196577 What They Don't Know Might Kill Them: Why New Members Need To Know About Hazardous Materials and How This Information Might Save Their Lives

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Steve Mitchell, BA , c/o National Labor College, National Labor College, United Automobile Workers, Silver Spring, MD
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Hazardous Communication Standard (HCS) 29 CFR 1910.1200 requires that information regarding hazards related to chemicals and substances used by workers be shared with employees. The knowledge of hazardous materials would allow workers to protect themselves from harmful materials that could affect their health. The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that new employees of a large manufacturing company in the Midwest were largely unaware of their legal rights as they apply to hazardous materials information, their exposures to hazardous materials, and employee rights to chemical and exposure information. The subjects were 38 new employees and members a United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) Local 974. The anonymous subjects were queried using a paper and pencil questionnaire completed at two different new employee orientations conducted at the union hall on a single day. All of the participants understood the importance of knowing the signs and symptoms of exposure to the hazardous materials they worked with. However, 60% did not know what a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) was and 75% did not know how to use the computer to access MSDS information. The results of the study suggest that the current method of teaching new employees about hazardous exposures is inadequate.

Learning Objectives:
Describe the research work of students at the National Labor College in the field of occupational safety and health Assess ways that activist research can improve the safety and health of workers Discuss strategies for combining academic research and activist work in occupational safety and health

Keywords: Occupational Health, Training

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a Local Union Discussion Leader and Peer Trainer for the UAW
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.