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Your elected bargaining team went into these contract talks knowing that decades of successful bargaining has led to a health and safety program that has long been recognized as a benchmark in the automotive industry. Despite the automotive crisis and cost cutting, your negotiators were determined to ensure that UAW members at GM facilities will continue to work in the safest environment possible.
Ergonomics, industrial hygiene, new technology, contractor safety, emergency response teams, joint health and safety research, and training, were among the many complex topics that your health and safety negotiators took up with the company. Your negotiators won significant improvements in current programs and won language in new areas to keep you safe and healthy.
(See contract language, page 467)
Negotiators were successful in maintaining the joint development of your health and safety programs and resisted any attempt to circumvent the joint process. Your health and safety programs remain our overriding priority.
New ergonomics program designed to prevent injuries
(See contract language, pages 466, 475, 476; Healh Care Attachment pages 272-275)
Negotiators discussed increases in ergonomic injury rates and worker medical visits regarding strains and sprains with the company. New contract provisions will require ergonomic injuries related to MedicalInitiated Quick Response Process be analyzed using the Risk Factor Checklist.
Recognizing that not all facilities were equipped with appropriate ergonomics measuring tools, negotiators won language requiring a streamlined list of ergonomic tools that every Joint Ergonomic Technician team should have available for use to perform job evaluations. Both parties also reaffirmed the need to continue research into the causes and elimination of ergonomic problems.
A first: Upfront union input now included during design of new equipment
(See contract language, pages 495, 226)
Language won by the committee would for the fi rst time allow union health and safety input in rewriting the Global Design for Health and Safety specifi cations (G-DHS) document before new equipment is designed and installed for use in a plant. At present, our input comes after the design stage. Negotiators recognized that our health and safety input is invaluable at the design stage relative to ergonomics, safety guards and other risk factors including rework. Issues can be settled before engineers finalize the design. The language will also make it easier for union health and safety professionals to ensure mistakes are not repeated when similar equipment is being considered for a different plant. Additional language on this process at the local level was won to ensure your safety is not compromised.
Industrial hygiene: Negotiators win clean air study, other enhancements
(See contract language pages 222-223)
Clean air is a right our brothers and sisters at all UAWGM facilities deserve. Your negotiators recognized a need to revisit the issue of recirculated air in factories and won a comprehensive study in selected plants. Within 90 days of ratification, the Industrial Hygiene Subcommittee will submit a proposal to the National Joint Health and Safety Committee.
With new materials involved in advanced manufacturing, protecting members takes on a new urgency. Your negotiators made strides in keeping up with the new threats these chemical hazards bring by gaining contract language to evaluate new methods for addressing metalworking fluid exposures. Language also was won to examine exposure to isocyanates used in polyurethane paints, glues and foams. These chemicals are a leading cause of occupational asthma, and the UAW believes that these gains will provide improved protection for our members.
(See contract language, pages 484,496,498)
The UAW health and safety team expressed deep concern about the age and accuracy of the industrial hygiene equipment needed to conduct noise surveys and air sampling in our plants. As a result, a basic Industrial Hygiene tool kit will be established. It is recognized that tool kit needs will vary. The national parties will review each facility on an individual basis to make a proper determination. Other specific tools will be made available as needed for various testing.
Negotiators expressed concern that the testing equipment used to measure hydrogen sulfide (H2S) in confined space operations is not sensitive enough. The committee won language to force the company to investigate the need for new atmospheric testing equipment so that H2S can be detected at the new lower limit set by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists.
A first: Union wins input in third-party validations
(See contract language, page 500)
For the first time, the UAW will have a role in selecting third-party validators, which are outside vendors who check to make sure new equipment runs exactly as it was designed. Your negotiators also won the right to reject an unqualified validator. Health and safety negotiators also recognized the need for more information from validators, which has now become the process.
NANO technology issue addressed
(See contract language, page 471)
UAW negotiators at GM are aware of the numerous advances made in recent years in NANO technology, and sought to protect members by winning the right to play an active role in its application as its use becomes more common throughout our facilities.
Joint health and safety training improved
(See contract language, pages 218-218, 468)
The committee ensured the company remains committed to the joint health and safety process. Computers, software and hardware needs will be jointly assessed to identify replacement needs at each UAW-represented facility. Negotiators won language that continues the world-class, hands-on health and safety training we conduct at the UAW-GM Center for Human Resources (CHR). Both parties will assess the need for props, lifts and a flexible hands-on robotic training cell at the CHR.
Laser safety training
(See contract language, pages 218-219)
Due to the potential for catastrophic injuries from lasers, the UAW bargaining team pushed hard to expedite safety training in this growing field. Within 30 days of ratification, the UAW-GM Health and Safety Training Department will schedule a train-the-trainer (T3) Laser Safety Awareness Training course to be taught at the CHR.
Additional UAW seat on National Joint Committee
(See contract language, page 192)
Negotiators fought for and won an additional seat on the National Joint Committee to deal specifically with issues such as NANO technology, laser, MPS, lockout, hybrids, robotics, high-voltage batteries, research and others. The additional seat now raises the UAW participation to five on the committee.
Occupational Health Advisory Board(s) restored
(See contract language, page 207-209)
The UAW recognized the need for continuing research studies on potential health and safety related hazards that members may be exposed to on a daily basis. The union was successful in winning language that restores the joint research and Occupational Health Advisory Boards (OHAB) on an as-needed basis with the potential to utilize multiple boards. OHAB will consist of research technical evaluators and peer reviewers who will advise the National Joint Committee on a variety of possible research studies such as ergonomic assessment and interventions, air quality evaluations and tasks specific to skilled trades.
Emergency Response Teams to receive awareness boost
(See contract language, page 473)
Our team won language that requires local joint leadership to do more to encourage UAW participation on Emergency Response Teams (ERTs).
Hazard evaluation, safe operating procedures to be better coordinated
(See contract language, page 479)
Negotiators expressed concern that Safe Operating Procedures (SOPs) and Pre-Task Safety Plans were being revised or developed without Local Joint Health and Safety Committee approval. These plans and procedures, while resolving safety issues at one facility, had the potential to cause safety issues at other plants. It was agreed that any new or revised SOP and/or Pre-Task Safety Plan will be developed with input from the Local Joint Health and Safety Committee and Joint Skilled Trades Committee Teams. Additionally, these plans and SOPs will be made available to the UAW International health and safety representatives.