The Barry Commoner Center for Health and the Environment of Queens College (QC) has established an ongoing collaboration with Make the Road New York (MRNY), a local multi-service community organization serving Latino immigrants with offices in Jackson Heights (Queens), Bushwick (Brooklyn), Staten Island and Long Island. As part of their Workforce Development Department, MRNY, was funded by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to train workers on workplace hazards and workers' rights in 2011.
In 2012, following Hurricane Sandy, the Commoner Center initiated a variety of collaborations with MRNY to more fully integrate workplace safety and health into MRNY workforce development programs. Further building on that collaboration with MRNY, the Commoner has expanded its collaboration to include a network of immigrant workers centers around the NY/NJ metropolitan area. These activities include:
Following Hurricane Sandy, with funding from the Robin Hood Foundation, the Commoner Center and MRNY trained and equipped 525 Latino day laborers doing Sandy cleanup and reconstruction with personal protective equipment to reduce potential work hazards.
With funding from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (CDC), we have evaluated the effectiveness of that training. We have now developed a mobile phone application that allows day laborers to record their hazards and to report them to us and to MRNY. We have equipped 17 day laborers with smartphones and the app, and we have collected hazard data on over 175 worksites. Recent ongoing funding from the Department of Health and Human Service's Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response is supporting the further development of this mobile technology for use by labor unions, community-based organizations and others.
Building on the many lessons we learned about the importance of protecting immigrant workers involved in post disaster clean up and recovery, the Commoner Center in collaboration with the Labor Institute and the United Steelworkers of America have been funded to create an Immigrant Worker Disaster Resiliency Workgroup. Made up of representative from seven immigrant worker centers, this workgroup is developing information and training materials that will enhance capacity to protect immigrant workers during future disasters.
To broaden the integration of workplace safety into MRNY's activities, MRNY and the Commoner Center used CUNY Workforce Development funding to develop a module for the MRNY community health worker training program that covers the importance of gathering patient information about workplace hazards and training materials on safe cleaning materials for a newly formed MRNY domestic worker cooperative.
In 2014-2015, MRNY and Queens College will develop and translate safety and health training materials to help home care workers remain safe at work.
The Commoner Center just been funded by CDC to start a Prevention Research Center as part of a 5 year project (2014-2019) to integrate workplace prevention and health promotions initiatives targeting low wage and immigrant workers enrolled in MRNY's workforce development programs.