Newsletter April 21, 2016
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From the Executive Director's Desk

In 2015, 36 workers were killed on the job right here in New Jersey. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports 4,679 workers were killed on the job nationally in 2014. These are statistics, but the numbers represent real people, workers with friends, neighbors and families who needlessly lost their lives on the job. Lou Kimmel, Executive Director of New Labor, and I recently wrote an op-ed that was published in the Home News Tribune. We stressed the need for accountability regarding worker safety:

"Far too often, responsibility is outsourced and health and safety issues are ignored. Temp agencies and their client firms have joint responsibility to ensure a safe workplace free of recognized hazards. Large multinational corporations should fulfill their social responsibility pacts by making sure contractors who work for them maintain safe and healthful working conditions."  

At our Workers' Memorial Day rally and march on Sunday, April 24, we will hear from the family of a Bogota, New Jersey man who lost his life working for a temp agency. James Hoyt, known as Jamie, was working a temp job for Labor Ready, moving racks of computers out of a Verizon facility in Pearl River, New York. A rack slipped, his foot got caught and computers fell on him, crushing him and tragically ending his life. Jamie's family will be speaking out at the rally, to honor his life and advocate for changes in the temporary labor system.  

Please join us to commemorate fallen workers like Jamie and push for prevention to avoid these tragedies. Together, we'll march to demand RESPECT, including safe workplaces and living wages.  

In Solidarity,
Lead in Schools
Lead exposure from both paint and water can take place in schools. Breathing and accidently ingesting lead paint dust is responsible for most lead poisoning, with an estimated 10 to 20 percent of lead exposure coming from drinking water. Lead is most damaging during pregnancy and the first few years of life, when it can disrupt brain development and lead to lifelong learning and behavior problems. Young children and school staff and older students who are pregnant or nursing are most vulnerable.

Levels above the action level of 15 parts per billion (ppb) were found in 12 percent (250 of 2,067) of water samples in Newark’s public school buildings from 2012 to 2016. We don’t know how many other school districts have similar problems with high lead levels in drinking water or even whether or not they conduct testing.

With the help of our industrial hygiene consultants, WEC has drafted a one-pager on the dangers of lead and suggested a statewide action plan to address lead issues.
OSHA Announces New Silica Rule
On March 24, The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced new federal limits on exposure to deadly silica dust after a decades-long process to update it. The rule reduces the permissible exposure limit to crystalline silica to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air during an 8-hour work shift.

Employers are required to use cost-effective measures to reduce silica dust including wetting down affected areas, vacuuming up dust before workers can inhale it, and improved ventilation. Employers must also monitor workers’ exposure to silica, provide medical exams for those with high exposure, and train all potentially exposed workers about the hazards of silica dust and how to avoid them.

OSHA estimates that when the final rule becomes fully effective, it will save more than 600 lives annually and prevent more than 900 new cases of silicosis - an incurable and progressive disease - each year. The agency also estimates the final rule will provide net benefits of about $7.7 billion per year.

“Perhaps we can say goodbye to the sight of former construction workers connected by plastic tubes to portable oxygen tanks and concentrators due to lung damage caused by breathing in too much silica dust during their careers,” said Ken Hoffner, Assistant Director for the NJ Laborers Health and Safety Fund.

WEC sent out a press release and has produced a public service announcement to help bring attention to the dangers of silica.
 Please Join WEC
Thank you to all the members who already renewed their membership. As a reminder, individuals and organizations can join WEC and you may pay for your membership online. If you aren't yet a member, please join today!
Need a speaker for an upcoming event, meeting, or training conference on workplace, environmental, or school safety issues? WEC staff would love to help. Contact Cecelia Gilligan Leto for more information.
Become a Member
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Upcoming Events

April 23
Building Strength
through Education, Communications, and Activism

CLUW Event

IBEW, Local 269,
670 Whitehead Rd, Trenton

April 25

Rally to Support
Verizon Strike

Statehouse, Trenton

May 14
Healthy Schools Now
Best Practices Event

NJEA Headquarters
180 West State Street
WEC Supports

WEC has signed onto Citizen Action's Equal Pay letter.
PSA on working with silica. 
2016 Silica PSA
Copyright © 2016 The New Jersey Work Environment Council, All rights reserved.

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