health1_03Superior Safety and Health

Towards a Safer Workplace

Every day there are hundreds of thousands of UA members at work on job sites all across North America. Because the safety and health of our members is the very highest priority in the United Association, we believe it is vital to give our local unions and members the tools they need to be safe on the job.  A better-trained worker is a safer worker.

Work on a jobsite such as an oil refinery, for example, requires an extremely high level of safety and awareness of potential workplace dangers. In the Gulf Coast region, much of the work where UA members are needed is particularly hazardous and requires smart, well-trained workers who can navigate through existing risks and know how not to create any new ones.

Members of the United Association know how to create a safer and healthier workplace in many ways.  Our training in safety and health is unrivalled and we are proud that we have one of the lowest injury/fatality rates in the industry. Safety and health has always been an important element of our apprenticeship and journeyman training programs. Proper safety procedures are taught at every stage of our training programs, and UA members who attain their journeyman status are well aware of the hazards on the job.

In the United Association, we believe that even one workplace death is too many and we take the safety and health of our members very seriously.  This translates into a better, safer workplace for our contractors and construction users. This is not only better for workers, this is better for the bottom line. It is better for everyone.

health2_03Safety Training Tops

What has created the UAs exemplary record in safety? The greatest driving force behind the drop in the jobsite death rate and the creation of safer workplaces has been an increase in education efforts on the part of the United Association.

To this end, the UA has developed a state-of-the-art standardized Safety and Health training program, along with the Building and Construction Trades Department (BCTD), AFL-CIO, and seven national contractor associations.

This program is a 10-Hour Construction Safety and Health Course, created in 1998 and authorized by OSHA. Currently, more than 200 UA local unions have at least one instructor authorized to teach this course, which covers topics including materials handling; electrical safety; fall protection; stairways and ladders; confined spaces; hazard communication; scaffold safety; personal protective equipment; ergonomics and fire protection.

Around the country, construction users and plant owners have noticed the effectiveness of this program and many have set policies that require all contractor employees to have the OSHA 10-Hour Completion Card before they are allowed to perform mechanical work on their premises. Several UA local unions have required all journeymen and apprentices to complete this course.

Addressing Substance Abuse

Drug and alcohol prevention programs at the work site have a direct relationship to the safety and well being of our workers. The UA has taken a strong stance on behalf of worker safety and endorses substance abuse testing through UA programs that meet or exceed owner’s requirements.

Drug testing and treatment measures can be appropriate and effective. We support the development of substance abuse policies covering workers which include the following: prohibitions against the possession and use of illegal substances at work or impairment at work; testing at various stages, including pre-employment; unscheduled or random testing; for-cause, post-incident and return-to-work from treatment; stringent controls in selecting individuals for testing; non-invasive testing procedures and more. All testing and treatment should be done in full accord with the latest government standards and Federal and State laws.

Worker Turnover

Attracting and retaining a skilled workforce is of prime importance to project owners and to the United Association. Retention of workers is essential to meeting schedules and eliminating unnecessary costs resulting from worker turnover. The UA believes we must provide competitive wages and benefits, consistent employment opportunities, safe job sites, good working conditions and fair treatment of workers. If these things exist on a project, the best workers will be attracted to that project and will stay on the job. The UA is committed to providing a stable workforce, one that assures the results will meet the owners schedules and budget expectations.