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National Conference to Prevent Hearing Loss in Construction:

P R O C E E D I N G S

Address: Preventing Hearing Loss in the Construction Trades: A Best Practices Conference

JOSPEH C. FOWLER, JR.
Executive Director, LHSFNA

Alternate description

MR. FOWLER, Director of the Laborers' Health and Safety Fund of North America: It is my pleasure to welcome you to Preventing Hearing Loss in Construction: A Best Practices Conference.

Today's conference is being sponsored by our Fund and is co-sponsored by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Before we get started, there are a few people I would like to recognize. First, there are some representatives of our co-sponsors with us today Max Lum, the NIOSH director of Health Communications.

Max, are you here? He is right over here. Thank you for being with us.

Later this morning, we will be joined by Charles Jeffress, the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, and we are delighted to have him.

I would also like to introduce some people from the Laborers: the Assistant Director for the Laborers' Health and Safety Fund of North America, Lisa Sabitoni; and the Fund's director of Occupational Safety and Health Division, Scott Schneider.

I would also like to recognize one of the strongest supporters of our Fund's programs, our management co-chairman, Mr. George Miller, who is sitting right over here -- George, thank you for being with us -- and our Fund administrator who has also been a very great supporter of this, Rocco Davis, sitting right down here in the first row.

Thank you all. Can we give them a round of applause please?

[Applause.]

MR. FOWLER: We are here today to pursue a common goal, determining how best to protect hearing on construction work sites.

Hearing loss drives experienced workers into retirement prematurely increases long-term health care costs, and hurts laborers by dimming or extinguishing the ability to hear.

Just last week while I was presenting a workshop out in Missouri, I had 25 attendees there and I just asked them how many of them had actually suffered a significant hearing loss due to job noise.

Much to my surprise, every hand in the audience went up. This was just another indication that the problem of hearing loss is a serious one for industry.

Over the next 2 days, we will discuss success stories, hear from distinguished experts, and learn about what OSHA and NIOSH are doing in this area. We will come together as employers, as Government as workers, and as experts to discuss joint solutions to a common problem.

We are here together today because of a valuable lesson we learned long ago in the Laborers Union. Far more is accomplished when we work together than when we work alone. Whether we are trying to reduce hearing loss or working to improve overall health and safety, none of us can do it alone.

Government can pass important regulations, but without the support and input of industry, enforcement would be costly and cumbersome and probably impossible. Labor can train the safest workers around, but they can still be killed at unsafe work sites.

Management can make work sites as safe as possible, but still have disasters if workers fail to respect the dangers around them, and whether we are working on health and safety, pursuing projects and jobs, or developing a skilled work force, working as a team is always more productive than working alone.

We here in this room have come to realize that collaboration is more than just a good idea. It is the way we get things done. It is the best way to save lives. Throughout the United States and Canada, the Laborers' Health and Safety Fund of North America is using cooperation and collaboration to improve safety and save lives wherever laborers and their contractors work.

We are proud to sponsor this conference, and we look forward to working together on this vital issue over the next 2 days.

Now it is my pleasure and my honor to introduce our keynote speaker. Over the past 10 years, in many different ways, the Laborers' International Union of North America has made history, defining new solutions to old problems and innovative responses to new challenges, and our keynote speaker has been a vital part of this important work. A strong believer in labor-management cooperation, he served for many years as the administrator of our Health & Safety Fund and of the Laborers-Employers Cooperation in Education Trust, the marketing arm of the Laborers. He worked as a laborer himself on construction sites. He ran a training fund. He led our Construction Department, and he served as Assistant to the General President, as the Mid-Atlantic Regional Manager, and as LIUNA Vice President. In all of these posts, he gained a real understanding of all aspects of our Union and our industry, and he never lost sight of our ultimate goal, making the lives of Laborers and their families the best that they can possibly be.

Please welcome an innovative leader, a compassionate Laborer, and a strong voice for worker safety, LIUNA General President Terence M. O'Sullivan.

Mr. General President.

[Applause.]

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