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Published: May, 2020; Vol 16, Num 12

 

Message from the Co-Chairmen:

Looking for a Path Forward in Uncertain Times

When it comes to safety and health, there’s often a tendency to want absolutes. Workers are either performing a task safely or they aren’t; a chemical exposure causes cancer or it doesn’t. At the Laborers’ Health & Safety Fund of North America (LHSFNA), we know that certainty isn’t always that easy. Safety and health professionals see jobsites and behaviors along a spectrum that includes varying shades of risk, where the perfect world and real-world conditions rarely intersect. That’s why you’ll often read about “reducing risk” in the pages of Lifelines – because even though safety and health practices are proven to work, certainty isn’t guaranteed.

This is an important message to remember as we continue to face an ongoing pandemic with no clear end date. Whether it’s over the masks we wear, testing for the virus or whether a state should reopen certain businesses, uncertainty will likely continue to be front and center in our lives over the coming months. When certainty is lacking, we must make decisions with an eye on reducing risk as much as possible, and adjust that course when new facts emerge. As we all move forward together, let’s embrace every opportunity in our daily lives to reduce risk from this deadly virus, both on the job and away from it. This month’s issue of Lifelines is filled with articles to help LIUNA District Councils, Local Unions, members and signatory contractors make sound, informed decisions to protect the health of LIUNA members, their families and those they come in contact with.

On April 28th, as we do every year, we commemorated Workers’ Memorial Day in the U.S. and the National Day of Mourning in Canada as a day to honor all the workers who have been killed, injured or sickened on the job. This year, as we find ourselves in the midst of a pandemic that has taken the lives of more than 60,000 people across North America, including a large number of healthcare workers, first responders and other frontline workers, this day took on even more special significance. This annual day of remembrance is a reminder of why the Laborers’ International Union of North America continues to fight for necessary health and safety protections on every jobsite and in every workplace. The continued well-being of our essential, frontline workers has never been more important, and should never be taken for granted. It’s concern for these workers – and concern for all LIUNA members and their families – that’s driving LIUNA to call on Congress to go beyond the aid offered by the CARES Act and pass a comprehensive stimulus package that does more to address the health needs and the economic needs of working families.

Though uncertainty seems to be everywhere, we can chart a path forward by beginning with the fundamental principle that the health and safety of all workers is essential. That means doing everything in our power to put the well-being of LIUNA members, their families and their communities first and foremost. The LHSFNA will continue to provide the resources, guidance and expertise that will help LIUNA District Councils, Local Unions, health and welfare funds, members and signatory contractors achieve that goal.