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National COSH E-News October 2019

Big Win for Workers, Families at Chemical Safety Board

Responding to strong feedback from National COSH and safety advocates across the country, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) has reversed course and will once again name workers who have lost their lives when releasing investigative reports about chemical releases, explosions and fires.

“I remember my husband every day.  My sons remember their father every day,” said Holly Shaw-Hollis, a workplace safety activist and a member of the board of directors of both National COSH and the Philadelphia Project on Occupational Safety and Health (PhilaPOSH). Her husband Scott died after a fall from a commercial barge in Philadelphia in 2002. “No report about these terrible, preventable incidents is complete if it does not include the names of those we have lost. Naming those who have been killed reminds everyone that they are not just a number and a statistic, but a person with a family who loved them and will miss them.”

At its meeting in Washington DC in September, CSB Interim Executive Authority Kristen Kulinowski announced that board members had voted to include publication of names of the deceased in future investigative reports, unless there is an objection by immediate family members.

The CSB, an independent federal agency charged with investigating industrial chemical incidents, has included names of fatally injured workers in its reports since 2014. The agency changed its policy in June with the release of reports about fatal incidents in Oklahoma and Texas. Nine workers died in those two incidents, but none of them were named in the CSB documents.

During public comments at the CSB’s June 26 meeting, a number of speakers urged the agency to reconsider its policy.  No member of the public spoke in favor of continuing to exclude the names of deceased workers. With urging from National COSH and other safety advocates,workers, families, and members of the public also submitted a stream of public comments to the agency.

“It’s good to know that the CSB listened to workers, families, advocates and occupational safety and health experts,” said Peter Dooley, safety and health project consultant for National COSH. “Workers who lose their lives on the job must be remembered. The agency made the right call by deciding to include the names of deceased workers – and this should be the standard across all federal, state and local agencies.”


COSH Network Collaborates to Stop Pain, Combat Addiction 

When Ironworker Shawn Nehiley was prescribed the opioid OxyContin to treat pain for a work injury, the drug’s pull to addiction hit him like “a tornado that you feel you can’t get out of.” Nehiley is a business agent with Ironworkers Local 7 and a MassCOSH board member.  

Epidemic rates of opioid addiction and overdose are causing catastrophic harm to workers and their families. The COSH Network is building partnerships to put an end to worker pain, suffering addiction, and death.

MassCOSH has piloted a successful participatory research and action program, identifying factors that cause workers to become addicted. A powerful peer education program has reached 285 workers in its first year.

SoCalCOSH is launching a workers’ compensation clinic to help workers access treatment, alert them to the dangers of addictive pain medications and safer alternatives, as well as supporting prevention efforts.

National COSH is leading educational programs and convening groups across the country to address prevention of work factors that lead to opioid misuse, development of programs to support injured workers in avoiding opioid misuse, and improving access to treatment and recovery programs.   A new National COSH web page will provide critical resources, and efforts to address harm to workers due to the opioid crisis will be on the agenda at this year’s National Conference on Worker Safety and Health (COSHCON19).


Our Turn Mobilizing for Respect, Ending Harassment

A year after National COSH launched the Our Turn Sexual Harassment Action Network, unprecedented collaborations between workers, labor and nonprofit allies have bolstered efforts to end gender-based abuse on the job.   From championing New York’s new sexual harassment prevention law to building worker leadership and engagement in Philadelphia’s restaurant industry, COSH groups are championing partnerships to tackle sexual harassment across the country.

Fresh off a state legislative victory requiring all employers to provide sexual harassment prevention training, the New York COSH groups  -- NYCOSH, NENYCOSH, MidState COSHWorkers' Safety and Health Coalition of Central New York and WNYCOSH -- are already working overtime to ensure that the law is effective.  Before the new law took effect on October 9th, NY COSH groups have educated and engaged over 600 workers -- from race track workers to hotel housekeepers.

PhilaPOSH, a partner organization of the Coalition for Restaurant Safety & Health, is working to build prevention training and response to sexual harassment in Philadelphia’s restaurant industry.  PhilaPOSH launched a worker-led in-depth survey project and is collecting multiple testimonies of the current situation in our restaurants. Through train the trainer workshops, PhilaPOSH is building the capacity of worker leaders to facilitate and create the trainings in restaurants and at community organizations whose constituents are restaurant workers.

The upcoming COSHCON19 includes a special sexual harassment track led by a team of Our Turn Steering Committee members. In addition, new resources are frequently being added to the Our Turn resource clearinghouse, including new case studies of worker campaigns.


What's New at the Expo@COSHCON19

This year we are adding even more in-depth demos at the Expo@COSHCON19 on the second day of The National Conference on Worker Safety and Health. Exhibitors will be presenting equipment demos, community project presentations and the latest in occupational health and safety research. The second day is also a great time for networking with our nonprofit and academic exhibitors to find new ways to collaborate.

Held in the main conference hallway on the first 2 days of the conference, the Expo@COSHCON19 features exhibitor tables, research posters and safety equipment displays and demonstrations. Exhibitors include government agencies, students, universities, equipment manufacturers, nonprofits and unions.

Our focus on worker-centered solutions offers participants a unique opportunity. In addition to displays of the latest workplace safety equipment and materials, exhibits and posters at the Expo highlight current research projects and campaigns across the country that are aiming to understand – and prevent – workplace hazards.  

The popular passport contest with prizes for visiting multiple exhibitors will highlight the first day of the Expo and is a great way for participants to familiarize themselves with the exhibitors and have fun while making new contacts. Participants also choose their favorite posters for the poster contest.

The Expo@COSHCON19 is a fun and exciting part of the National Conference on Worker Safety and Health. Follow the links to learn more about exhibiting at the Expo@COSHCON19 or entering a poster. It’s a great place to make connections, learn new ideas, and see a demo of the latest workplace safety technology.


 Maritime Conference Center: A Proud Union Facility

Maritime Conference Center, site of the annual National Conference on Worker Safety and Health, is a great place for any gathering.  Just outside of Baltimore and right near Baltimore Washington International Airport, Maritime Conference Center has excellent meeting rooms with first-rate hotel, dining and recreation facilities right on site.

Maritime Conference Center is also a proud union facility and all employees are members of the International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots Union. A meeting place where workers have a voice is exactly the right location for COSHCON, where we gather to connect, inspire and take action to make our workplaces safer.

Maritime Conference Center is located on the campus of the Maritime Institute of Technology and Graduate Studies (MITAGS) and the International Longshoremen’s Association/U.S. Maritime Alliance, Ltd. Crane Training Center.  It is a socially responsible property and its revenues help to support the nonprofit mission of the MITAGS school.