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OSHA Region V Reaches Union Workers at AFL-CIO Health and Safety Conference in Wisconsin

Acting OSHA Assistant Secretary Jordan Barab providing the keynote address at the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO Health and Safety Conference on September 25, 2009.

Acting OSHA Assistant Secretary Jordan Barab providing the keynote address at the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO Health and Safety Conference on September 25, 2009.

OSHA Region V reached out to union workers by participating in the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO Health and Safety Conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on September 24-25, 2009. Representatives from OSHA's four Wisconsin Area Offices, the AFL-CIO, the University of Wisconsin-Madison Extension School for Workers, and Wisconsin's On-site Consultation Program worked for more than a year to plan this event. Approximately 75 union workers attended this first statewide AFL-CIO Health and Safety Conference in Wisconsin.

Maintaining effective relationships with the leadership and members of Wisconsin's unions is a priority for OSHA Region V. The conference gave OSHA staff an opportunity to share OSHA information, including updates on OSHA's priorities under the new Administration, with union workers.

Jordan Barab, Deputy Assistant Secretary and Acting Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health, was the keynote speaker. In his remarks, he said: "There's one item that we see in every single workplace success story: a comprehensive safety and health management system in which management and workers are committed and equal partners in workplace safety and health." He said that joint programs involving strong unions that are knowledgeable about safety and health and managers who recognize the value of safe workplaces are the best way to achieve safe and healthful workplaces.

The conference also featured a variety of presentations on safety and health topics of interest to union workers, including a presentation on "A Union Approach to Workplace Safety and Health" by Sharon Simon, Director, Labor Safety and Health Training Project at the National Labor College and Neill DeClercq, Director, University of Wisconsin School for Workers. Ms. Simon also gave a presentation on what workers need to know about H1N1 influenza. In addition, an OSHA Compliance Assistance Specialist presented on union members' OSHA rights and an OSHA Whistleblower Program Manager reviewed OSHA's whistleblower protection program.

The workers who attended the conference provided positive feedback, including:

  • "The labor movement really making a difference."
  • "It was all enlightening. This could have been a full week of information."
  • "Receive[d] tools to be able to go back to the workplace and . . . make a difference and the workplace safer."
  • "It helped me realize what OSHA actually does and what they have to offer."
  • "Good OSHA info - I have a better understanding of OSHA now."

The participants hope to build on the success of this conference by holding future conferences, possibly on an annual basis. For more information, contact Leslie Ptak, Region V Compliance Assistance Specialist, Madison, Wisconsin.

As of December 2009.

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