Mechanical Insulators Labor Management Cooperative Trust Executive Director Pete Ielmini joined America’s Work Force Radio Podcast on May 27 and spoke about Insulator apprenticeships during the COVID-19 pandemic and asbestos legislation.
Hosted by Ed “Flash” Ferenc, America’s Work Force Radio Podcast (AWF) provides a forum for organized labor leaders to speak about issues and events facing their industry.
Ielmini started off by speaking about the state of the Insulators apprenticeship program. He said registered Insulator Training Centers are successfully using distance learning technology such as Zoom and other applications. This approach has worked fairly well, so far.
Discussion then turned to personal protective equipment (PPE).
Ielmini said highly skilled and highly trained union Insulators follow safety guidelines and take all safety precautions, which includes wearing respirators and masks due to the nature of the trade and materials they use on a daily basis.
During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, N95 masks have been a topic of discussion. Ielmini explained N95 masks do not have a seal, like those worn by Insulators, when working near asbestos, so outside air can still get in.
While on the topic of asbestos, Ielmini talked about current legislation to ban asbestos.
He said asbestos is still a major killer and noted asbestos exposure is responsible for roughly 12,000 to 15,000 deaths per year.
Despite these numbers, asbestos is still around. Ielmini spoke about House Resolution 1603 and the reasons why legislators should support it in order to protect workers and ban asbestos once and for all.
Ielmini also discussed HR 1824, which is the Mary Jo Lawyer Spano Mesothelioma Patient Registry Act of 2019. The legislation seeks to create a registry of those exposed to asbestos, including where they were exposed, how they were treated and what symptoms they exhibited.
Listen to Ielmini’s entire interview: