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Published: Fall, 2002; Vol 4, Num 1

 

Labor, Business and Advocates Join Forces
To Promote Workplace Safety Agenda

“The potential of this coalition is that it can boost occupational safety and health onto the national agenda where it belongs,” says Scott Schneider, Occupational Safety and Health Director of the LHSFNA. “We’ve got key organizations in the room—labor, business, advocacy and government—and all of us know that our issue has not gotten the attention it deserves.”

Workplace Health and Safety Partnership Declaration

EACH YEAR our businesses and our society lose thousands of people, and tens of thousands of others become ill or injured, due to unsafe and unhealthy work conditions. The result is lost opportunity that cannot be measured in human or financial terms.

WE VALUE HUMAN LIFE AND HEALTH in our workplaces and we believe that workplace injuries and illnesses are preventable.

THE NEED EXISTS for cooperative, national leadership to promote awareness of these issues and to drive improvements in workplace safety and health.

WE THE UNDERSIGNED, REPRESENTING LABOR, BUSINESS, GOVERNMENT, ACADEMIC, NON-PROFIT AND PROFESSIONAL INSTITUTIONS, SPECIFICALLY COMMIT OUR ORGANIZATIONS TO:

CREATE a culture of health and safety in our workplaces through visible, active and collective leadership.

INCREASE public understanding of the human and economic impact of poor safety and health in our workplaces.

DEMAND the highest standards of professional practice and management leadership in health and safety from ourselves and from those with whom we choose to conduct business.

SET ambitious goals for illness and injury reduction and develop systems for measuring success against, and learning from, leading benchmark organizations.

PUBLICLY PROMOTE safety and health performance as important indicators of social responsibility.

American Association of Occupational Health Nurses
American Industrial Hygiene Association
Center for Business and Public Policy, Georgetown University
D.C. Employment Justice Center
DuPont
Electrical Safety Foundation International
Farmworker Justice Fund
Farm Safety 4 Just Kids
The FIGHT Project
Ford Motor Company
Laborers’ Health and Safety Fund of North America
Laborers’ International Union of North America
Network of Employers for Traffic Safety
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
UAW—Ford National Joint Committee on Health and Safety
United Farm Workers

If your organization would like to join the partnership, contact Dustin Weston (202-478-6126) for more information.

Though occupational safety and health takes as substantial a toll in lives and resources, it is not nearly so well known as a major national health concern as, for instance, heart disease, AIDS or smoking.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), about 6000 workers die on the job each year in the United States. The construction industry is among the most dangerous; despite employing only seven percent of the total workforce, construction produces about 20 percent of all fatalities. Lost-work time injuries also are a serious drag on the nation’s economy; in 2000, 2.8 million workers missed at least one day from work due to injury or illness.

“The long lineage of safety in the workplace is that it’s improving,” says John Mayo, the first director of Georgetown University’s new Center for Business and Public Policy at the McDonough School of Business. Yet, “we have 6000 people dying of workplace injuries each year. How do we create or motivate key leaders in business or politics to give safety and health its proper emphasis?”

The Center sponsored the first Georgetown Safety Summit in 2001 and held a second last spring. In their aftermath, it has organized four work groups that will develop specific recommendations for action by the larger coalition.

Schneider was asked to serve as chair of the work group that is drafting a “white paper” to identify the key issues in the field and delineate the important options and decisions facing the safety community. At the same time, an outreach group is assessing ways to bring these issues into the national limelight.

“Now, we need to make something happen.”

[Steve Clark]