Union Sisters & Brothers
I would like to start by asking you to consider two things pertaining to Safety. The same process that has been in place for years and most of these processes are broken processes that need a complete overhaul.
The second is for those that have been injured to share your injury story and allow me to hear about your injury, so we can learn how to prevent injuries from reoccurring.
Our Union was founder for better working conditions, living wages, and acceptable benefits. But safe working conditions were a larger part of the fight.
When UAW Organized the Big Three the average life expectancy was 45 years of age for men working in the Automobile Foundry, men on the assembly line worked long hours suffered injuries due to lack of machine safety (guards, increased speed on assembly lines). Basic human needs were not given to workers, such water and bathroom breaks.
Engineering controls and PPE were unheard of, non-existent in the facilities unless the employee paid for their needed PPE.
Our Union fought hard to achieve better working conditions, a safe work environment through organizing, and bargaining, these rights were won. The Responsibility of the company, and holding the company accountable, was and is an ongoing fight.
Now our unions work to improve and increase protection physically, environmentally, and through training.
We have already won the right to have a healthy and safe work environment.
It’s called THE ACT. That’s what our unions have done for us. (one of many things).
Our International Health and Safety Department is involved with all aspects of Health and Safety working with OSHA to provide Health and Safety Workshops, and Joint Health and Safety Hazardous Review Boards to Provide OSHA with data needed to improve standards.
The Safety Battle is ongoing. PPE improvement, health screening, and many other aspects involving new technology (engineering controls).
The biggest improvements are made by employees in the work places by knowing your rights.
It’s Federal Law that employers are required to provide a healthy and safe work place.
Each of us have a part pertaining to Health and Safety and it starts with you, persistence, responsibility, and, accountability. We can continue to do the same things we have done and things will remain the same.
Or we can take a step back and start reorganizing and increasing our involvement. All of us accepting responsibility and accountability. It starts with each of us, it starts with you and I. Report unsafe conditions and together we can achieve a better working environment.
In some facilities there have been improvements made by committed safety advocates. It is working, when you have all the elements in place. Track Ability the near miss system provides track ability, accountability, responsibility, patience, and persistence.
We have to provide the accountability by tracking and informing our employer of the safety hazards not just vocal, but by using near miss, email to the supervisor and a safety advocate in your facility and me.
A verbal notice is not enough, there is a time limit for reporting incidents and it requires documentation. Have you heard the phrase “DOCUMENTATION! DOCUMENTATION! DOCUMENTATION! IT WORKS.”
Documentation is traceable, requires attention, investigation, and a response to resolve the matter. Our part is accountability when we notify the employer of a concern in written form we are providing an account of the problem. Using all the tools and avenues needed to prove our point. The near miss system is a means of accountability and track ability it’s a much needed paper trail.
Safety problems to be unresolved due to lack of paper trail and evidence that, the failure to report a near miss leaves issues that can only be gathered at time of occurrence.
By bringing our ideas to the table on how the improvements need to be made will provide solutions. Who better to provide solutions than you?
Safety Advocate System when applied properly can work. But like all things it requires work and commitment on our part. We are accountable to each other by identifying safety hazards to avoid injuries and notifying the employer of safety hazards, concerns, issues, and problems.
The system works by applying responsibility on the employer’s part, to address the reported documented safety problems. We have to expect a reasonable resolve to safety hazards.
In some cases it takes time to investigate the problems to provide a solution, but it also takes reminders and to follow up.
The employer knows it’s his responsibility to work with you and me to resolve any unsafe work conditions.
It’s Federal Law, known as the Act or OSHA CFR 1903.1
Knowing Your Rights You have the Right to a Healthy Safe Work Environment.
I have been able to make some safety improvements, but its not enough; one person cannot make all the necessary improvements. I’m asking for your help in overhauling a broken system. It takes a team!
It starts with real safety advocate meetings where we are responsible for making the needed changes through the safety process, where our solutions are the first to be considered and implemented.
You are the experts, you build the products. Who knows more about what you need than you.
In some cases it requires (JHA) Job Hazard Analysis & Risk Assessment in order to find the safe solution. Some are a quick fix, and others take time and persistency. That’s what we as teams will accomplish by addressing problems at the table, with ideas to correct safety hazards. Coming up with solutions, is our accountability if we want it done right.
Holding the company responsible for implementing the safety solutions that need to be done.
TOGETHER WE CAN ACHIEVE THIS.
Sincerely, Rebecca Martinez, UAW Health & Safety