PHILAPOSH Memorial Day Event Speech

This event was kicked of with the following statement “Pray for the Dead, Fight Like Hell for the Living.” Mother Jones

I have been asked to speak this morning on behalf of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers H & W Fund & Union for whom I act as Director of Environmental Science & Occupational Safety & Health – my relationship with them has been long – almost 30 years – and reflective of a deep commitment to the protection not just of their members but to all those, especially our children, who are occupying and using our public school buildings.

As I speak this morning I would ask that you keep in mind something that the PFT H&W Fund & Union has recognized and repeated many times, and for many years: “The students learning environment is our working environment.” That is in keeping with the major theme here today – the theme of the connection between Worker Safety & Public Safety.

I have chosen to work directly for employees, unions, individuals and the public for more than 30 years because of my firm belief that those who are directly exposed to hazard and risk in the workplace, have an absolute right to know about those dangerous conditions and have an absolute right to participate in evaluating the hazards – potential and other affecting themselves and their coworkers – and an absolute right to act in designing and implementing the measures to prevent their own illnesses, injuries and worse and I am proud to add my voice to the voices of so many others today who are fighting to eliminate the workplace health and safety hazards that impact the lives of so many of us.;

This Memorial Day event may be a solemn occasion but it is also an opportunity for us to come together to demand that what are often preventable conditions are in-fact prevented – before workers or members of the public, or the children in our schools, are injured, made ill or die;

The Market St. building collapse last year was a catastrophic example of the direct connection between public safety and worker safety. There are many other situations, although even if less immediately devastating, that put workers and the public at grave risk. Sand blasting and high-speed sawing and cutting of city stone and cement block on the streets of our city can pose serious silica dust hazards. Improperly controlled lead removal activities or removal and demolition work in buildings with asbestos also results in exposures that can cause sickness and death; Exposures to asbestos, lead, mold, and other health hazards in our schools present respiratory hazards that impact not just occupant health but also on educational achievement and fiscal sustainability.

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