Endangered species By Dellar Rushing The American Worker: An Endangered Species Franklin Wallick United Auto Workers \(800 E. Jefferson $1.20 Houston The most dangerous place to be in this ,country is the American work place. Of 80 million people working today, one in 20 will be injured on the job every year. So estimated Jerome Gordon, whose study on job accident reporting for the U.S. Department of Labor startled official Washington when it came out. In addition to what happens any one year, one must consider the slow-surfacing hazards such as beryllium \(which may take 20 years to and the makers of genetic damage. Franklin Wallick has undettaken to alarm us and then get us going. Being a more; but since only one in four workers is a union member, he recognizes that the informed individual worker must often be 24 The Texas Observer relied on, with the help of other reinforcements he calls up. BEING A bit of a Ralph Nader type, he makes a specific plea for the young and the bright to prepare themselves to be professionals in the cause of health and safety on the job. He gives hints on preparing for a career in industrial medicine, industrial hygiene and safety engineering. “There are vast shortages in manpower at local, state, and national levels for doctors, nurses, industrial hygienists, safety engineers and planners. … The schools of medicine in the U.S. have not recognized occupational medicine as legitimate study for specialized training.” We have fewer than 1,000 trained industrial hygienists. \(There are are ready to prepare for your future job-hunting, and will dedicate yourself, you will find clues to guide you in Wallick’s book. He tells where training is available and how to avoid the ersatz course of superficial lectures on first aid, venereal disease and the common cold. Public interest groups will need you. Unions will need you \(Tony Mazzocchi, legislative director for the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers’ Union, has recruited a group of young scientists who are bright, research in industrial hygiene as has been done has been mainly employer-oriented. Even doctors are unfamiliar with the increasingly complex conditions of work. And where technology does exist \(we know how to silence pile drivers, enclose often fails. Employers are used to winning safety awards for having posted attractive slogans; the philosophy has prevailed that if workers would only come to work sober, keep their hard hats on and watch their step, the safety and health problems that plague industry would be largely solved. IF WALLICK has a fault, it is that he puts too much reliance on the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. By now the law has a track record and it should be clear that it will be only as good as it is forced to be. Labor worked hard for its passage because the states had failed miserably to provide and enforce decent standards, but the law has a fatal flaw: it allows states that qualify to take over enforcement: 17 of them already have. At least 100,000 chemical compounds have been released into the environment in the last few years. Of these, 8,000 are commonly used in industry. There is only scattered knowledge of the health hazards or toxic effects of these chemicals. Threshold limit values, commonly called TLVs, have been set on only 450 chemicals in the work environment. At least 600 new chemicals are introduced each year. Little testing is done of their effects on human health and thus workers are their own guinea pigs. But even this tragic testing fails, for many job-related illnesses and deaths are never reported as such. WE ARE all in this soup. Air and water pass the goodies around from work places to homes, hospitals, hotels there is no escape. And although the general population does not meet the fiercest heat, dust and noise, many are affected: they have taken no physical fitness test for a job, and they include the young, the old and the ill. Infrequently, when too much industrial poison hits home, a member of the long-suffering community will sue a polluting company until it bleeds. A Houston welfare mother settled for $175,000 because Lead Products Co., Inc., destroyed her 8 children \(lead poisoning with resultant mental retardation, kidney employees don’t and usually can’t sue their employers, they can and increasingly do walk off the job. When this is done in groups of sufficient size, it can make a large hole in profits.
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