June 01, 2016

Tony Mazzocchi Center Receives NIEHS Award to Conduct Ebola Biosafety and Infectious Disease Response Training

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

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