Region 2 News Release: NY 214
Tuesday Nov 30, 1999
Contact: Chester J. Fultz
WESTERN NEW YORK WORKER-SAFETY ORGANIZATION HONORED BY U.S. LABOR DEPARTMENT
FOR ITS SUPPORT OF GOVERNMENT-EMPLOYEE SAFETY AND HEALTH
The U.S. Labor Department has honored-for the eighth consecutive year-a volunteer group in Western New York whose mission is to help the Occupational Safety and Health Administration provide safety and health protection to government employees in the same way it does for workers in the private sector.
In ceremonies today in Baltimore, OSHA chief Charles Jeffress presented the Western New York Federal Safety and Health Council with the Superior Performance Award, the highest category of the honor, for its accomplishments in calendar year 1998.
"Government employees deserve a workplace free of safety and health hazards just as all other workers do," Jeffress said. "The Western New York Council deserves special recognition for its leadership in raising awareness of safety and health issues in the government workplace, promoting participation by an increasing number of government agencies in Western New York, and providing useful, even potentially life-saving, information to employees and their families."
Federal Safety and Health Councils throughout the country serve as clearinghouses for data on occupational injuries and illnesses, provide technical advice and information on safety and health to the representatives of their agencies, and offer a forum for the local exchange of information and concerns to help safety and health representatives carry out their duties.
Robert LeCastre, chairperson of the Western New York Council who accepted the award from Jeffress, said the organization covers a ten-county area which encompasses more than 15,000 federal, state, county, and municipal employees. During 1998, the council held quarterly meetings in which as many as 50 safety and health representatives received briefings on such topics as electrical safety, safe winter driving, principles of stress management, boating safety, and the recognition and remedies for "sick building" syndrome.
"Strengthening the federal workplace as a safe, healthful place to work is just as big a challenge as in the private sector," LeCastre said. "We have laboratories. We have all types of vehicles-we even have the West Valley Demonstration Project, where a former nuclear fuel reprocessing plant is being decommissioned and decontaminated. So, working with OSHA and being able to effectively apply OSHA standards is extremely important to the many, diverse agencies in our area, and it's a good feeling to know OSHA thinks we're on the right track."
In addition to representatives of federal and other governmental employers, participation by employers in the private sector and representatives of labor unions is welcomed by Federal Safety and Health Councils also. Further information can be obtained from Ellen Sidell, secretary of the Western New York Safety and Health Council, at (716) 684-3891 extension 248.
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