Having a job is a necessity for almost everyone. For most of us, a job allows us to support ourselves and our loved ones. A job brings rewards and allows the enjoyment of life, family, and friends. To some, their job is a necessary evil that brings in money, but also thoughts of dread at its mere mention. For others, it is an obsession that dominates all aspects of their lives.
Whatever you think about your work, one thing it should not be is a place of danger, a place that causes pain, nor a place that will take your life and health away from you. Efforts to protect workers were hit-or-miss until the 1970s when formal efforts to make workplaces safer were put in place. At that time, it was estimated that more than 16,000 workers died each year in the U.S. Worker protections has resulted in a drop in the number on-the-job deaths to approximately 5,700 per year in both Canada and the U.S. That number is still too high, and hundreds of thousands of people are hurt or made ill because of their jobs. So we have to keep fighting. Every worker should be able to enjoy long and happy lives.
Over the next few months the IATSE and its locals will be highlighting and participating in several observances that everyone should know about to help raise safety awareness at work:
International Workers’ Memorial Day: April 28
April 28 is International Workers’ Memorial Day (Workers’ Memorial Day in the U.S./ National Day of Mourning in Canada). The essence of this day of mourning is best stated in a quote from Mother Jones, “Mourn for the dead, and fight like hell for the living.” The victims and their families who have been killed or harmed because of greed in the workplace, deserve our support and prayers.
On Friday, April 28 the IATSE International Moment of Silence, commemorating International Workers’ Memorial Day, will be observed. Workers and local unions are asked to pause at work, their local offices, or where ever they are and stop for a moment of silence. Here is a suggested reflection, which may be read aloud:
“Each year on April 28, Workers’ Memorial Day/National Day of Mourning, working people throughout the world mourn for the people who were hurt or killed on the job, and renew our struggle for safe workplaces. The best way to ensure that workplaces are safe is to make sure workers have the freedom to join together in a union.
Each year, millions of workers are injured – including workers in the entertainment industry working busy, highly-demanding jobs, sometimes in dangerous environments.
Unions have fought for and won a 40-hour workweek. We fought for and won healthcare benefits and strong pensions. We still have a lot of fighting to do to make workplaces safer and to ensure that significant standards are issued, and enforced, to protect workers.
On this Workers’ Memorial Day/National Day of Mourning, we remember and pay tribute to those in every kind of job and craft, in our own industry and all industries, who have lost their lives on the job or have been injured or made sick.
And on this day, we commit to work together to fight the assault on workers’ right to bargain for fairer workplaces, safer workplaces, a better life and a brighter future.
We mourn, we remember, and we will never stop fighting.
Please pause for a moment of silence.”
Other remembrances for this day can be black arm bands, wearing a purple ribbon with a knot tied in it, reading the names of those member/workers who have died during the year or in the past, or flying your flag at half-mast.
By taking these actions, you honor the workers who died trying to make a living doing some task that didn’t need to kill them. We remember them and their families, and rededicate ourselves to the fight.
NAOSH Week: May 7-13
The North American Occupational Safety and Health Week (NAOSH), is May 7-13, 2017. This week is dedicated to raising safety and health awareness in workplaces throughout Canada, the U.S., and Mexico. There are many events that can be planned for this week – simple things, like posting safety reminders on employee bulletin boards or articles in local union newsletters. Other things might be working with employers to have more safety meetings or organizing safety trainings at your local for this week. NAOSH Week is a great time to have a class.
Another aspect of NAOSH Week is to promote safety in the community. Holding a safety awareness class for high school or college students can help to protect them as they enter the job world, and allow your union to have a positive interaction in their community.
If you have a training person at the local, you can use the “Intro to OSHA” module for an OSHA 10 Hour training to put on a class. It has great information about OSHA, workers’ rights, and how to report hazards.
Annual Fall Safety Stand Down: May 8-12
As part of raising safety awareness during NAOSH Week, OSHA has puts together a fall prevention campaign each year. This year the Annual Fall Safety Stand-Down will be May 8-12. Falls from elevation make up over a third of the deaths in construction workplaces. The worst part is these deaths are preventable. This campaign is meant to focus on this high-risk issue to reduce the number of people hurt. While certain IATSE workers are more exposed to working at heights than others, basic elements of fall-protection, such as safe use of ladders, apply to many IATSE workers in all crafts, and they will find these resources useful.
OSHA has developed several resources we welcome you to use including “toolbox talks” – outlines for short 5-10 minute talks on identifying and responding to common hazards, short videos, and handouts (including inspection checklists) – that may be used to participate in the event. There are also posters and other promotional materials.
OSHA Safe + Sound Week: June 12-18
A proven method of creating a safer workplace is for a company to have a health and safety program. The program is a plan that employers make to try and eliminate hazards at work. A program uses some specific elements like employee participation, good communications, and training to achieve the goals of safety.
The IATSE is a campaign sponsor and partner for the week. Check out the IATSE logo on the “sponsors” part of the web site!
Heat Illness Prevention Campaign: Summer 2017
Excessive heat is always a potential hazard to workers, and can even cause death. Employers are responsible to protect workers from heat illness. Having water, rest, and shade are the simple steps to prevent problems. A heat prevention program also requires that emergencies are planned for, and that employees receive training. This summer, be aware of the heat and ask your employer about their heat prevention program. For more information, visit their website.
OHSA also has a Heat Safety Tool app for both iPhone and Android smart phones.
IATSE Training Trust Fund
The IATSE Training Trust Fund offers safety and training resources to all IATSE workers, locals, and employers, 365 days a year. Staff at the TTF can assist you, no matter what your training needs may be. Information, including a downloadable guide to setting up a training program in your own local union, may be found on the Training Trust Fund web page.