233991 Union Effect on Work Environments: Safer Work for Everyone

Tuesday, November 9, 2010 : 3:10 PM - 3:30 PM

Darryl Alexander , Health and Safety, American Federation of Teachers, Washington, DC
Work-related injuries and illnesses can take a tremendous toll on the health and well-being of workers. Several insidious and chronic exposures are never recognized and acknowledged by employers. Workers are often forced to leave work involuntarily because of crippling disabilities associated with exposure. Without union diligence and pressure, even basic OSHA rights such as the right to know the chemical content of and associated health effects of exposure to products are ignored by empolyers. Unions have a history of developing the framework for OSHA standards that have led to astonishing reductions in occupational illness and disability. One notable example is the blood-borne pathogen standard. Before this standard was put into place, healthcare workers sustained over 12,000 cases of work-related hepatitis B (HBV) every year. Currently, the annual number of work-related cases is approaching zero.

This and other examples of how unions have successfully addressed one important social determinant of health - work will be discussed.

Learning Areas:
Occupational health and safety
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines

Learning Objectives:
At the end of this session, attendees will be able to: 1) Discuss the ways in which union developed frameworks have influenced OSHA standards; 2) Analyze the role that unions played in developing the blood-borne pathogen standard and its effect on decreasing Hepatitis B infections among health care workers.

Keywords: Health Promotion, Health Care Workers

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: s the Director for the American Federation of Teachers' Health and Safety Program, I work at the federal level on the regulatory and legislative fronts to modernize workplace health and safety laws and regulations on behalf of AFT's 1.5 million members.
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.