Once a year, in conjunction with LIUNA’s Tri-Fund Conference, we publish a special issue of LIFELINES. We use this issue to highlight the LHSFNA’s work over the last year while continuing to publish important health and safety information for our readers.

When you appreciate the Tri-Funds, you understand a key component of the strategy that LIUNA has long employed to gain market share for signatory employers and job security for Laborers. Each of the Tri-Funds is focused on a different purpose, but each is guided jointly by a board composed of LIUNA and employer leaders. The Tri-Funds provide the means to advance important, common interests of the union and its signatory employers while also showcasing our cooperative, collaborative relationship for prospective signatories.

Here at the LHSFNA, we concentrate on everything related to the health and safety of Laborers and their families, on and off the job. Our Fund pursues an expansive agenda while also ensuring close collaboration with Laborers-AGC Education and Training Fund and the Laborers’-Employers Cooperation and Education Trust. Most broadly, our work is divided between our Health Promotion (HP) and Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Divisions.

As its name suggests, the HP Division promotes wellness, both for the good of LIUNA’s membership and their families and for the good of its health and welfare funds that provide for health care. Many of the Division’s programs are long-established and well-known: the annual Sun Sense campaign, LaboreRx, CISDs and drug-free workplaces. This year, the Division created a major new wellness program: Nutrition and Fitness for Laborers, designed to help members and their families accomplish lifestyle changes, lose weight and improve health.

Promoting wellness – and helping Laborers take more responsibility for their own health – is, perhaps, the single most important thing the Fund can do to fight the rising tide of health care costs. The reason is obvious: healthy Laborers require fewer health care services and keep the demand lower in the system as a whole. Yet, good health starts with personal accountability. As the Co-Chairs of this Fund, we urge everyone associated with LIUNA and its signatory employers to have an annual check-up, follow your doctor’s orders, eat well but in moderation and enjoy regular exercise. Take care of yourself and do your part to control unnecessary health care spending.

Our OSH Division pays attention to issues that affect Laborers and signatory employers on the job. In order to keep the playing field level for union employers, its staff often provides testimony to government agencies or advocates works for voluntary standards through the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). The Division’s safety programs and information on noise, respiratory hazards, scaffolds, silica, toxics, sprains and strains, work zones, falls, trenches and confined spaces are used by companies all across North America. Moreover, at the request of a signatory employer and/or a local union, the Division will come to a worksite to provide onsite safety consultation and recommendations for action. This year, the OSH Division tackled the difficult task of cracking the “it won’t happen to me” mentality of many young workers. It developed Laborers’ True Stories, a training DVD for apprentices in which four veteran Laborers tell personal stories about the injuries and illness that struck them and the lessons they learned from those experiences.

Laborers need safer workplaces, but so do their employers. Companies that consistently work safely have fewer lost work days, better morale, better employee retention, lower workers’ compensation rates, steadier quality, enhanced reputations and better access to ongoing contracts. Both sides benefit substantially by creating and maintaining the safest possible worksites.

Health and safety is truly a win-win proposition for Laborers and Management alike. This Fund is a powerful weapon in that common cause. In North American workplaces, in the realm of health and safety, our Fund stands out.

We hope all LIUNA local unions and all signatory employers are taking full advantage of our services. We can only help if you ask, so, please, give us a call.