» Work environment

AFSCME Health & Safety Fact Sheet: Work Zone Traffic Safety

Each year AFSCME members die or are seriously injured when vehicles crash through traffic control devices and enter a work zone. Workers are also struck by equipment operating within the work area. Repairing streets and bridges, cleaning catch basins, and rebuilding manholes are examples of tasks that require workers to share the road with other vehicles. Read More

AFSCME Health & Safety Fact Sheet: Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis (TB) is a bacterial disease that can affect several parts of the body. The most common form of TB disease is pulmonary (lung) tuberculosis, which can cause severe damage to the lungs, disability, and death. The symptoms include fever, fatigue, night sweats and dramatic weight loss. Coughing up blood, severe chest pain and hoarseness appear in the later stages of the disease. Read More

AFSCME Health & Safety Fact Sheet: Trenching and Excavation

A trench is a narrow channel that is deeper than it is wide. A trench can be up to 15 feet wide. An excavation is any hole or trench that is made by removing earth. Read More

AFSCME Health & Safety Fact Sheet: Staph Infection in the Correctional Facility

There are several types of staphylococcus bacteria that cause illness in people. The most common type is staphylococcus aureus, or staph aureus. It causes open sores (lesions) on the skin. If the infection is widespread, the skin lesions can lead to a variety of serious and even life-threatening conditions including pneumonia, lung abscess, sepsis (blood poisoning), meningitis (brain inflammation) or brain abscesses. Symptoms usually occur within 4 to 10 days, although the time is variable and indefinite. Read More

AFSCME Health & Safety Fact Sheet: Smallpox Vaccine: What Workers Need To Know

The federal smallpox vaccination policy is intended to inoculate health care workers and other emergency responders on a voluntary basis. It is a pre-event program, meaning the vaccinations are to be given before any smallpox cases appear. Approximately 500,000 health care workers are to be vaccinated in the first phase, followed by a second wave of an additional 10 million health care and other emergency responders. There has not been a smallpox case in the world since 1977, but the U.S. government has developed the vaccination program to protect against the possibility of an intentional release of smallpox. AFSCME has called for a delay in the vaccination program in order to address serious safety and workplace issues. Read More

AFSCME Health & Safety Fact Sheet: Silica

Silica causes disease when workers breathe in tiny silica particles that are released from rocks and ores. The particles are so small they can only be seen with a microscope. Read More

AFSCME Health & Safety Fact Sheet: Scabies

Scabies is a communicable disease of the skin that is caused by a tiny bug called a mite. The mites dig into the skin and lay their eggs. The mites can burrow beneath the skin surface in 2 ½ minutes. Symptoms include intense itching, especially at night. Sores can become infected from scratching. Read More

AFSCME Health & Safety Fact Sheet: Right to Know Laws

For many AFSCME members, exposure to serious health hazards is all in a day’s work. On-thejob exposure to chemicals, such as solvents, paints, disinfectants, fumes, dusts, sewer chemicals, cutting oils, pesticides, degreasers, and cleaning chemicals can make you sick and even kill you. Some chemicals may also pose safety hazards and have the potential to cause fires and explosions and other serious accidents. Read More

AFSCME Health & Safety Fact Sheet: Respirators

Federal law requires that engineering controls rather than respirators be used to solve air contamination problems. Nevertheless, respirators too often are used as a permanent solution. Some people hate the masks and figure that they’re worse off than before. Some even begin to feel that they would rather breath the dirty air. That puts the safety rep or committee in the middle. But this doesn’t have to be the end of the story. The more you know about respirators and their regulations, the more you can improve this type of situation. Read More

AFSCME Health & Safety Fact Sheet: Public Employee OSHA Laws

The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) became federal law over thirty years ago and created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA. The law was passed to guarantee workers a safe and healthful workplace. However, millions of state and local government workers are still not covered by basic job safety laws. Read More


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