249709 Worker Cleaning Initiative: A model for worker inclusion in safe chemical policy campaigns

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Gail Bateson, MS , Worksafe, Oakland, CA
While many organizations seek to broaden their coalitions to include the voices of workers and occupational health professionals, a California-based environmental coalition took it a step further to ensure its success. CHANGE, Californians for a Health and Green Economy, allocated staff and related resources to develop a “workers cleaning initiative” as a way to integrate a workers' perspective into negotiations on how to implement the state's Green Chemistry Initiative and related legislative and regulatory efforts. The emerging project, led by CHANGE member Worksafe, has focused on people cleaning products on the job as a unifying theme to bring together over a dozen low-wage and immigrant worker organizations representing janitors and custodians, hotel room cleaners, car wash workers, household cleaners, nail salon workers, and others in Los Angeles and the Bay Area. The project connects these union and worker groups with OSH experts to learn the latest in safer alternatives. It also educates and prepares them to be advocates for safer or “green” chemical policies, thereby broadening and strengthening the CHANGE coalition. Lessons learned from this ongoing project will be shared.

Learning Areas:
Chronic disease management and prevention
Environmental health sciences
Occupational health and safety
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines

Learning Objectives:
1. Explain the importance of including the working population in prevention-based safe chemical policies 2. List several occupations and industries using toxic cleaning products that post health hazards to employees. 3. Name at least two current state or federal initiatives to identify and prioritize removal of toxic chemicals.

Keywords: Cancer Prevention, Environmental Health Hazards

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I conceived of and developed this project in my capacity as Executive Director of Worksafe, a statewide OSH advocacy organization
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.