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Your Environment. Your Health.

International Chemical Workers Union Council Center for Worker Health and Safety Education

Principal Investigator / Institution

Cyphers, Frank J.
Frank Cyphers
Tel 330-926-1444
Fax 330-926-0816
International Chemical Workers Union (ICWU)
1655 West Market Street
Akron, Ohio 44313

Program Contact

Morawetz, John S.
John S. Morawetz
Tel 513-621-8882
Fax 513-621-8247
ICWUC Center for Worker Health and Safety Education
329 Race Street
Cincinnati, Ohio 45202-3534

Program Description

International Chemical Workers Union Council logo

Since 1987, the International Chemical Workers Union Council (ICWUC) Center for Worker Health and Safety Education in Cincinnati, Ohio, and its nine-member union-based Consortium have built a nationally-recognized hazardous materials training program. The ICWUC continues its national multiunion training program to protect a range of collateral duty emergency responders and disaster workers, to protect thousands of U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) workers who are daily exposed to a wide variety of hazardous substances, and to develop a cadre of worker trainers.

The Consortium represents a large constituency of workers across the U.S. in a variety of sectors that will have to contain and clean up hazardous substance releases that occur at their workplaces, from ammonia releases in meatpacking facilities to school or hospital lab spills. The Consortium targets chemical emergency responders and hazardous waste treatment, storage, and disposal facility workers. This includes a wide range of industrial, first-receiver, Spanish-speaking, and government workers and minority community members. The Consortium also provides hazardous materials training to its members in health care who deal with potentially contaminated victims of hazardous substance (including biological agents) emergencies, and public sector employee response teams in a hazardous materials incident.

A strong and experienced train-the-trainer component is integral to all ICWUC Center programs, with almost all educational staff being former worker trainers. The Center has a proud tradition of partnering with many organizations and awardees under all its projects and welcomes the opportunity to work with nontraditional partners.

Hazardous Waste Worker Training Program (HWWTP)

The HWWTP provides environmental health and safety training to workers from a variety of backgrounds – first responders, first receivers, and workers who handle hazardous substances. Site-specific instruction is customized to employer needs. The training accommodates workers with limited English proficiency and is rooted in various adult education techniques. Center staff are authorized to conduct a variety of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) classes.

Under an Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response grant with the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health, the Center is adapting/translating Spanish language training materials for mold awareness training. The Center also has a program on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ALOHA and MARPLOT software to model unintentional chemical releases, and conducts worker community programs on Occupational Shelter in Place.

HAZMAT Disaster Preparedness Training Program (HDPTP)

Under the HDPTP, the Consortium trains workers and community members to prepare for and respond to catastrophic events involving hazardous substances. The goal of the project is to have active, informed workers on the front lines of catastrophic releases and disasters to recognize the dangers they face, protect themselves, and strive to improve disaster plans. The Consortium develops and uses worker trainers to deliver disaster training designed around participatory adult education techniques, and delivers classes on coordinated disaster assistance, disaster response awareness, incident command, first aid/CPR and automated external defibrillator, OSHA construction standards, OSHA site disaster classes, flu pandemic, mold, Ebola awareness, and other emerging issues. In addition, trainers are trained to use EPA software to model intentional chemical releases, and conduct worker community programs on Occupational Shelter in Place. The Center actively participated in the Katrina, BP oil, and Sandy responses by writing new curriculum, delivering awareness classes, and developing train-the-trainer classes.

NIEHS/DOE Nuclear Worker Training Program

The DOE program trains workers who are, or have the potential to be, employed on demolition, decommission, and decontamination projects at the DOE nuclear weapons facilities. The ICWUC Consortium currently delivers training at four DOE facilities: Hanford, Washington; Oak Ridge, Tennessee; Kansas City, Missouri; and Los Alamos, New Mexico. Workers at these sites are exposed to a variety of hazards – including radiation, heavy metals, solvents, and acid gases – through their normal work, as well as due to significant hazardous waste on-site and releases and other incidents in these aging plants.

The ICWUC implements DOE site training delivered by teams of DOE worker trainers at the four sites. These sites are fully operational and rely on on-site experienced worker trainers (Hanford, Oak Ridge, and Kansas City), while Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) uses an experienced local DOE worker trainer. The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers is a significant partner in these efforts, representing members at three of these sites. Classes include a range of Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER)-related classes, including a five-day Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) course; 16-hour bridge classes for workers transferring into regulated areas; and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) classes, with all covered workers taking an eight-hour refresher class annually. There are respirator refreshers at Hanford and fall protection and confined space programs at LANL. Our experienced DOE trainers develop all curricula, evaluate all programs, are subject matter resource experts for hourly and salaried workers, and are trained to use EPA software to model chemical releases.

Ebola Biosafety and Infectious Disease Response Training

The ICWU has a long-term goal to develop active, informed workers on the frontlines of exposure to patients with highly infectious diseases so they recognize their potential exposures, protect themselves, and strive to improve their workplaces' infectious disease control programs. This includes conducting 140 two-, four-, and eight-hour Ebola and infectious disease awareness programs (2,740 workers and 10,400 contact hours). Courses will include hands-on demonstrations, personal protective equipment (PPE) donning and doffing, and incorporation of numerous adult learning concepts with over 10,000 contact hours both at the awareness and operations level. Social networking will be used to share resources among trainers, which is innovative. The investigators will build on the success of previous supplemental funding, and they have a model for training and bringing in a consortium of labor unions and private sector groups. The applicant will use Adult Education Techniques that utilize the knowledge and experience of participants to teach key principles in a non-threatening and engaging manner. The investigators will develop 62 worker trainers in four Trainer Development classes (1,152 contact hours), as well as form an Infectious Disease Advisory Panel to provide additional technical expertise on infectious diseases. The ICWUC will conduct this training with new partners: the Association of Environmental and Occupational Clinics (AOEC); the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME); SEIU Local 1199; and the Midwest Consortium. This large network covers a vast number of people from different populations. Their focus is all about chemical awareness. The Coalition of Black Trade Unionists' (CBTU) Community Teams will expand their efforts to conduct infectious disease classes primarily for first responders in Jackson, Mississippi, Detroit, Michigan, and Memphis, Tennessee. The goal of the evaluation will be to collect pre/post-training data to assess the impact on workplace changes carried out by trained participants. In addition, the investigators will continue to use social networking technology to enhance communication and sharing of resources among trainers and across partners.

Project Duration

  • August 1, 2015 - July 31, 2020 (HWWTP, HDPTP)
  • September 1, 2015 - August 31, 2020 (DOE)
  • June 1, 2016 - May 31, 2019 (Ebola Biosafety and Infectious Disease Response)

Grant Numbers

  • U45 ES006162-24 (HWWTP, HDPTP)
  • UH4 ES009758-24 (DOE)
  • UH4 ES027073-01 (Ebola Biosafety and Infectious Disease Response)

Other Participating Organizations

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