofitted to the newly designed safety device. This will change the hydraulic industry, making it safer.

Local Union 423 in District 13, representing the TOP site at Motiva Refinery in Port Arthur, Texas, were recipients of the Fallen Workers Memorial Award, for building solidarity and exhibiting collective involvement in the TOP program. The site is lead by TOP Representative Jeffrey Wright, TOP Alternate “Cookie” Sonnier, Local Union President Butch Chapman and Group Worker’s Committee Chairman Jeremy Walker.

In the wake of a long and difficult strike, the large oil refinery began a major plant shutdown and overhaul also known as a turnaround. The site’s TOP program began receiving increasing numbers of incident reports. The USW leadership recommended meeting this challenge with the creation of a TOP Turnaround Investigation Rapid Response Team. Over two months the team investigated approximately 60 incidents. The output allowed the team to better understand the systemic weaknesses across the site. In turn, this led to the establishment of a health and safety improvement plan. The USW leadership is also engaging the company in establishing a full-time Near-Miss Coordinator role and also training 23 hourly employees as TOP/Casual Learning Investigation Facilitators.

Both of these sites carried out TOP team and local union collaboration to work together toward improving the health and safety conditions for the members at both facilities and making it count. The TOP Conference proved to be an overall success which provided members with additional training and a convenient means to share experiences and lessons learned among the TOP community.

The Triangle of Prevention (TOP) Program is partially funded by a grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under award number U45ES006175. The TOP Program is administered by the United Steelworkers Tony Mazzocchi Center for Health, Safety and Environmental Education. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIEHS, NIH.

Posted In: Mazzocchi, TOP, USW

From April 25 to 29, a group of eight bilingual activists convened in Pittsburgh, Pa., for training to become part of a national cadre of Specialized Emergency Response Trainers. These newly qualified SERTs are representatives from Make the Road New York (MRNY), the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) and the Communications Workers of America (CWA). These organizations, in conjunction with the United Steelworkers (USW) and the Labor Institute, make up the Tony Mazzocchi Center partnership.

During the week-long course facilitated by TMC Program Administrator John Scardella, participants demonstrated individual and group presentations on how emergency responders need to protect themselves in the case of natural disasters, infectious disease outbreak and hazardous clean up instances. These trainees covered topics using the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) National Clearinghouse materials on Avian Flu, Dirty Bomb, Earthquakes, Wildfires, Flood or Hurricane, and Mold Clean Up and Treatment. They also utilized the TMC’s Small Group Activity Method (SGAM) along with other techniques that they would then apply in an emergency response situation.

These activists will join the rest of the SERTs in mid-July for a certification, or recertification for previous trainers, on the Incident Command System (ICS) and National Incident Management System (NIMS) courses.

“This will be a great opportunity to build solidarity between the two groups in working together as a cohesive unit in the case of an emergency response situation,” Scardella said.

Training reported in this article is supported by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under award number U45ES006175. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIEHS, NIH.

Posted In: Mazzocchi

Steve Doherty Program Coordinator, USW Tony Mazzocchi Center

USW District 2 conference "safety days"The United Steelworkers (USW) District 2 spring conference kicked off with two “safety days.” The theme of this year‘s classes focused on identifying hazards and conditions that led to, or that could have been addressed to, prevent an injury or exposure to our members.

The 16 hours of the Incident Investigation class was facilitated by USW Local Union 213 members Frank Helebrant and Russ Lardinois, along with TMC Program Administrator John Scardella. The members in attendance worked on “logic tree diagramming” to identify the root causes of an incident. All too often workers are disciplined without the root causes being identified and eliminated or mitigated.
A class on Near-Miss Investigation was facilitated by Local Union 482 member Steve Godin, and Local Union 213 member Dennis Delie. How many near-misses go unreported or become an accepted practice that eventually leads to injury or exposure? This course helps bring this question to the surface.

A third class developed in the USW‘s Triangle of Prevention (TOP) program titled “Mapping the History of an Incident,” allowed members to look at the “indicators” that if addressed could have prevented the injury from occurring. Delie, Lardinois and TMC Program Coordinator Steve Doherty facilitated this class. Examples include but are not limited to a near-miss (reported or unreported), a work order that was never completed, previous reports of strains or first aid, leaks and exposures, upset conditions, and many other factors eventually leading to injury or illness to our members. Reinforcing the importance of the role of a strong local union safety committee in the success of the labor-management committee at each site was also discussed.

“The District 2 safety days are important for local [union] leaders to strengthen their local safety efforts, be a stronger voice in their facility’s labor-management committee, and develop more meaningful worker participation within their membership to bring the concerns off the shop floor so the hazards can be fixed,” Doherty said.

Training reported in this publication is supported by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under award number U45ES006175. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIEHS, NIH.

Posted In: Health and Safety, Mazzocchi, USW

More information, contact: Jim Frederick at 412-562-2581,

PITTSBURGH – The Steelworkers Charitable and Educational Organization (SCEO) announced today the launch of a major three-year training initiative to teach at-risk workers how to protect themselves, their coworkers and the public from exposure to dangerous infectious diseases like Ebola, the Zika virus and others.

SCEO is among eight recipients nationwide of grants announced this week by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) for Ebola Biosafety and Infectious Disease Response Training.

The training program will be conducted by SCEO’s Tony Mazzocchi Center for Health, Safety and Environmental Education (TMC), a partnership of the United Steelworkers (USW), Communications Workers of America (CWA), Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA), Labor Institute (LI), Make the Road New York (MRNY) and National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON).

The NIEHS Worker Training Program (WTP) Ebola Biosafety and Infectious Disease Response Training (UH4) award is provided to grantees to develop and implement occupational safety and health and infection control training programs to at-risk workers in healthcare and non-healthcare industries.

“A few years ago, very few of us had heard of diseases like Ebola or Zika,” said Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., NIEHS director. “We need to ensure that we have a workforce ready to contain these and the next infectious disease threats. This new training program will help workers, who do so much to protect others, stay safe when working with patients or people in high risk situations.”

Under the new training initiative, TMC will remain working with unions and worker centers to serve as a front-line defense controlling infectious disease outbreaks by strengthening the partnership, advancing training of experienced worker-trainers on awareness and operations levels, and expanding the amount of trainers locally and regionally. The partnership will also continue working to develop cadres of bilingual trainers to reach Spanish-speaking workers within immigrant communities. These trainers and trainees will undergo yearly evaluations and refresher training courses to maintain and progress knowledge.

“The United Steelworkers union includes manufacturing workers – but we have grown to also include members in healthcare and other sectors where workers are increasingly at risk of exposure to a growing number of infectious diseases,” USW Health, Safety and Environment Assistant Director Jim Frederick said. “And our Tony Mazzocchi Center partners represent community health workers, flight attendants and others who face a similar risk.”

“Thanks to this strategic support from NIEHS, our Tony Mazzocchi Center partnership can develop and conduct educational programs that have the potential to save lives,” Frederick said. “Our goal will be to arm workers with the information they need to prevent exposures to serious, and in some cases, life-threatening infectious diseases.”

Within the USW the partnership has access to train over 49,000 high-risk workers in the healthcare sector. These workers are in hospitals, long-term care, blood collection, ambulances, home healthcare, clinics and other related facilities across the United States.

In the CWA, the TMC is able to reach 16,000 healthcare workers at hospitals, urgent care facilities and in long-term care primarily in New York and California. The CWA also represents over 107,000 other members who face the threat of exposure to pathogens such as workers at correctional facilities, social services, airline passenger agents and baggage handlers, and telecommunications workers who service infectious disease facilities.

The AFA-CWA, an affiliate union, represents 40,000 flight attendants who are also at risk of exposure to infectious diseases like the Ebola virus.

MRNY is a non-profit participatory service and advocacy organization for immigrants in New York comprised of 16,000 members. The organization’s Community Health Workers Training Program is adding Ebola and infectious disease training to CHW curriculum, encouraging hazard reduction in the workplace and spreading awareness throughout communities. NDLON is a network of 45 worker centers with training reaching immigrant workers and communities specifically within three grassroots centers: Wind of the Spirit, Workers Justice Project and New Labor.

On behalf of the TMC, the Ebola Biosafety and Infectious Disease Response Training Program will ensure that exposed union and immigrant workers are attaining proper awareness and learn how to protect themselves against Ebola and other infectious diseases in the workforce and their communities.

The Tony Mazzocchi Center for Health, Safety and Environmental Education is a project of the United Steelworkers (USW), Communications Workers of America (CWA), Labor Institute, Make the Road New York (MRNY) and National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON). TMC training programs reach more than 20,000 workers from more than 20 industry sectors across the nation annually. Funding is in support by awards through the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences of the National Institutes of Health (NIEHS, NIH).


Posted In: Mazzocchi, USW
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