Vital training on workplace hazards, aggressive student behavior and injury prevention has been offered to union members for 25 years by NYSUT. The statewide union has again applied for a grant from the state Department of Labor for occupational health and safety training and education to continue to provide these services throughout the state.
"Training can help members to recognize hazards, understand basic and commonsense ways to correct them, know their rights under relevant laws, and learn strategies to make management pay attention and do something to make things better," said Wendy Hord, NYSUT health and safety specialist.
As April's Workers Memorial Day brings attention to those who have died from workplace injuries, Hord says the day is also about remembering those who have been injured or made ill because of work. NYSUT members can be sickened by poor indoor air quality, mold, lifting injuries or from violence on the job.
"Our members are like any other worker — they have working conditions that can be hazardous and they want to come home in the same shape as when they went to work. No worker should ever have to worry about being affected by an unsafe or unhealthy workplace," Hord said.
Hord provides much of the training, and for some sessions, consultants provide training in specialized areas. Training can take place at a school, hotel, conference room or NYSUT regional office. Training requests can be made by local union presidents, health and safety chairs or NYSUT's regional staff.
Each year that the DOL grant is awarded, funding is also made available for the NYSUT Education & Learning Trust (ELT) to provide professional development seminars on health and safety issues for educators, health professionals and other members.
The three-hour seminars are held throughout the state. Topics include autism; disability awareness; engaging the disruptive student; and addressing aggressive student behavior in schools — all focused on reducing or preventing injury.
Seminars offer strategies for dealing with students who exhibit chronic and extreme misbehavior, including violence. Participants learn intervention techniques, how to avoid and defuse confrontations, and ways to reinforce desirable behavior.
For information on future health and safety ELT seminars, leaders can contact Susan LaFond, assistant in educational services, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 800-528-6208.
Health and safety training sessions can be requested by local leaders through Wendy Hord at email@example.com.