Make your own free website on




CUPE members in Manitoba have the legal right to refuse unsafe work under the Workplace Safety and Health Act Section 43 when a person believes that the work is dangerous to the health and safety of that person or any other person.
Steps to Refuse Work
If you believe that a dangerous situation exists at work, you have the right to refuse to work. Notify your immediate supervisor, foreperson or person in charge of the workplace of your concern, and refuse the unsafe work. The person receiving the report or a person designated by them, must investigate along with you or a person whom you designate, and take the actions to remedy the dangerous situation. During the investigation another person cannot be assigned to perform the job until they are informed by you or your representative. If the dangerous condition is not remedied, you may continue to refuse to work. Any one of the persons conducting the investigation may notify a government workplace safety and health officer to investigate. After completing the investigation the officer must provide a written report of the findings and orders to you, the employer, and co-chairpersons of the workplace safety and health committee or its representative and the director. If the findings have not resolved the issue, you can appeal to the Manitoba Labour Board within seven days of their order. Workers cannot be threatened or discriminated for complying with the legislation, Workplace Safety and Health Act Section 42. You have the legal right to a healthy and safe workplace. For more information contact your local union health and safety representative or your union executive.

We hope to keep you informed on WHS issues.

You are a safety rep! As a CUPE local union health and safety representative, elected or appointed by your local, you have legal rights and protection spelled out in law. Your rights give you the power to carry out workplace investigations on behalf of your local, make recommendations to your employer, and ask for health and safety information and training. Becoming a local union health and safety representative may be your first union job, or you may have just been elected to become your locals health and safety representative. In any event, you can call upon the experience and expertise that CUPE has both at the local, regional and national level. Here are some important facts you should know as a local health and safety representative:
Your right to participate
Your right to investigate
Your right to inspect
Your right to be consulted
Your right to information
Your right to time off
Can CUPE help?
What do you need to get started?
CUPE publications Training Other resources
This pamphlet is to welcome you to a position that will be as important as it is rewarding. It will also help provide you with an understanding of your basic responsibilities so that you can properly represent your local union members.
The main responsibilities in your job are to: make sure that work does not damage the health and safety of cupe members check that changes introduced by management do not lead to poorer working conditions help your union and the health and safety committee ensure that management meets its responsibilities to provide work and a workplace that is healthy and safe for your members
As a CUPE member health and safety representative one of your jobs is to keep an eye on the working conditions of your co-workers. If they have complaints or problems you can take these up with management. However, you do not have to wait until problems show up. There may be instances where you may be called upon to investigate issues such as: new chemical compounds introduced into the workplace lack of health and safety information or training workplaces that are too hot or too cold improper workstation layout/design no mechanical lifting equipment
At least once a month, or as often the health and safety legislation requires, you will need to carry out a workplace inspection, including talking to members about any health and safety problems. You will also have to conduct an investigation if there has been an accident or a fatality. If a government inspector has been called in, you have the right to accompany him or her.
Your employer has to consult with you about health and safety matters, including: measures that may affect the health and safety of your members health and safety information and training provided to your members
In order for you to do your union health and safety representative job well, and to represent your members interests properly, you will need to access information from your employer. The occupational health and safety laws recognize this, and have provisions to grant such access.
For example, your employer must provide you information on such things as: accident and injury information, WCB information, results of any workplace monitoring or measurements, information about chemical, physical or biological substances used or introduced into a workplace
Your employer must respect that as a union health and safety representative you are legally entitled to time off to conduct your duties. This is explained in the legislation in your jurisdiction. Usually this includes time off to: inspect the workplace conduct accident investigations prepare for and attend joint health and safety committee meetings
Can CUPE help?
One thing you should always remember is that as a cupe local union health and safety representative you are not alone. There are a number of people regionally and nationally who can help and support you: your CUPE staff representative regional CUPE health and safety staff in vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto, Montreal, and Halifax.
the national health and safety branch in Ottawa, which assists in coordinating the work of the regional health and safety staff CUPE education representatives
What do you need to get started?
CUPE has put together a kit to help you get started that includes: workplace inspection checklist, CUPE complaint forms, right to refuse cards, CUPE publications. The national health and safety branch in ottawa have put together a variety of fact sheets and guidelines that might be helpful to you. Example topics covered include:
back injuries, stopping violence at work, repetitive strain injuries, cold weather hazards, needlestick injuries
Contact the National Office if you are interested in these publications or enquire about the others that are available.
CUPE also conducts workshops and conferences designed to help health and safety reps represent their members effectively.
The national Health and Safety Branch also have extensive resources that might be helpful to you as a health and safety rep. For example, our library, internet resources, and databases provide health and safety information that you can access.
Canadian Union of Public Employees
21 Florence St., Ottawa ON K2P 0W6
613 237 1590 (phone) 613 237 5508 (fax)
Send us your feedback
Copyright CUPE 2001

Practical and Balanced Road For Safety and Health: Barrett Labour and Immigration Minister Becky Barrett today accepted the cornerstone recommendation of a review committee that the province lead Manitobans in
building a strong workplace safety and health culture. Key elements in the report are a public awareness campaign, an education curriculum, workplace training, clear prevention standards and increased responsibility. Acceptance of individual and shared responsibilities for a
safe workplace will be fostered with the support of enforcement measures when needed, said the minister.
"I invite Manitobans to join us and take up the challenge. We owe it to our,children to build a strong safety and health culture, one in which we all accept our individual and shared responsibility," said Barrett. "The needless costs of preventable illnesses, injuries and deaths are too high for Manitoba young people, workers, employers and families. This terrible waste must be reduced." The Workplace Safety and Health Review Report released by Barrett is based on public consultations on the government's six-point plan to prevent workplace injury and illness. The four-member review committee chaired by
Wally Fox-Decent accepted written submissions and held public meetings throughout the province in the fall of 2001.
"The committee members were pleased to participate in this process and address serious issues in the modern workplace," said Fox-Decent. "In formulating our 62 recommendations, we took a reasonable, balanced and
practical approach that builds on past successes and addresses new challenges in the workplace." Barrett announced immediate action in response to the review committee report: The Workers Compensation Board and the Workplace Safety and Health Division have been directed to develop and launch, in concert, a public awareness campaign about workplace safety and provincial safety and health
organizations. The ministers of labour and immigration, and agriculture and food have jointly designated Glen Blahey of the Workplace Safety and Health Division
to work from Manitoba Agriculture and Food as provincial farm safety co-ordinator with farmers, agricultural industries and rural communities to develop and deliver promotion, education and training for farm safety and
health.The newly created Prevention Partnership Unit in the Workplace Safety and Health Division will support and expand the network of community organizations committed to the prevention of injury, death and disease in
Manitoba workplaces. This initiative recognizes the importance of community partnerships in building a strong workplace safety and health culture in Manitoba. "We are continuing to move forward," said Barrett. "Safe and healthy workplaces have been and will continue to be a high priority for our government as well as all Manitobans."
Manitobans will have an opportunity to review and make comments on the report. The mailing address is Workplace Safety and Health Division, Room 200 - 401 York Ave., Winnipeg MB R3C 0P8. The e-mail address is For further information on making a submission, contact Barry Warrack, at 204-945-2351. Submissions will be accepted until March 22.
Following this additional public input, the government will announce its full response to the recommendations including legislative changes to be introduced in the spring session of the legislature. More information and the complete report are available on the Internet at, by telephone at 204-945-0767 or by e-mail at

Rail-safety awareness is lacking, schools say
Officials admit workshops are absent, needed
Thu, Nov 8, 2001
By Federico Barahona
LESS than half of 13 Winnipeg schools near railway tracks say they've offered railway safety workshops to students in the last two years. But yesterday, the principals of the 13 schools that participated in a Free Press survey agreed railway safety is something their students should be aware of. "This is an area of concern," said Irene Thiry, principal of Brooklands School, which is three blocks away from CPR's Weston Yards. Brooklands School was one of only three Winnipeg schools to have offered a railway track safety workshop in the last month. Two more schools reported offering the workshops within the last two years.
Other principals said that reading about Justin Preston, the Winnipeg 13-year-old who was almost paralysed after trying to hop onto a moving train last weekend, had motivated them to act. "That brought it pretty close to home for us," said Roberta Tucker, principal of Archwood School, which recently had a seminar. The principal of Preston's school, Munroe Junior School, which sits three just blocks from a railway track, said his school had not had a railway-safety course in the last two years but was looking into it now. Ironically, schools only start considering safety workshops after tragedies take place, according to Tom Bozyk, a CN Rail conductor who teaches railway safety to Manitoba students through Operation Lifesaver, a 20-year-old joint initiative of Transportation Canada and the Railway Association of Canada. "We send hundreds of letters to schools in Manitoba and the response that we have is probably less than half," said Bozyk, who added his workshops only take about 45 minutes and are free. Rick Small, a locomotive engineer, had the first fatality of his career last August when his train ran over a 30-year-old man in Manitoba. He said the incident left an emotional toll behind. "There was no way I could stop," he said last night. "You lose your sense of well-being after something like that." Bozyk said railway track safety should be definitely incorporated into the Manitoba school curriculum. But Keith Thomas, risk manager with the Manitoba Association of School Trustees, said often schools are overwhelmed with requests from external groups wanting to do presentations, adding that getting classroom time is often hard.

Workload overload
Cut through what governments and employers are saying about workload. Cut through what the experts are claiming about the lack of scientific proof that excessive workloads are injuring thousands of workers each day and whats left? Whats left is what happened to CUPE 40s Brother Willy. In all provinces and at all levels of the public sector, CUPE members are suffering from excessive and growing demands on their working time. Faced with downsizing, mergers, amalgamations and cutbacks many CUPE members are being forced to carry overwhelming workloads. All the while, governments are bragging about more efficient public services where smaller workforces are cleaning more schools, caring for more patients, providing social services to more clients and ensuring that municipal infrastructures are maintained. Besides selling the public short, governments are stretching a dedicated workforce ever thinner. In the process, theyre causing an increase in injuries and work-related stress. Excessive workloads or work overload isnt just having too much work to do or working longer hours. Employers today are intent on making us work harder and faster. They are changing and intensifying the way we do our work. Their goal is to be able to have us do more work with fewer workers. In the end it all amounts to the same thing our bodies and our dignity just cant take it.
Work overload includes:
Long and difficult hours
Unreasonable work demands
Pressure to work overtime (paid and unpaid)
Fewer rest breaks, days off and holidays
Faster, more pressured work pace
Performance monitoring
Unrealistic expectations
Additional, often inappropriate, tasks imposed on top of core duties (doing more than one job)
No replacements during sick leaves or vacations
There are compelling examples that point to a national crisis with work overload. But its been a CUPE member in Calgary who has paid the highest price. Brother Willy, a custodian for the Calgary Public School Board and a member of Local 40, maintained a diary of his plight with excessive workload and increasing cutbacks.
Work overload can result in serious problems, including:
Musculoskeletal injuries
Fatigue and related accidents
Gastrointestinal disorders
Increased exposure to health and safety hazards such as noise, temperature extremes and hazardous substances
We have to begin to work together and say NO to work overload. Its important to establish that poor work organization by management is often behind the problem and that its not the fault of individual workers. In addition, locals should work to:
Challenge the power of management to pressure, encourage or allow employees to be overloaded at work. Remind employers of their obligation under health and safety legislation to take all reasonable precautions for a safe workplace.
Pressure government health and safety officers to look seriously at the health and safety effects of chronic work overload, and to devise strategies to address the problem.
Act collectively to ensure safe workloads and working arrangements. Begin local community debates about the health and safety (and social) consequences of excessive workloads and working hours. CUPEs Health and Safety Branch, with the help of the National Health and Safety Committee, is stepping up its efforts to tackle workload and overwork. CUPE members in Manitoba have been surveyed to gauge the impact of growing workloads and a plan to tackle the issue is being developed. If were going to make progress in our struggle to protect sustainable workloads, were going to have to do several things: Recognize excessive workload as an occupational health and safety issue; Raise awareness of the health and safety consequences of workload/overwork among CUPE locals;
Inform CUPE members about their rights to a safe and healthy workplace, free from the health hazards of overwork; and Alert employers that CUPE is committed to eliminating the health and safety threats posed by overwork and increasing workloads. As well, we must put pressure on governments to develop and enact preventative occupational health and safety legislation on workload. The legislative changes could include prohibitions on overwork, the right for joint occupational health and safety committees to investigate and resolve workload-related health and safety complaints and a clear right to refuse to work in situations where workload compromises a workers health and safety. We cannot sit by and let employers continue to increase the spiral of injuries to our members. For Brother Willy, the consequences of work overload were simply too much to bear. According to Albertas Chief Medical Examiner, Brother Willy died on November 28, 1998 of carbon monoxide poisoning. The handwritten note he left for his family read: Call security BofE... Tell Willy wont be in on Monday. Send sick relief. I am in the garage. Call Police.
Quotes from Brother Willys Diary
November 7, 1998
I feel so alone and am scared to go back to work. Everything is so overwhelming to me. I dont know what to do. Everything over the last 2-3 years was too much for me 15 years of cutbacks with the Board of Education, especially end of June 98. I am just hanging in for dear life (overwhelming).
November 15, 1998
Sunday. Very quiet day. Back to work tomorrow. I am scared of the place. Just too much work feel I cannot fail them. No support from management. Theyre not to be seen and heard from. Like they dont even exist. No support or care about the fieldworkers that is what gets me down like that. I hope I can hang in there.
November 19, 1998
Pressure at work is relentless I dont know if its worthwhile to wait for (pension) work all your life and then this Board of Education working the shit out of everybody with 60-70 people on sick a day and with only 34 or 36 sick relief.
November 22, 1998
I will go back to work tomorrow but I am scared, terrified of this workload and to keep it up. Pain in my chest for some time. I will do what I can.
November 25, 1998
In paper and TV, Board of Education cutting back some more due to money problems. Where is this going? Personally cannot possibly keep up now (no support, no help, feel I am left to dry out on a limb). I dont know how to survive at this stage.
November 26, 1998
Informed today further cut back by Board of Education possibly lose Cleaner I. I think this is it. I cant go on like this. The stress is terrible. Have chest pain and shakes really hard to hold myself together. Rest of staff all upset.
November 28, 1998
I cant stop thinking about Board of Education talk in the news and paper. This seems really to affect me the most. I get the shakes when I think about it.
Canadian Union of Public Employees
21 Florence St., Ottawa ON K2P 0W6
613 237 1590 (phone) 613 237 5508 (fax)
Send us your feedback
Copyright CUPE 2001 Search CUPE

New federal code strengthens health and safety protection
The Canada Labour Code has been amended and thats good news for CUPE members under federal jurisdiction. Flight attendants and workers in power generation, telecommunications and ports will benefit from expanded rights to refuse unsafe work, improved protection against violence and strengthened health and safety committees. The amendments are the first in fifteen years and the result of seven years of consultations in which staff from CUPEs Health and Safety Branch played an active role. CUPE members working under federal jurisdiction will have vastly improved health and safety protection, said National President Judy Darcy. Although the Code covers only certain CUPE members, the amended legislation provides a model for provincial jurisdictions in its approach to regulating occupational health and safety. The new legislation is the result of countless hours of discussion and negotiations among organized labour, employers and the federal government. Hundreds of proposals were considered and in the end labour and employers were able to reach consensus on the majority of the most important initiatives. In the few areas where no consensus was reached, the federal government made decisions unilaterally. Most, but not all, of these decisions were acceptable to labour. The amendments reflect labours belief that increased worker participation in decisions that effect their health and safety will lead to improved working conditions. The Labour Codes major improvements include: Right to Refuse - Workers who exercise their right to refuse dangerous work will have the right to select a person from the workplace to participate in the investigation when a member of the workplace health and safety committee is not available. Workers who refuse work will continue to receive their pay until the end of their shift or normal work period. Discipline cases arising from right to refuse cases can be appealed to the Canada Industrial Relations Board. Protection for Pregnant and Nursing Workers - Women who believe the workplace presents a danger to themselves, their foetus, or, in the case of nursing mothers, their baby, will have the right to withdraw from work that is harmful. They will not lose pay or benefits but a physicians certificate must be obtained. The employer can reassign the worker to another safe job. Until now, Quebec was the only North American jurisdiction with legislated health and safety protection for pregnant and nursing workers. Violence in the Workplace - The legislation requires employers to take specific steps to prevent and protect against violence in the workplace. CUPE is participating on two working groups that have nearly completed the drafting of separate regulations on prevention programs and workplace violence under the new Code. Workplace Health and Safety Committees - These committees will now have expanded roles and responsibilities. In addition to their duty to regularly inspect their workplaces, they will have responsibility for the investigation and resolution of health and safety complaints. If the committee cannot come to an agreement, a government safety officer intervenes. Policy Health and Safety Committees - In addition to joint Workplace Health and Safety Committees, industries with 300 or more employees will be required to set up policy committees to ensure that workers at different job sites enjoy the same protection. The committees will play a role in developing occupational health and safety related prevention programs; investigations, studies and inspections; and assessment of personal protective equipment. With a mandate to emphasize prevention, the policy committees will help ensure that health and safety concerns are addressed at the highest management levels. The new Code provides workers with the most up-to-date legislative tools for injury and illness prevention. But its benefits will be felt only if it is rigorously enforced. In the coming months and years, CUPE will be promoting awareness of the amendments and assisting members to exercise their rights to a safe and healthy workplace. Copies of the Amendments to the Canada Labour Code Part II, which are contained in Bill C-12, can be found at the Human Resources Development Canada web site.
Copies of the Bill as well as CUPEs submission to Parliament can also be obtained by contacting the Health and Safety Branch or by calling (613) 237-1590.
Canadian Union of Public Employees
21 Florence St., Ottawa ON K2P 0W6
613 237 1590 (phone) 613 237 5508 (fax)

CUPE members and staff across the country observed the National Day of Mourning for workers injured or killed on the job on April 28. On average, 900 Canadian workers are killed each year on the job. More than one million are injured. The Day of Mourning began as a result of the actions of CUPEs National Health and Safety Committee. It was born because of the needless injuries and deaths that happen each and every day, when employers are negligent or governments fail to enforce laws. April 28 is now observed around the world as unions lead the struggle for improved working conditions, dignity and respect on the job. It offers us an opportunity to stand together with the worlds workers, to reaffirm our solidarity and commitment to occupational health and safety and to say clearly that we "mourn for the dead, but fight like hell for the living."
On this day, we remember those CUPE members killed on the job in the past year. Nazair Arsenault, CUPE 1000 (Ontario), was electrocuted on the job; Leslie Lucas, CUPE 108 (Nova Scotia), suffered a fatal allergic reaction to a bee sting while working with a maintenance crew; Grant Atkinson, CUPE 228 (Manitoba), was killed after falling from a scaffold; Marc Desforges, CUPE 4545 (Quebec), died while cleaning a sand spreader for sidewalks. Marc was working alone. And Lennard Blanco, CUPE 500 (Manitoba), was killed when a branch fell on his head as he was topping trees. New federal health and safety legislation that will improve workers right to refuse dangerous work will be law by the end of June. Bill C-12 represents six years of work by CUPEs Health and Safety Branch working with the CLC, other labour representatives, employer groups and the federal government. And, keeping the momentum going, work is now underway to plan the 8th national health and safety conference. The conference will focus on building activist health and safety committees, workload, stress and violence.
Canadian Union of Public Employees
21 Florence St., Ottawa ON K2P 0W6
613 237 1590 (phone) 613 237 5508 (fax)
Send us your feedback
Copyright CUPE 2001 Search CUPE

Safety expert calls for more fire doors in schools
Tue, Oct 30, 2001
By Nick Martin
MANITOBA public schools should be spending $600,000 to install fire doors on every portable classroom connected to the main school building, according to the province's school safety expert. Two fires in school portables late this summer show the need for fire doors in the more than 200 portable classrooms attached to schools around the province, Keith Thomas, risk manager for the Manitoba Association of School Trustees, said. Arsonists who set fire to portables caused about $1 million damage to H.S. Paul School in St. Vital, but only $200,000 to Maple Leaf School in River East, Thomas said. The difference was that Maple Leaf had a fire door between the portable and the passageway to the main school building. "Many (portables) are connected to the school by a passageway. There was a good fire door between the portable and the school" at Maple Leaf, he said. "A good fire door would give you at least three-quarters of an hour. If the portable burns, the damage to the school could be lessened a lot." Thomas estimated that 95 per cent of Manitoba's portables are attached to schools by covered passageways, but very few have fire doors, which cost about $3,000. Thomas is also urging that school divisions increase their insurance loss pool from $800,000 to $1.5 million to offset industry-wide premium hikes in the wake of an expected $60 billion (U.S.) payouts following last month's terrorist attacks in the U.S. Manitoba school divisions pay $2 million annually in insurance premiums, but also set aside a pool of $800,000 to share province-wide the risk of claims -- in effect, they establish a deductible that keeps premiums from going even higher. In a good year, what's left of the $800,000 is refunded, Thomas said. This year, "There's no money left to be rebated, we've had so many losses." Thomas is uncertain how high premiums will jump for next year, but said setting $1.5 million aside would keep the additional money here for possible rebates rather than sending it to an insurer in Toronto. In budgeting, he said, "Every bit hurts," but insurance costs are something that school boards can't cut.

Board paying for fire doors
Tuesday Nov 20,2001
The provincial public schools finance board notified Winnipeg School Division that it will pay for fire doors at portables being installed at Cecil Rhodes and Clifton schools as part of a new province-wide safety program. But, said PSFB chair Ben Zaidman, the province won't pay to upgrade existing portables. There are about three dozen portables in the division, chief superintendent Jack Smyth said last night. "When you look across the province, it would be a huge cost." Manitoba Association of School Trustees risk manager Keith Thomas recently credited fire doors between portables and the main building at Maple Leaf School in River East School Division for preventing significant damage in an arson. There was far more damage at a similar portable fire deliberately set at H.S. Paul School in St. Vital, which did not have fire doors.
Trustee Betty Granger asked last night for a report on the cost of the division's installing fire doors on its three dozen older portables.

Kelowna school workers death could have been prevented
A Workers Compensation Board report backs up CUPE 3523 president Bill Zemans claim that just 15 minutes of safety training could have saved the life of a member.Pat Mullan, 56, died in August after falling from an elementary school roof where he had been repairing a skylight. The WCB report noted that Mullan had never received proper extensionladder training.We have been demanding for years that the WCB and the Kelowna school board do more to address safety violations, Zeman said. But our presentations have been ignored.He cited other incidents where members have suffered broken backs, amputations and other serious injuries. It should not take a death to drive home the obvious: we are unsafe in our school workplaces.
Canadian Union of Public Employees
21 Florence St., Ottawa ON K2P 0W6
613 237 1590 (phone) 613 237 5508 (fax)
Send us your feedback
Copyright CUPE 2001

Benefits won't be reinstated for women who remarried prior to 1985
NDP rejects survivor pension plan
Sat, Oct 27, 2001
By Helen Fallding
THE NDP government has refused to reinstate survivor pensions for some women who remarried after their husbands were killed on the job -- despite having backed the idea when the party was in opposition. Alvina Bartlett, whose first husband was electrocuted in 1961, was notified of the decision Thursday in a letter from Labour Minister Becky Barrett. "I am appalled that our government when they were in opposition would be supportive and then when they have the opportunity to go ahead and correct the inequity that the previous government made, that they decide that the previous government made the right decision," Bartlett said. In 1999, the former Tory government reinstated workers compensation benefits for women who remarried after 1985, when the Canadian Charter of Rights came into effect. Bartlett and 118 other widows who remarried before 1985 were instead offered a lump sum payment of $83,000, which she refused to accept on principle. The money represents only about half of the retroactive pension Bartlett was entitled to, let alone what she should be eligible for in ongoing support, her lawyer, Bryan Schwartz, said yesterday. He said Bartlett and other widows have the option of suing the province on the basis of discriminatory treatment compared to the post-1985 widows. Similar court cases in other provinces have had mixed results, but the Supreme Court of Canada has not dealt with the issue. The news comes as Barrett is reviewing the Workplace Safety and Health Act. A spokesman for Barrett said other provinces either reinstated pensions or offered lump sum payments -- not both. Schwartz challenged that rationale, noting that some provinces reinstated benefits retroactively. The lump sum partially compensates for benefits lost since 1985, but not for future benefits, he said. Some widows accepted the lump sum payment because they were desperate for cash -- one told Bartlett she could not afford new glasses, dentures and a walker without it. Since 1992, the Workers Compensation Board only supports widows for five years after a workplace death.

We hope to keep you informed on WHS issues.
OSHA Fact Sheets 01/01/1996 - Silica Dust Exposures Can Cause Silicosis OSHA Fact Sheets - Table of Contents Record Type: Fact Sheets Subject: Silica Dust Exposures Can Cause Silicosis Information Date: 01/01/1996 Fact Sheet: 96-54 U.S. Department of Labor Program Highlights Fact Sheet No. OSHA 96-54 SILICA DUST EXPOSURES CAN CAUSE SILICOSIS Every year two million workers in the U.S. are exposed to crystalline silica, which can cause silicosis, a disabling and sometimes fatal disease. About 300 deaths are attributed to silicosis annually. Inhaling airborne crystalline silica dust also has been associated with other diseases such as tuberculosis and lung cancer. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is determined to reduce the potential threat of silicosis. Crystalline silica has been identified as a priority rulemaking action. In the meantime, OSHA is conducting a national special emphasis program on silicosis to inform employers and employees about the occurrence and hazards of crystalline silica and ways to reduce exposure to the dust. The 25 states and territories that operate their own occupational safety and health programs have been encouraged to launch similar special emphasis activities on silicosis. Crystalline silica, also known as quartz, is a natural compound in the earth's crust and is a basic component of sand and granite. Silicosis is a disease of the lungs caused by breathing dust containing crystalline silica particles. The dust can cause fibrosis or scar tissue formations in the lungs that reduce the lungs' ability to work to extract oxygen from the air. There is no cure for this disease, thus prevention is the only answer. SYMPTOMS OF SILICOSIS Early stages of the disease may go unnoticed. Continued exposure may result in a shortness of breath on exercising, possible fever and occasionally bluish skin at the ear lobes or lips. Silicosis makes a person more susceptible to infectious diseases of the lungs such as tuberculosis. Progression of silicosis leads to fatigue, extreme shortness of breath, loss of appetite, pain in the chest, and respiratory failure, which may cause death. Acute silicosis may develop after short periods of exposure. Chronic silicosis usually occurs after 10 or more years of exposure to lower levels of quartz. WHERE ARE EMPLOYEES EXPOSED TO CRYSTALLINE SILICA DUST? The most severe worker exposures to crystalline silica result from sandblasting. In general industry, the sandblasting may be done to clean sand and irregularities from foundry castings, finish tombstones, etch or frost glass, or remove paint, oils, rust or dirt from objects that will be repainted or treated. Other exposures to dust from sand in general industry employment occur in cement manufacturing, asphalt pavement manufacturing, and the foundry industry. Crystalline silica is used in the electronics industry and in manufacturing abrasives, paints, soaps, and glass. Calcined diatomaceous earth, often contaminated with crystalline silica, can be used for filtration in a variety of applications. In the construction industry, sandblasting may be done to remove paint and rust from stone buildings, metal bridges, tanks, and other surfaces. Other construction activities that may produce crystalline silica dust include jack hammer operations, rock/well drilling, concrete mixing, concrete tunneling, and brick and concrete block cutting and sawing. Tunneling operations, repair or replacement of linings of rotary kilns and cupola furnaces; and setting, laying, and repairing railroad track also are potential sources of exposure. In the maritime industry, exposure to crystalline silica occurs primarily in abrasive blasting operations such as in removing bottom fouling organisms from paint. Employers are required to provide and assure the use of appropriate controls for crystalline silica-containing dust. OSHA has a Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL), which is the maximum amount of airborne crystalline silica that an employee may be exposed to during a work shift. Employers are to use all available engineering controls such as water sprays, blasting cabinets, and ventilation of containment structures. WHAT CAN EMPLOYEES DO TO LIMIT THEIR EXPOSURE TO CRYSTALLINE SILICA? * Be aware of the health effects of crystalline silica and that smoking adds to the damage. * Know the work operations where exposure to crystalline exposure may occur. * Participate in any air monitoring or training programs offered by the employer. * Use type CE positive pressure abrasive blasting respirators for sandblasting. * For other operations where respirators may be required, use a respirator approved for protection against crystalline silica-containing dust. Do not alter the respirator in any way. Workers who use tight-fitting respirators cannot have beards or mustaches which interfere with the respirator seal to the face. * If possible, change into disposable or washable work clothes at the worksite; shower (where available) and change into clean clothing before leaving the worksite. * Do not eat, drink, use tobacco products, or apply cosmetics in areas where there is dust containing crystalline silica. * Wash your hands and face before eating, drinking, smoking, or applying cosmetics outside of the exposure area.

CUPE 3745 supports a safe and healthy workplace