Pechter-E; Azaroff-LS; López-I; Goldstein-Gelb-M
Public Health Rep 2009 Jul-Aug; 124(Suppl 1):45-52
Workplace hazards affecting vulnerable populations of low-wage and immigrant workers present a special challenge to the practice of occupational health. Unions, Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (COSH) groups, and other organizations have developed worker-led approaches to promoting safety. Public health practitioners can provide support for these efforts. This article describes a successful multiyear project led by immigrant cleaning workers with their union, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 615, and with support from the Massachusetts COSH (MassCOSH) to address exposure to hazardous chemicals. After the union had identified key issues and built a strategy, the union and MassCOSH invited staff from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health's Occupational Health Surveillance Program (OHSP) to provide technical information about health effects and preventive measures. Results included eliminating the most hazardous chemicals, reducing the number of products used, banning mixing products, and improving safety training. OHSP's history of public health practice regarding cleaning products enabled staff to respond promptly. MassCOSH's staff expertise and commitment to immigrant workers allowed it to play a vital role.
Chemical-hypersensitivity; Chemical-reactions; Cleaning-compounds; Education; Educational-resource-centers; Exposure-assessment; Exposure-methods; Health-hazards; Health-programs; Occupational-exposure; Occupational-hazards; Occupational-health; Protective-measures; Racial-factors; Safety-education; Safety-measures; Safety-practices; Surveillance-programs; Work-analysis; Work-environment; Worker-health; Worker-motivation; Work-organization; Workplace-studies; Work-practices
Elise Pechter, MPH, CIH, Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Occupational Health Surveillance Program, 6th Floor, 250 Washington St., Boston, MA 02108
Healthcare and Social Assistance
Public Health Reports
Massachusetts State Department of Public Health