Safety Corner – Spring 2020

Updates and information from UWUA's National Safety Director Scotty MacNeill

Emergency Response!

As every UWUA member knows, prior planning prevents poor performance. While no one could have known that a pandemic was on the way, less than a year ago, the UWUA had the foresight to establish the National Safety Committee with representatives from every industry in each of our five regions. The Safety Committee is dedicated to sharing resources and insights that empower UWUA members to protect themselves and their peers while they are on the job.

National Safety Committee On It!

Having the National Safety Committee already in place made it possible to respond to COVID-19 in an organized, systematic fashion to protect our members and the public we serve. This is another example of how we are living up to the motto: “We are the safest, most productive, highest skilled workers in the world.” And we should all take pride in that.

When the coronavirus hit, the Safety Committee immediately responded with a survey, reaching out to the leadership of every local to coordinate and disseminate information and keep them updated on Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines. Topping the list of concerns was securing a copy of each employers’ pandemic plan and, where there was none, helping create it. Committee members then reviewed the plans with local leaders to make sure they met state and federal requirements.

Through the survey, locals have made it known that they are looking for training and education on COVID-19. We are now in the process of working with the National Union to develop learning tools that will be shared nationally.

The National Safety Committee supported local leadership in urging employers to implement measures that protect our members while they are on the job. And, when necessary, the Safety Committee worked with local leaders to get employers to examine sick leave and remote work policies as well as safety procedures and essential staffing plans.

Committee members also developed a COVID-19 Visitor Questionnaire to screen all visitors prior to entry into company facilities.

Working closely with the committee, the UWUA’s Communications Department set up a COVID-19 resource page on the National Union’s website – https://uwua.net/covid/– to share the latest federal and industry tools to support members performing work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among the resources on the website are links to:

  • Core Principles for Worker and Community-Centered Pandemic Response
  • Overview of Hazard Assessments for COVID-19
  • COVID-19 Member Guidance and Recommendations
  • Safety Message – Tip Sheet
  • Employer Site Visitor Questionnaire
  • Letter from AFL-CIO to Lawmakers Urging Worker Protections (April 16, 2020)
  • Respirators, masks & face shields
  • A video message overview from UWUA President James Slevin
  • In Memoriam – Honoring Those We’ve Lost to COVID-19

Members are urged to visit the resource page and sign-up for e-news alerts to stay up-to-date on safety news.

We are in just the first inning of what will be a long, hard battle to contain the coronavirus while continuing to safely provide essential services throughout our nation. We’ve learned a lot and have set up systems to address the challenges COVID-19 presents. But we have a long way to go. We will continue to do whatever it takes to protect our members and the public.

We should all take pride in the fact that, because we were prepared to address safety issues on a national level before the outbreak of the pandemic, we were able to save lives.

Stay Safe. Stay Healthy.