Category Archives: Recent Activities

What WisCOSH has been up to lately.

Worker’s Memorial Day 2013

On Sunday, April 28, 2013 WisCOSH will join together with workers, advocates and employers to both “Mourn for the Dead” and “Fight Like Hell for the Living“. You are invited to join us in Milwaukee, WI at the events.

  1. Fight Like Hell for the Living

    WisCOSH is hosting a fundraiser Chili Dinner and a discussion on current and proposed actions at the State and Federal levels which are or may have an effect on worker and/or workplace safety and health. There have been a number of proposed laws and changes to laws which is, will or could impact workers lives and livelihood. There is no cost to attend and participate in this discussion. Rep. Gwen Moore, Sen. Tammy Baldwin, Mayor Tom Barrett among others have been invited to speak.

    This year WisCOSH will host a lunchtime Chili Dinner which will include 2 kinds of chili [vegetarian, meat], fixings [cheese, peppers, crackers, hot sauces], homemade cornbread and desserts. A variety of beverages will also be available. Please notify WisCOSH in advance if possible if you need the vegetarian dinner so that we can ensure there will be enough.

    The cost for the meal is $10 paid in advance or $12.50 at the door. Children’s meal is $5. Checks or money orders can be sent to: WisCOSH Office & Worker Training center, 1535 W. Mitchell St., Milwaukee, WI 53204. If you want/need to pay in cash please call (414) 933-2338 before coming to the office to ensure someone is available to help you as the office is only open for limited hours during remodeling.

    After the meal and discussion WisCOSH will lead a procession over to Zeidler Union Square Park for the commemmoration event.

  2. Mourn for the Dead

    Workers are invited to gather at Zeidler Union Square Park and commemmorate those workers lost to workplace incident or exposures in 2012. Sheila Cochran of the Milwaukee Area Labor Council will be the Master of Ceremonies. A number of speakers have been invited to speak including Rep. Gwen Moore, Mayor Tom Barrett and Milwaukee County DA John Chisholm. WisCOSH will read the names of those workers known to have died due to workplace incident or from workplace exposure as well as the names of those military personnel from WI that were killed while deployed followed by a moment of silence and candlelight vigil.

Watch this space for updates or visit WisCOSH‘s Facebook Page Events for updates and further information. WisCOSH Worker’s Memorial Day flier

WisCOSH Website 3.0 Now Live

For nearly a year WisCOSH has been working on it’s web presence to better serve it’s membership and workers in general. WisCOSH has redesigned it’s website to better take advantage of HTML5 and it’s native support for audio, video and more. This is the third major design iteration WisCOSH has launched since first going online in 1999. At the same time WisCOSH has worked on integrating it’s weblog, website, Facebook page and other social media sites in order to provide OHS information where ever workers are.

WisCOSH has been able to do the research and redesign thanks to a grant from the Public Welfare Foundation through the National COSH. WisCOSH would like to thank those of you who participated in our Beta Testing of the new design. Your input has been invaluable in determining design usability under various browsers [IE (6, 7, 8, 9], Firefox [3.x, 4, 5, 6-17], Opera [8, 9, 10, 11, 12] Chrome, …], different Operating Systems [Windows, OSX, Linux, Unix, …] as well as versions [Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7/8; Ubuntu, Redhat, Mint; …] and numerous portable devices and phones. WisCOSH plans to continue to expand and refine it’s presence on the Internet in order to meet the needs of workers, their representatives and employers in making all of Wisconsin’s workplaces safer and healthier. Please feel free to contact us and let us know how we are doing and what you need, find valuable or frivolous.

KK River Project

Over this past summer and fall WisCOSH has received a number of phone calls concerning work being done as part of the KK River Project. WisCOSH has made several attempts to find work being done but until this week had not come upon an “active worksite” – meaning that work was taking place at the time of visitation. What WisCOSH investigators found is quite alarming.

Upon arriving on the scene it was immediately noted that workers were being exposed to numerous safety hazards: work performed at height without personal fall protection, workers not wearing head protection while working below other workers, workers leaning out of windows working on the outside of the building without fall protection or head protection, ladders improperly set up and unsecured and more. WisCOSH attempted to engage workers and find out more about their working conditions, training and supervision. The workers refused to verbally answer. Pictures and video were taken to document the actions taking place.

While surveying the worksite and the work being done it was noticed that the dumpster onsite was labeled as to be used for disposing hazardous materials – asbestos – and the investigators became alarmed. The materials the workers were ripping off the side of the building were not being handled appropriately if they were in fact asbestos and it was readily apparent that the building was not being lead abated either.

After one investigator asked a worker about the work being done, the manner in which it was being done, their training and qualifications to perform the work, if there was a supervisor or crew leader present and who their employer was the investigator was attacked – a large piece of siding was purposely thrown at the investigator and smashed on the sidewalk in a huge cloud of dust. There was a work truck onsite but it had no owner or business name on it, phone number, business address or DOT number. WisCOSH attempted to look-up the name on the vehicle but got not results for any current business.

WisCOSH continued it’s investigation by attempting to contact someone in City, County, State or Federal agencies to get more information concerning the work currently being done, scheduled upcoming work and locations, employer/contractor, what permits were pulled and when, etc. The Milwaukee OSHA Office was notified of the imminent danger to the workers and responded that they would try to get someone there. The WI DNR was also contacted. Attempts were made to talk with someone from the City of Milwaukee as well as Milwaukee County with no positive outcomes.

WisCOSH continued it’s investigation by securing, bagging, labeling and documenting samples from the worksite. WisCOSH investigators also spoke with several residents of the neighborhood that told investigators of several other similar “active” worksites which WisCOSH then visited and secured samples from. WisCOSH will be taking in the first sample for analysis this afternoon.

Worksite Overview Worker Hazards Up Close Worker Exposure – Alternate Angle Hazardous Waste Dumpster Whose Work Truck Is This?

Welcome To Toolbox Talks!

Welcome to the relaunching and repurposing of WisCOSH’s blog. It is our intention to facilitate communication between Wisconsin’s workers, employers, communities and State and Federal agencies about workplace safety & health issues affecting them. WisCOSH hopes to post information here on a timely basis so that you have the ability to have greater input and influence over the workplace health and safety issues you face.

To that end the WisCOSH Website has been undergoing some remodeling and updating. WisCOSH is working to ensure that it’s website is compatible with  modern methods of interacting with it. WisCOSH has always striven to make it’s information available regardless of the means of accessing it. There are many new technologies enabling just that. WisCOSH is asking your input on our success in doing so.

While the website has been undergoing  major recoding [from XHTML 1 to HTML5] to take advantage of the many new capabilities our current website has not been updated in a long time. Neither has this blog. Starting today WisCOSH plans to rectify that by posting short, relevant articles here that will inform and encourage participation. Lots has been happening in regards to workplace health and safety and much more is on the horizon. WisCOSH hopes to be able to include more audio and video where appropriate.

Please leave a comment on what you like or don’t like about this blog, what you’d like to see covered here and how WisCOSH can better help you come home from work at least as healthy as when you left. If you have a chance please visit our beta release of the website [available at http://www.wiscosh.org/beta] and come back and let us know how it works for you. Visit us from your desktop, laptop, tablet, Blackberry or smartphone and let us know how well it works for you.

Cecil Roberts [UMWA President] at National Worker Health and Safety Summit and Conference

“Don Blankenship Can Kiss My Ass!”

During the National Worker Safety & Health Conference and Summit lunch hour break UMWA President Cecil Roberts spoke to the workers, union leadership and OHS professionals and activists assembled about the recently released report, it’s findings concerning the Big Branch Mine explosion, and worker safety and health on the job. Mr. Roberts doesn’t mince words and laid the blame directly at Don Blankenship’s feet and the feet of the other Executive Officers and the members of the Board of Directors for Massey Energy.

I started to take video, but had not set my camera correctly and got a still shot instead. The National COSH had set up the event to be streamed live on Livestream.com. In theory this was a great idea. However in practice Mr. Robberts is not one to be standing still for very long. Once I realized this I switched to video. I was able to get 2 short clips [1, 2] which I hope you will enjoy while waiting the release of the footage captured by the National COSH.

Workers are lucky to have such leaders in these times. But it takes more than leaders to make the changes we need. The leaders need workers to join them. To do this we need to make sure workers understand what is going on, what’s at stake and what alternatives there are.

It’s high time workers banded together and go visit the Pharoh’s in their community and demand they do the right thing!
If there is an employer that is paying wages below the living standard and only employes part time work they need to change their ways.
If there is an employer that says it’s too expensive to keep the workers from getting injured, made ill or killed on the job they need to change their ways.
If there is an employer that requires workers who are ill to come to work to keep their job and thereby put other workers, customers and vendors at risk of becoming ill they need to change their ways.

It’s time to stand up, stand together and say “NO More!

Thanks For Stopping By!

I would like to thank all of you who have stopped by WisCOSH whether in person or at our website or this blog. This past summer WisCOSH has had many new visitors to our website, to this blog and the many events that WisCOSH hosted, participated in, spoke at and those WisCOSH visited. Especially Worker’s Memorial Day in April, Share-A-Meal with Community Shares of Greater Milwaukee, Laborfest 2008 and the many training classes WisCOSH held.

Speaking of training classes I’d like to thank our newest trainer with helping with the investigation, planning and implimenting of several of WisCOSH’s new training programs. Namely our new Emergency Planning; Dealing With Violence in the Workplace : The Silent Epidemic; Focus Four Hazards for Building and Construction Trades Workers and Identifying Hazards In Your Workplace trainings.  The added areas in work experience has opened many new venues for WisCOSH to help workers.  WisCOSH has held most of these training sessions over the summer and had good response from those in attendance.

I would also like to thank those of you who came to WisCOSH for help in dealing with workplace safety and health situations you are facing. And there have been a growing number throughout the year. Continue to work with your coworkers to document unsafe working situations. Please remember to check in once in a while to keep WisCOSH updated on the progress and let us know if there is more that WisCOSH can do to help.

Planning Started for WisCOSH Annual Membership Meeting & Dinner

While a date has not yet been set WisCOSH has begun planning some very special activities to commemorate 30 years of helping workers and businesses make workplaces safer and healthier. WisCOSH is looking to have a very special evening this year for our Annual Membership Meeting & Dinner this fall.

As  a part of our 30th year commemoration WisCOSH is holding a design contest for possible use on t-shirts, posters, coffee mugs and perhaps even the WisCOSH website. WisCOSH will be posting the details of the contest soon so check back to find out how, when and where to submit your artwork and designs.

3rd Quarter for Vulnerable Workers Training Grant Ends

The 3rd Quarter of the long running, Dept. of Labor funded (via OSHA’s Susan Harwood  Institutional Competency Building Grant program), Vulnerable Workers Training Grant ended June 30th, 2008 and WisCOSH was able to provide training to over 260 people since April 1st!

During this quarter WisCOSH was able to provide training and information on worker’s workplace safety and health rights and how to use them to a wide range of workers. Some were new workers (teens), some were mature workers returning to new a profession, some had been in the workforce for a long time working in high risk industries and some were workers who worked mostly or solely from temporary placement agencies. Some had a union in their workplace, most did not. WisCOSH provided them all with information about what their rights are under the Occupational Safety & Health Act, how to use them to help make their workplaces safer and healthier and how to prevent retaliation in the workplace because they used their rights.

In this last quarter of our 8th year of the grant WisCOSH wants to provide training to even more workers. The training is FREE! Every attendee receives a folder with information, contact phone numbers and websites where they can attain more information or help.There are many different trainings that are available as a part of this grant. Some of them include : Your Basic OSHA Rights; Workplace Safety & Health Rights for Teen Workers; Identifying Hazards In The Workplace; Respiratory Protection Plan for Nursing Homes, Community Based Residential Facilities, Day Care and Other Long Term Care Facilities. If you would like to know more about how you can participate in a class contact training@wiscosh.org and we will let you know how you can host or join a training class. WisCOSH works with unions, worker centers, businesses and anyone concerned about their safety in the workplace.

Vulnerable Worker’s Grant Training

Although it got a late start to it this year WisCOSH has been continuing to provide training and outreach to vulnerable workers under OSHA’s Susan Harwood Grant. WisCOSH has many training classes available under this grant including : Basic OSHA Rights; Workplace Safety & Health Rights for Teen Workers; Identifying Workplace Hazards & Body Mapping; Employer Recordkeeping Requirements Under OSHA as well as many other specific topic hazard training classes [such as Ergonomics, Starting a Health & Safety Committee in Your Workplace, Understanding OSHA’s HazComm Program and more!].

Why did WisCOSH get such a late start this year? Like so many other things last year it was due to the Federal Budget process. The line item which funded the DOL funded OSHA Susan Harwood Institutional Competency Building Grant was removed and no progress on returning it was made until late December 2007. Unfortunately there were no changes made to the timeline of the grant so even though the RFP was not released until January 2008 the grant period remained October 1, 2007 to September 30, 2008. There was an attempt to change the grant and make it a larger version of the DOL funded OSHA Susan Harwood Targeted Training Topic Grant. The budgetary law that provided the funding didn’t attempt this, but rather the agency appointees did.

Each year under the Targeted Training Topic Grant OSHA identifies a number of topics which tend to be focused on a particular issue within a particular occupation. The Susan Harwood ICB Grant has been a catch all training program which reaches out to all workers, in all occupations and has the ability to train workers on a variety of occupational safety and health topics. It is complementary to the Targeted Training Topic Grant in it’s scope of who can be trained and on what subjects. Therefore it is able to reach an even greater audience and provide additional information and training. This information and training generally reaches workers who may be immigrants, workers whose primary language may not be English, are new workers to an industry or teens who have little to no prior work experience or frame of reference. These are also workers who work in OSHA identified high hazard occupations. Many of these workers have little to no access to the information due to not have a computer nor access to one. Many workers who do have access to a computer may not have Internet access. Many workers who have a computer and Internet access still have little idea on where to find, or how to understand, the information they would receive in the training classes WisCOSH holds.

Focus Four Hazard Training for Building & Construction Trade Workers

WisCOSH has joined Central New York COSH (CNYCOSH) on their Susan Harwood Targeted Topic Training Grant. WisCOSH is replacing a COSH group that had to drop out. This is WisCOSH’s first partnership with CNYCOSH and will be working with NYCOSH (New York City COSH) and ConnectiCOSH to provide training to B&C Trade Workers on OSHA’s identified most common hazards for B&C workers in the workplace.

In May WisCOSH sent three representatives to New York to meet with the other partners to review the materials produced by NYCOSH for use in these trainings. Several areas needing special attention were identified and resolutions found.

Since returning WisCOSH has been working on finalizing the curricula for the classes and ensuring that all materials needed will be available. Shortly WisCOSH will begin holding classes in Milwaukee and around the state. If your union or company would like more information please check our trainings page on the website and contact WisCOSH.