When we protect the health of workers, we are protecting the health of their families, their communities and the environment. And when enforce smart environmental protections, we can drive innovation, create jobs, and help to build a cleaner, more efficient, and more competitive American economy so that workers have more safe jobs making safer products.
The Gulf Coast oil spill, in April 2010, was a prime example of the link between workplace, environmental and public health. The largest oil spill in our nation’s history began with an explosion that killed 11 workers on a BP oil platform off the Gulf of Mexico. As a result, more than 200 million gallons of oil spewed into the Gulf, dramatically impacting wildlife and the economic livelihood of those who live in the area. To clean up the spill, hundreds of thousands of gallons of dispersants were sprayed in Gulf waters, the impact of which on the health of cleanup workers and the surrounding environment may not be known for a long time.
The Workplace, Environmental and Public Health program of the BlueGreen Alliance is focused on fixing the causes of these related problems.
Key to addressing these problems is improving our chemicals and workplace safety protections in the United States. Right now, the laws governing the protection of the public against toxic chemicals and protecting employees in the workplace are outdated and antiquated, and as a result, are ineffective at protecting workers, public health and the environment. Meanwhile, efforts are underfoot to further weaken existing protections.
ChemHAT (Chemical Hazard and Alternatives Toolbox)
Workers wanting safer chemicals in their workplaces have a new tool to help them thanks to the release of ChemHAT (Chemical Hazard and Alternatives Toolkit) . This free website — jointly created by the IUE-CWA (the industrial division of the Communications Workers of America) and BlueGreen Alliance — is a database of 10,000 commonly used chemicals that includes information about their acute and chronic health effects. Check out the database here and learn about our future plans for it here.
Also learn about the BlueGreen Alliance's use of ChemHAT in our Putting Breast Cancer Out of Work Initiative here.
Chemical and Occupational Health and Safety
In 2010, the BlueGreen Alliance outlined principles for chemicals policy, chemical security and occupational safety and health, which include requiring full information and transparency on workplace injuries and accidents and health and environmental hazards of chemicals; giving the government agencies like the EPA and OSHA the power to protect the public from dangerous chemicals and improve workplace safety, and flexibility of safety and health claw to adapt to scientific findings, adopt new methodologies and respond to new problems. Read more.