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Published: May, 2017; Vol 13, Num 12

 

Message from the Co-Chairmen:

Site Safety and Health Care News in the Spotlight

While a lack of bipartisanship has slowed progress on Capitol Hill, the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) continues to show how much can be achieved when groups such as labor and management work together. This partnership is on display everywhere LIUNA members go to work, including the recently completed Blue Plains Tunnel project. A key piece of the District of Columbia’s compliance with the Clean Water Act, this $319 million endeavor was completed without a single lost-time accident and named a project of the year by the Engineering News-Record. Results like this prove that making worker safety and health a priority goes hand in hand with success in the construction industry.

The Blue Plains Tunnel and other projects like it are helping to rebuild our outdated and crumbling infrastructure, but there is much more work to be done. LIUNA is urging Congress to pass the Investing in America: A Penny for Progress Act. The bill would direct $500 billion in federal funding to the Highway Trust Fund and create good road and bridge building jobs across the U.S. At the same time, North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) are pushing for approval on major private infrastructure projects that could be completed without federal funding. Both of these initiatives have the potential to put LIUNA members to work for years to come.

The last few months have also been full of health care-related news. With the withdrawal of the American Health Care Act, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is likely here to stay for the time being. Despite the lack of current support for repeal, the ACA is still being weakened in a number of ways; this issue is covered in more detail in this month’s article “What’s Next for Health Care Reform?” On a positive note, there is still time to repeal the “Cadillac” tax before it goes into effect in 2020 and begins taking a toll on LIUNA members, their families and the health and welfare funds that cover them.

In addition to monitoring these larger issues, the Laborers’ Health & Safety Fund of North America (LHSFNA) continues to focus on the health and safety-related issues that affect LIUNA members on and off the job. The Fund’s annual Sun Sense Plus campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of sun and heat exposure is now in full swing. LIUNA District Councils, Local Unions, training centers, signatory contractors and other affiliates can order Sun Sense Plus educational materials and products for distribution to LIUNA members free of charge through the Fund’s new online ordering process.

This month’s issue also focuses on the importance of fall prevention. Year after year, falls continue to be the leading cause of fatalities in the construction industry. The annual National Safety Stand-Down to prevent falls in construction aims to change that by taking time out of the work day to educate all employees about falls. The Fund encourages all employers to review their safety policies and procedures, including how to report and correct fall hazards and how to use fall prevention equipment properly.

The LHSFNA recognizes the importance of keeping LIUNA District Councils, Local Unions, health and welfare funds and signatory contractors up to date on the health and safety topics that affect LIUNA members and their families every day. If your company or organization needs additional guidance on any issues related to the health and safety of LIUNA members, remember that the LHSFNA is here to help.