Mechanical Insulators Labor Management and Cooperative Trust Executive Director Pete Ielmini appeared on the Sept. 23 episode of America’s Work Force Union Podcast to discuss how worker safety has improved within the insulation industry throughout the years.
Ielmini told AWF host Ed “Flash” Ferenc building trades unions have paved the way for making the construction industry a safer place to work.
He said unions heavily lobbied the federal government to create and pass the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which instituted a new set of safety standards to protect employees on-the-job.
Ielmini explained how the legislation established a legal requirement for employers to provide a safe workplace. The bill included provisions stating employers must provide necessary personal protective equipment and implement safety policies.
This historic legislation also established a new government agency called the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA.
Ielmini then explained how OSHA is working to hold employers accountable for keeping their employees safe at work.
Currently, they are levying fines on employers who violate rules. For most companies, there has been a larger emphasis on safety this year, as many companies have taken extra precautions to protect their workers from COVID-19.
Unfortunately, Ielmini believes the OSHA fines are not enough to make some companies improve upon poor safety conditions. He said some employers do not fear OSHA, they only fear an increase in their insurance rates.
Discussion then turned to the current state of safety for Insulators.
According to Ielmini, the largest safety concern for Insulators remains the materials they use. Potential exposure to certain carcinogens on jobsites and breathing in materials continues to poise the biggest risk to the workforce.
While the banning of asbestos has made it safer to be an Insulator, journeymen and apprentices still worry about inhaling materials such as fiberglass and mineral wool.
LMCT contractors provide the appropriate PPE for their employees to wear and Insulators are trained to follow all the safety rules and regulations in order to protect themselves and everyone else on the jobsite.
You can listen to the full interview here: