Union Health and Safety Skills
Unions and community organizations can integrate safety into every aspect of their work. LOHP offers a variety of publications and services that can help.
Tools of the Trade is a valuable resource for those who want to promote worker health and safety while building their unions and community groups at the same time.
The book contains practical suggestions for forming a worker health and safety committee in a union or non-union environment; training workers; using risk mapping, surveys, and workplace inspections to find hazards; using questionnaires and body mapping to identify worker health problems; requesting safety information from the employer under “right to know” regulations; filing OSHA complaints; negotiating safety in union contracts; and gaining community support for workplace health and safety campaigns. None of the tools require “experts” in health and safety; all can be learned and used by workers, union representatives, and other activists.
Collective Bargaining for Health and Safety— A Handbook for Unions is a valuable tool for members of bargaining committees and other union representatives who negotiate over health and safety issues.
The heart of the book is an extensive collection of more than 200 sample contract clauses negotiated by unions throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Topics range from rights and responsibilities of labor and management to specific workplace hazards such as heavy lifting, chemicals, noise, ergonomics, indoor air quality, infectious diseases, workplace violence, and new technology.
LOHP can provide training on specific topics to unions and labor-management groups on request. Training topics have ranged from hazard identification and control to ergonomics, from building effective health and safety committees to workers’ rights.
Examples of current projects include:
- Working with a joint labor-management partnership at Kaiser hospitals to develop a training program for worksite health and safety teams
- Helping the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the California Nurses Association (CNA), and the University Professional and Technical Employees (UPTE/CWA) to provide training on health and safety committees
- Working with the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California (SBCTC) to design and conduct a “training of trainers” program for construction workers.
LOHP also works with unions to conduct joint research projects. Research is participatory and involves rank-and-file workers in every aspect of the project.
Recently we worked with Hotel Employees/ Restaurant Employees (HERE) Local 2 in San Francisco to study issues of workload, health, and quality of life for hotel room cleaners. We helped conduct a similar study in Las Vegas. These projects led to significant contract improvements.
LOHP has also worked with Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 616 and NIOSH to study musculoskeletal injuries among homecare workers and to identify risk factors and practical solutions.