Posted in 'USW'

Staff members in the photos include USW National Director for Canada Ken Neuman, District 3 Director Steve Hunt, District 5 Director Alain Croteau and retired National Director for Canada Lawrence McBrearty. Also pictured are health and safety staff Nancy Hutchison, Al Hedd and Gerry LeBlanc, along with D6 H&S Coordinator Sylvia Boyce, D3 H&S Coordinator Brian Harder and retired staff Andy King.

Many other USW staff and local union representatives from across Canada, and retirees that had been involved with the Westray tragedy for 25 years, were also in attendance.

Westray 25th Anniversary Commemoration

Photos are credited to Jim Frederick and Peter Boyle.

Posted In: USW

Celeste Monforton, DrPH, MPH of Milken School of Public Health at George Washington University, The Pump Handle

Chronic beryllium disease is a horrible illness, as is lung cancer. Both diseases are the rationale for a new health standard issued by OSHA on January 9.

The rule is designed to protect the health of an estimated 60,000 workers in the U.S. who are exposed to the light-weight, super-strong metal: beryllium. This includes about 10,000 workers involved in electric-power generation; 9,000 workers in dental laboratories and dental offices; 8,400 in specialty construction trades; 5,600 in motor vehicle parts manufacturing; and 3,000 in the maritime industry who are welders and abrasive blasters. ... more

Posted In: Health and Safety, OSHA, USW

CONTACT Mike Wright: 412-562-2580, mwright@usw.org

(Pittsburgh) – The United Steelworkers (USW) today praised the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for the release of the final rule for occupational exposure to beryllium and beryllium compounds in general industry, construction and maritime.

“This has been a long time in the making,” said USW International President Leo W. Gerard. “The USW has advocated for an OSHA rule since the early 1970s. This rule will protect workers who are exposed to beryllium in general industry, construction and shipyards and ensure that controls are put in place to prevent future occupational illness from developing.”

The USW represents several thousand workers who use beryllium alloys and beryllium-containing products in a number of industries.

The first occupational exposure limit to beryllium was set in 1949. OSHA first proposed a standard in 1975, but political pressure forced cancellation of the rulemaking. In 2012, a collaborative effort between Materion Brush, the world’s largest beryllium producer, and the USW resulted in a draft standard that the union and company jointly presented to OSHA.

“Although the process took decades, the result is a strong, protective worker health rule,” said Michael Wright, USW Director of Health, Safety and Environment. Wright’s first assignment with the union was to participate in the original rulemaking attempt. Even with the long lag, the USW never lost sight of the need for a new standard.

Under the new rule, permissible exposure limits are significantly reduced. The rule also includes provisions that require employers to assess exposure, implement methods for controlling exposure, provide protective clothing and equipment, perform medical surveillance, and continue the wages and benefits of workers who become sensitized to beryllium.

The final rule is effective 60 days after the publication of the proposal in the Federal Registrar.

The USW continues to fight for occupational safety and health regulations that affect workers’ lives and to promote recognition of occupational hazards.

The USW represents 850,000 workers in North America employed in many industries that include metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining and the service and public sectors. For more information: http://www.usw.org/.

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View the USW Media Release here.

Posted In: Health and Safety, 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

Joseph S. Pete, The Times

U.S. Steel agreed not to discipline steelworkers who report injuries later because they didn’t initially know they were injured.

The U.S. Department of Labor reached an agreement in a federal court case with the Pittsburgh-based steelmaker last week. U.S. Steel, which has mills in Gary, Portage and East Chicago, has updated its company-wide injury reporting policy so that steelworkers can report accidents after they become aware of their injuries. ... more

Posted In: Health and Safety, USW

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, jfrederick@usw.org

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).

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Posted In: Mazzocchi, USW

United Steelworkers (USW) Health, Safety and Environment Director Mike Wright shares how the declining number of American unions prove to be a threat to public health in an AJPH Editorial for the American Public Health Association (APHA). Read “The Decline of American Unions Is a Threat to Public Health” here.

Posted In: Health and Safety, Mazzocchi, USW

USW District 9 regional health and safety trainingA series of health and safety training sessions were conducted throughout USW District 9 in the spring, providing local union members the opportunity to participate and connect with one another.

The classes were facilitated by Tony Mazzocchi Center worker-trainers within the district, who are mentored by veteran trainers Calvin Bozeman, Billy Edington and Karen Drewery. District 9 staff were also in attendance to most of these classes.

Worker-trainers taught condensed versions of the TMC’s hazard mapping course as well as the near-miss and incident investigation course. Prior to discussing training opportunities for the facility, district staff and trainers participated in a health and safety site assessment at Resolute Forest Products and met with the local union and company to assess their needs.

“I think the District 9 regional health and safety training has been well received by the locals. It has given the USW an opportunity to show the locals parts of some of the USWTMC curriculum available to them,” Edington said. “In addition, it has also provided members with an opportunity to voice their concerns with their staff reps and Wesley Thompson [District 9 health and safety coordinator], within their workplaces which I think is a great morale builder.” Edington is also a member of USW Local Union 9-288.

The series of regional health and safety training concluded on April 19 and consisted of nine sessions with a total of 188 local union members participating.

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

Duronda Pope, U.S. Department of Labor Blog

April 28 is Workers’ Memorial Day, a day set aside to mourn the dead and fight for the living.

But that’s every day for me.

For 10 years, my job with the United Steelworkers has been to jump in to help when a member of the union has been killed or permanently injured on the job. I’ve been there for hundreds of families at the lowest times in their lives, when they have to imagine going on without their wife or husband, parent or child. ... more

Duronda Pope serves as the Emergency Response Team (ERT) Coordinator for the United Steelworkers (USW).

Posted In: Health and Safety, OSHA, USW
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