The New England Consortium's
E-Quarterly            Vol. 1 No. 1 June 2009
A Newsletter about Working with Toxic Materials, Health and Safety Training, Law and Public Policy Working with Toxic Materials, Health and Safety Training, Law and Public Policy
In This Issue
Environmental Unions by Craig Slatin
Training Matters
Governor Patrick Issues Executive Order for Public Employees
OSHA Clarifies HAZWOPER Training Rule
Living on Earth
Featured Article
Dr. Craig Slatin Interview
New Book "Environmental Unions" by Craig Slatin Released



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Connecticut Council
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Massachusetts Coalition
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New Hampshire Coalition
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Rhode Island Committee
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Western Mass Coalition
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Welcome
The New England Consortium (TNEC) has been finding ways both small and large to lessen our impact on the earth. Therefore, we have decided to discontinue sending out our paper newsletter titled the Quarterly, instead you will receive the newsletter via email. 
We hope you enjoy our revised edition of our E-Quarterly.  We will continue to keep you informed about  health and safety training efforts in the New England region.
If you choose not to receive our information four times a year you have the option of opting out.  Just go to the end of the newsletter and click on the appropriate link.
Enjoy the new format and we hope to keep you safe and healthy on your job.
 
 
New Book "Environmental Unions" by Craig Slatin Released 
Dr. Craig Slatin Interview Environmental Unions: Labor and the Superfund, by Craig Slatin was just released.  Published by Baywood Publishing as part of its Work, Health and Environment Series, the book provides a historical analysis of the U.S. Superfund Worker Training Program, a twenty-two year national worker health education intervention funded through and coordinated by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS).
 
The book explores how organized labor came to establish a highly successful health and safety training program for workers engaged in hazardous waste operations and emergency response to hazardous materials incidents. 
 
Slatin provides a history of labor's success on the coattails of the environmental movement and in the middle of a rightward shift in American politics. Case studies present the health and safety training programs of two labor unions in the national health and safety training grant program "Worker Education and Training Program" - the Oil, Chemical, and Atomic Workers and the Laborers' Union. Despite different histories and sectors, Slatin shows how the political economy of the work environment led to unexpected similarities between the programs.
 
Slatin's analysis calls for a critical survey of the social and political tasks facing those concerned about worker and community health and environmental protection in order to make a transition toward just and sustainable production.  It builds on UMass Lowell's longstanding experience as the directing base of The New England Consortium, one of the Worker Education and Training Program awardee organizations.  Based on empirical evidence, the book provides examples that can inform new efforts to create a green economy and make a transition toward sustainable development built on a foundation of public health.
 
To read more about the book or to order click on the link below:
 
Training Matters 
It was no 'Miracle on the Hudson' that saved all the lives this past January on US Airways jet in New York.  It was the fact that the pilots, flight crew, air traffic controllers, and the ferry pilots all had and continue to receive high-quality occupational health and safety training and that they are all members of a union. Their training saved lives.
 
Fast forward to April, crew members of the Maersk Alabama have retaken the ship from Somali pirates, it's important to note like all of the people involved in the safe landing of US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River, the crew members of the Maersk Alabama are union members.
 
Captain Sullenberger, the pilot who successfully landed a jet in the Hudson River, is a former safety chairman for the Airline Pilots Association and now represented by US Airline Pilots Association.  Sullenberger during his testimony before Congress talked about how he has fought to ensure pilots get the kind of safety training that assured their well-being. The unions who made sure the crew members of the Maersk Alabama were safe are the Seafarers International Union, (SIU) the Marine Engineers' Beneficial Association (MEBA) and the International Organization of Masters, Mates and Pilots (MM&P).  According to news reports the crew members who are affiliated with the SIU received anti-piracy training from their union at the union's Paul Hall Center for Maritime Training and Education.  In addition to small arms training, the Center offers anti-terror, basic safety, first aid, and other security-related courses.
 
Effective training strengthens organizational success, instills community confidence and improves productivity and profitability.  Effective training empowers employees and encourages their participation in shaping safe workplace practices to better protect themselves, their co-workers and the community at large.  In doing so, they contribute to the health and safety of their co-workers and the community at large around their place of employment.  Let us not forget the chemical explosion in Danvers, MA.  More and more businesses view training and other environmental, health and safety issues from a business strategy perspective rather than from the former pure cost of a compliance standpoint.
 
A minor incident can quickly grow out of control and become a public relations nightmare.  Training can reduce state costs by limiting injuries and saving lives, it reduces workers compensation claims and municipal insurance premiums, it minimizes potential regulatory agency fines and citations and reduces the possibility of lawsuits/litigation.
 
When we leave the house every day to head out to work it is vital that we make it home safe for our families and loved ones.
 
 
Governor Patrick commemorates Workers' Memorial Day with executive order extending Workplace Protections to State Employees
Governor Deval Patrick
 At a ceremony commemorating Massachusetts workers killed and injured on the job in 2008, Governor Deval Patrick announced a new executive order that could help prevent state employees from meeting a similar fate.  The executive order calls for the establishment of safety committees in all state agencies to document workplace hazards and safety measures needed.  Safety experts and unions have been calling for the state to establish safety protections for public employees for years, but prior to the Patrick administration had been rebuffed.
 
Unlike their counterparts in the private sector, public employees in the Commonwealth are not covered by safety requirements under the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA).  When OSHA was enacted in the 1970's, it gave states the option to extend safety protections to public employees.  Though twenty-seven states already apply these regulations to public employees, Massachusetts does not.
 
"State employees do jobs that are just as or more dangerous than those in the private sector," said Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health, "We applaud the Governor for taking this essential step toward instituting safety measures that will most certainly prevent more needless workplace injuries, illnesses and deaths."
 
State employees include highway workers exposed daily to lead dust, maintenance workers who work with heavy machinery, and electrical workers exposed to electrical hazards.  In fact, the call from unions and safety activists for health and safety protections for public employees escalated after the death of a Logan Airport electrician, Roger LeBlanc in 2004, whose electrocution may have been prevented had OSHA safety measures been implemented.
 
Each year, Commonwealth residents spend more than $50 million in workers' compensation costs for injuries and illnesses incurred by state employees alone.  According to data provided by New Hampshire's Department of Labor, after implementing OSHA protections to state employees in 1998, the state of New Hampshire reduced their workers comp claims by an average of 51% and between the years 2001 and 2004 they saved $3.3 million.
 
Today, professional state employees can feel gratified to know that the hard work they do and risks they take for all of us who live in Massachusetts is held in the high regard it deserves," said Joe Durant, President of the Massachusetts Organization of State Engineers and Scientists (MOSES). "Ensuring the protection of every worker's health and safety should be a basic and fundamental right."
 

OSHA Clarifies HAZWOPER Training Rule:  Video Alone Does Not Cut It 
On July 2, 2008, National Environmental Trainers Inc, of Martinez, GA., received a letter from OSHA's Enforcement Programs Directorate requesting that the company "correct the misleading and inaccurate information on your website" regarding an on-line, interactive 40-hour Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) training program.  The letter, signed by OSHA's Richard E. Fairfax, said in part, "If a customer of yours were to follow your counterstatements or use your 'HAZWOPER Hands-On Simulator®, 'as part of their training program, the customer would not be in compliance with our standard" (29 CFR 1910.120).  In a follow-up letter written February 4, 2009, and posted to the agency's web site April 7, OSHA removed that sentence and said it "no longer reflects current OSHA policy."
 
The emphasis of OSHA's follow-up letter of interpretation is that interactive and video training programs such as the company's HAZWOPER Hands-On Simulator are perfectly acceptable tools when used as part of an employer's overall HAZWOPER training program; they just can't be used as the total program because physical manipulation of actual components of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) (as opposed to virtual components of PPE) must be part of the training.
 
"An employer may not rely solely on the use of an interactive or video training program to be in compliance with the 40 or 24 hour HAZWOPER training requirements," Fairfax wrote in the follow-up letter. "As was stated in our July 2 letter, 'OSHA expects, as part of the 40-hour (or 24-hour) training requirement, that a trainee be able to don, doff, touch, feel and otherwise manipulate a particular piece of personal protective equipment that an employer of a specific site may require or provide to protect their employees to prevent injury or illness.'  Therefore, if the 'HAZWOPER Hands-on Simulator®' is used as part of an employer's overall 40 or 24-hour HAZWOPER training program, in addition to ensuring that the trainee don, doff, and otherwise manipulate the particular piece(s) of personal protective equipment being used at a specific site, its use would be acceptable."
 
NPR's 'Living on Earth' travels to The New England Consortium 
Living on Earth
 
Left to Right:
David Coffey, TNEC
Bruce Gellerman, Living on Earth and
Bob Burns, TNEC's MassCOSH
 
 
 
Federal funds destined to train workers for green jobs in the future are soon going to flow but the nation's education system is ill-equipped to teach the workforce skills that will be needed.  One program preparing workers for the green economy is Boston-based JFYNetworks.   Living on Earth's Bruce Gellerman was there as JFY participants trained at The New England Consortium (TNEC) training center at the University of Massachusetts Lowell for what's known as a 40-hour HAZWOPER certificate.
 
For over ten years TNEC has trained hundreds of JFY students in 40-Hour Hazardous Waste Site Personnel Basic Health and Safety Course, Confined Space and All Hazards Awareness courses.   
 
To listen to the program that aired on NPR May 22, 2009 click here:
 
The New England Consortium (TNEC) is the region's model Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) Worker Health and Safety training organization.  Since 1987, TNEC has provided dynamic hands-on, participatory health and safety training.
 
TNEC is one of 20 programs administered by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Worker Education Training Program.
 
TNEC is a partnership between the University of Massachusetts Lowell and the Coalitions/Committees for Occupational Safety and Health (COSH) in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island.
 
In addition to providing HAZWOPER training, COSH groups work on a variety of worker health and safety training and other issues.
 
To learn more, call your local COSH group:
ConnectiCOSH                        860.953.2674
MassCOSH                              617.825.7233
New Hampshire COSH             603.226.0516
RICOSH                                  401.751.2015
WesternMassCOSH                  413.731.0760
 
Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to read our newsletter.  We hope to keep you safe and healthy with information that will protect you on the job.
 
Sincerely,
 

Therese O'Donnell
UMass Lowell The New England Consortium
 
This work is supported under NIEHS Grant Number 2U45ES006172-17