Collaboration is essential when establishing green industry standards. That’s the message from David Michaels, the nation’s newly appointed, top occupational safety and health official.

Michaels, head of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), says an OSHA alliance with the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is a must for sound worksite safety and health. He shared his thoughts during a speech – his first as OSHA chief – at the NIOSH-sponsored Going Green: Safe and Healthy Jobs conference in December.

Michaels introduced five “Green Reform Principles” that he said assure creation of an industry that is truly green, one that is safe both for the environment and for those who work in it. His principles are:

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LIUNA General President Terry O’Sullivan

  1. A Comprehensive Workplace Safety and Health Program that features management    leadership and worker participation
  2. A Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals that contributes to better information about exposure risks
  3. Prevention through Design (PtD) that builds in protection from the ground up, eliminating the need for expensive retrofitting later
  4. Creating industry standards with input from scientists, other experts and from the workers
  5. Enhancing workers’ voices through education about industry hazards and what workers can do to protect themselves

“These are sound principles not only for the green industry, but all industry,’ says Walter Jones, the LHSFNA’s Associate Director of Occupational Safety and Health, who served on the conference’s planning committee.

Affirming the thrust of Michaels’ principles, LIUNA General President Terence M. O’Sullivan elaborated on the need for across-the-board implementation.

“Last year, work-related accidents led to more than five thousand deaths and more than three million injuries and illnesses,” O’Sullivan said. “This is proof that forty years after passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, worker safety and health remains an afterthought at many projects, green or otherwise. Implementation of Michaels’ green reform principles would go a long way toward improving these statistics.”

[Janet Lubman Rathner]