United Steelworkers Health Safety and Environment Conference 2013

USW/CWA/Tony Mazzocchi Center Health and Safety Conference in Pittsburgh.

On 23rd – 25th September 2013 I attended the USW/CWA/Tony Mazzocchi Center Health and Safety Conference in Pittsburgh.

Once again, this was a highly impressive event with up to 1800 delegates for the Union-Management part of the conference from Tuesday 24th to Friday 27th September. As well as plenary sessions involving Union speakers there were notable external speakers from high level H&S institutions, and a series of approximately 50 workshops, many repeated throughout the week.

Monday is a union only day, with the rest of the week involving management reps as well.

The conference is brilliantly organised and draws upon helpers including those from the USW H&S Department, Regional USW H&S personnel, Tony Mazzocchi Center trainers and CWA personnel. It is difficult to see how Unite could organise a national H&S conference on such a scale, even though the USW manages it on a lower membership base.

I was able to assist with several workshops on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, on behavioural safety, safety committees and safety culture, as well as attending a couple of direct interest to me.

The whole event provides a very effective means of cementing H&S relationships between Unite and the USW, as well as establishing very useful contacts with several US based organisations. The whole process enables Unite to obtain useful information on H&S issues relevant to Unite campaigns and Unite members and hopefully provide assistance to the USW.

This year we have been able to advance contacts on a number of fronts, including offshore and onshore high hazard areas, respirable crystalline silica (RCS), behavioural safety and accident reporting and prevention. As a result of information issued by the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) we have made contact with the UK HSE asking them to put out information about improving accident reporting measures in the UK.

Unite is assisting the USW and several US organisations in relation to a number of issues, including offshore hazards, UK safety case legislation and European H&S developments.

Bud Hudspith
Unite National H&S Advisor

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