Occupational Injuries and Disease: Workers Memorial Day 
Author Message
 Occupational Injuries and Disease: Workers Memorial Day

Here is a press release from the American Federation of State,
County and Municipal Employees.

 Unions Point To Deadly Workplaces; AFSCME, Other Unions
Commemorate Workers Memorial Day
 To: National Desk, Labor Writer
 Contact: Janet Rivera of the American Federation of State, County
and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO, 202-429-1130

   WASHINGTON, April 23 -- The American Federation of State,
County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and other unions
of the AFL-CIO on Wednesday, April 28, will commemorate the fifth
annual Workers Memorial Day -- a day to pay homage to the 6
million workers who are killed, injured, or diseased on the job.
   This year, AFSCME will focus its Workers Memorial Day efforts an
the dangerous environment in which corrections officers must work.
Earlier this month, an AFSCME corrections officer, Robert
Vallandingham, was killed by inmates who overtook the corrections
facility in Lucasville, Ohio.
   The law and order agenda of the 1980s has resulted in a steady
increase in the prison population for the past five years.  On
Jn. 1, 1992, the prison population was 709,587. Projections
show a continued increase in the number of inmates, with an
expected prison population of 811,253 in 1994.
   The conditions which this burgeoning prison population has
created for corrections officers is partially reflected in the
number of {*filter*}s by inmates against staff.  {*filter*}s against
staff increased dramatically between 1987 and 1989, and remain
high.  In 1987, there were 808 {*filter*}s by inmates against staff,
compared to 9,961 such {*filter*}s in 1991.
   The increased number of inmates has brought on the dangerous
combination of overcrowding and understaffing.  For example in Ohio
officer-to-inmate ratio is 1 to 8.4 -- the second worst ratio in
the nation. The national average is 1 to 5.3.  Other health and
safety issues facing corrections officers include AIDS, Hepatitis
B, tuberculosis, stress, and chemical hazards.
   AFSCME has more than 50,000 members who work in the nation's
federal, state and local correctional facilities.
   Correction officers are not alone in performing their jobs under
life-threatening conditions.  Every year, 10,000 American workers
die from job-related injuries, and tens of thousands more die from
occupational disease.  Public employees do some of the nation's
most dangerous jobs. Perilous occupations include:

   -- Highway Workers - Highway workers are often injured and
      frequently killed by moving traffic because work zones are
      not barricaded or don't have proper lighting.
   -- Health Care Workers - Hospitals have the highest number of
      job-related injuries and illnesses of any private sector
      employer and nursing homes ranked fifth.  There were more
      than 325,000 job-related illnesses and injuries in private
      sector hospitals in 1991, up almost 10 percent over the
      previous year.  It is generally believed that health care
      workers employed at public sector hospitals and nursing homes
      have a significantly higher rate of injuries and illnesses
      than do their private sector counterparts.  Health and safety
      issues facing health care workers include exposure to
      tuberculosis and the HIV virus, back injuries, and high
      levels of stress.
   -- Social Workers - Social workers who work in mental health
      institutions are often the victims of {*filter*}s and,
      sometimes, fatal attacks.  For instance, last October, a man
      carrying a semiautomatic handgun walked into the Schuyler
      County Social Services Building in Watkins Glenn, N.Y.
      and fatally shot social services workers, before turning the
      gun on himself.  There are two basic problems.  First is a
      growing lack of support services for people who don't have
      the help they need.  Because workers are overworked, some
      clients are not given the adequate amount of counselling.
      Such conditions may cause clients to become more frustrated.
      The "quality" of the clients is also becoming more {*filter*},
      as more are moved out of the institutions.

   Nearly 2 million workers have been killed by workplace hazards
since OSHA was passed.  Moreover, as AFSCME President Gerald W.
McEntee explains, OSHA does not provide workplace safety
protections for public employees.
   "More than 1,600 public employees are killed each year on the
job, yet 27 states still provide no federally-approved OSHA
coverage for public employees," said McEntee.  "This, despite the
fact that public employees -- highway workers, health care workers,
corrections officers, to name but a few -- do some of the most
dangerous work in our society.  This year we are fighting for
passage of OSHA reform legislation to give all workers greater
rights and protections, and finally guarantee all public employees
safe workplaces.  We need the public support to be successful."
   Government workers suffer 25 percent more injuries than private
sector workers, and these injuries are almost 75 percent more
   Public employees were exempted from OSHA when the law was passed
in 1970 and today, public employees in more than half the states
have no OSHA coverage.
Canada Remote Systems - Toronto, Ontario

Sat, 14 Oct 1995 05:06:03 GMT
 [ 1 post ] 

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