June 15, 2015

Tony Mazzocchi Center partnership awarded grant for Ebola and infectious disease training

By Nikki Pollo

On May 1, the United Steelworkers Tony Mazzocchi Center and their affiliates were granted an award for Ebola Biosafety and Infectious Disease Response Training by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS, NIH). The award will span over the course of three months, ending on July 31, 2015.

Along with the USWTMC, the partnership includes the Communications Workers of America (CWA), Labor Institute, Make the Road New York (MRNY) and National Day Laborers Organizing Network (NDLON).
training
Utilizing this award the partnership will build a cadre of health and safety professionals, both English and Spanish speaking, who will assist with instructing selected worker-trainers throughout numerous industries who will then share their knowledge in perspective fields. These trainers will demonstrate curriculum on Ebola awareness, as well as other infectious disease and bloodborne pathogens.

Most all health and safety professionals within the partnership are already certified in hazardous waste operations and emergency response training. As a result of their current certifications and newly practiced disease awareness training, these experienced trainers will be available in times of crisis and epidemic to assist in responding to emergencies.

Labor Institute Director Les Leopold explains that the Ebola infectious disease supplement allows the group to transfer their hazardous waste training skills to the area of infectious diseases.

“Many USW-represented workers will be asked to work in and around people who may carry highly contagious diseases,” Leopold said. “These workers need and deserve training.”

The TMC partnership represents 60,000 healthcare workers, 50,000 airline flight attendants, airline airport agents, and thousands of immigrant workers employed as community healthcare workers, airline cleaners, baggage handlers, and other cleaners in and around hospitals designated as Ebola treatment care centers, among multiple other industries. The workers represented above are the most at risk of being exposed to Ebola and other infectious diseases.

“This pilot program allows us to begin training a wide range of workers at medical facilities, community health workers, airport cleaners and airline personnel,” Leopold said. “Our pilot grant allows us to train trainers who will conduct four-hour awareness level programs on Ebola and other infectious diseases.”

The material developed for this training was created and piloted in the field by health and safety expert Bernard Mizula (MS, CIH, CET, CHS-V, RPIH), who is contracted to work with the TMC on this and many other projects concerning his expertise. The first implementation of this curriculum was presented during classes facilitated by Mizula at the 2015 USW Health, Safety and Environment Conference.

The partnership is currently preparing these professionals and working on the training of at-risk workers. An opportunity targeting healthcare workers who are members of UPTE-CWA Local Union 9119 is scheduled for July 18, 2015 in Berkeley, Calif.

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

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