John S. Morawetz
International Chemical Workers Union
A new study showed that providing occupational safety and health training to the entire work force and listening to worker concerns at a chemical facility encouraged communication and led to significant safety improvements. The efforts were supported by NIEHS worker training center infrastructure.
Managers at the Afton Chemical Corporation's Sauget facility, in collaboration with the International Chemical Workers Union Council Local 871C, worked together to provide the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s 10-hour training to all Sauget employees. They followed the training with a series of group discussion sessions in which participants were encouraged to articulate health and safety concerns.
According to the study, participants discussed 104 health and safety concerns that required attention around the plant. In just two years, nearly every concern was resolved, in many cases more cost efficiently than that usually done with top-down decision-making. The facility also instated a streamlined process to identify and resolve new concerns as they arose.
Authors noted that the health and safety improvements required dedicated funding, as well as union and management leadership who were willing to work together. According to the authors, the successful cooperative effort could serve as a model for many other facilities.
Citation: Mahan B, Maclin R, Ruttenberg R, Mundy K, Frazee T, Schwartzkopf R, Morawetz J. 2018. Labor-management cooperation in Illinois: How a joint union company team is improving facility safety. New Solut doi: 10.1177/1048291118759303. [Online 21 February 2018].