ESTABLISH HEALTH AND SAFETY COMMITTEES
WHEREAS, the American Federation of Teachers recognizes that every teacher, professor, nurse and health professional, public employee, and paraprofessional and school-related personnel deserves a safe and healthful workplace free of known dangers; and
WHEREAS, AFT members face occupational safety and health hazards, such as infectious diseases, indoor air pollution, workplace violence and ergonomic problems every day; and
WHEREAS, occupational safety and health hazards kill and disable more than 100,000 workers each year—on average 5,000 from traumatic injuries and an estimated 95,000 from occupational diseases; and
WHEREAS, despite having some of the most dangerous jobs in our society, over 8 million public employees throughout the United States still lack coverage under the Occupational Safety and Health Act; and
WHEREAS, even though the AFT has the one of largest health and safety programs of all labor unions, 1.7 million-member trainers add essential capacity to AFT health and safety education and training programs; and
WHEREAS, establishing a workplace health and safety committee is one way the union can involve members with implementing and improving working conditions as an effective committee can help prevent injury and illnesses on the job; increase awareness of health and safety issues among workers, supervisors and managers; and develop a culture of safety to make the work environment safe and healthy; and
WHEREAS, health and safety committees keep day-to-day watch on work-site conditions, identifying and solving problems before they become serious; and
WHEREAS, just as local unions create committees for contract enforcement, political action and other activities, workers benefit from a union-only committee of members who develop experience in handling health and safety matters; and
WHEREAS, a union-only health and safety committee can inform health and safety work in joint labor-management committees, resulting in more meaningful advocacy that results in safer work, fewer incidents of workplace illness and injuries, and possibly saves lives:
RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers will support affiliates that renew their commitment to enhancing existing health and safety committees, and to create a union health and safety committee where they do not exist; and
RESOLVED, that the AFT will develop resources for health and safety missions that develop and promote a healthy and safe environment for all employees and the communities we serve, and that includes key activities that include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Identify unsafe work practices and conditions and suggest appropriate remedies.
- Conduct health and safety inspections of both operations and facilities, identify safety and health hazards, and recommend corrective measures.
- Review accident/incident reports. Types of accidents, causes and trends will be identified, and appropriate corrective action suggested.
- Obtain and analyze available data on past injuries and illnesses, and identify trends and suggest appropriate corrective actions.
- Assist in the development and implementation of effective health and safety awareness programs.
- Encourage feedback from all individuals about health and safety-related ideas, problems and solutions.
- Develop written programs to ensure compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Administration health and safety regulations.
- Serve as an advisory body to management on health and safety issues.
- Provide suggestions and recommendations for resolution of health and safety concerns.
(July 15, 2022)