203295 Chemical Security: Protecting Workers from a Witch Hunt

Monday, November 9, 2009: 1:06 PM

John S. Morawetz , Center for Worker Health & Safety Education, International Chemical Workers Union (ICWUC), Cincinnati, OH
A potentially troublesome requirement of the current Chemical Facility Anti Terrorism Standards (CFATS) temporary regulations is unrestricted background checks of site workers. CFATS states that any facility directed by DHS to submit a Site Security Plan “shall identify critical assets and restricted areas and establish which employees and contractors may need unescorted access to these areas or assets, and thus must undergo a background check'. Further “a list of the employees requiring a background check shall be detailed in the Site Security plan”.

The current temporary regs give very little, if any, protection for potential abuses that could lead to workers losing their livelihood. The current labor environmental alliance has worked together for the last 7 years to pass effective and complete legislation including protection for workers from unlimited scrutiny for any past trouble. For background checks we started with protections in the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002 and the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007 (public transportation and railway) and then added additional language. This was then incorporated into HR 5577 that passed the House Homeland Security Committee in 2008 but did not get to the House floor.

Key provisions are: limits on which crimes can be considered, time limits to avoid examining convictions over 7 years old, appeals and waiver procedures, release to workers of a non-confidential summery of confidential security information, limits on who has access to a worker's personal information, and retention of wages and benefits until any appeals are exhausted.

Learning Objectives:
Identify flaws in protection against misure of background checks in current chemical security regulations. Explain limits on background checks necessary to protect workers from misuse of information

Keywords: Managing Risks, Privacy

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I direct a worker health and safety training center.
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.