The steward as health & safety activist.
Worksite health and safety is a crucial part of your job as a steward.
If your unit has a health and safety committee, it may be your job to help lead it. If you don't have one, better start one.
There was a time when occupational health and safety meant hard hats and machine guards, but no more. The problems many SEIU workers face are widespread, increasingly complex, and often highly technical.
Office work was once thought to be completely safe and healthy. Asbestos, radon, carpal tunnel syndrome, video display terminals, and indoor air pollution have laid that myth to rest, along with a lot of workers.
That's where you come in. As a steward, you'll have an important responsibility to organize around health and safety. If you find you need help, you can get all the assistance you need from the SEIU Health and Safety Department or its regional coordinators in your area. Give them a call.
Here's a little "bill of rights" for workers the SEIU Health and Safety Department finds useful:
- Workers have a right to a safe and healthy workplace. The law says the employer must provide a safe place to work. It doesn't say anything about the cost.
- Workers have a right to information about workplace hazards, substances they are being exposed to, and injuries and illnesses (OSHA 2000 Log).
- Workers exposed to chemicals, bloodborne diseases, hazardous materials, and certain other workplace hazards have the right to training on how to protect themselves.
- Workers have the right to bring in union health and safety specialists to help identify hazards in the workplace.
- Workers have the right to organize in order to secure protection from workplace hazards.
- Management has to post the OSHA 2000 Log--you need to check it, and make sure it's right.