The winners of this year’s American Public Health Association’s (APHA) recognition awards for achievement in occupational health and safety illustrate the diversity of talent among those committed to ensuring workers’ rights to a safe workplace. Martin Cherniak, MD is a clinician and researcher at the University of Connecticut; Amy Liebman is with the Migrant Clinicians Network; Dr. Salvador Moncada i LluÃs is with Spain’s Union Institute of Work Environment and Health; LaMont Byrd is Director of Safety and Health for the Teamsters; and Barbara Rahke, a grassroots leader in Philadelphia’s tri-State area and director of PhilaPOSH.
APHA’s Occupational Health and Safety Section (OHS), which marks its 97th anniversary this year, will celebrate the accomplishments of these individuals during a luncheon ceremony on Tuesday, November 1, 2011. It is part of the Association’s annual meeting being held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC.
The news release issued by APHA’s OHS Section provides further details on the accomplishments of these individuals. Dr. Martin Cherniak, for example, also conducted on-site investigations of childhood cancer in Belarus related to the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, and wrote The Hawk’s Nest Incident. Dr. Cherniak will be receiving the Alice Hamilton Award.
Dr. Salvador Moncada is receiving the APHA OHS Section’s International award. He was director of the Center for Occupational Health of Barcelona’s Municipal Institute of Public Health and was instrumental in Spain’s adoption of a validated national survey instrument to assess work-related psychosocial stressors. Dr. Moncada collaborates extensively with labor unions representing workers from many different industries. Together, they conduct research and offer training on health inequalities related to social class and work-related psychosocial risks.
One obstacle to addressing job-related health inequities is clinicians’ unfamiliarity with the hazards faced by their patients at work. Award winner Amy Liebman’s projects at the Migrant Clinicians Network includes programs to assist clinicians to recognize and address environmental and occupational hazards for farmworkers and their families. An MCN document about blueberry pickers, for example, provides information for clinicians on the physical, mechanical, chemical and organizational hazards encountered by workers in the northeast U.S. who pick the fruit. Similar reference documents are available for clinicians seeing dairy workers, apple orchard workers, and others. Ms. Liebman will be receiving the Lorin Kerr award.
The Teamsters’ LaMont Byrd has greatly expanded opportunities for health and safety training for the union’s members, but also for non-union workers and community partners. The Teamsters’ union has 1.5 million members who work in package delivery (DHL and UPS), solid waste and recycling, the airlines, food and beverage production and the ports. Mr. Byrd will be receiving the Tony Mazzocchi award. Sharing the honor will be Ms. Barbara Rahke who is a master grassroots organizer and coalition builder in the tri-State Philadelphia region. She leads the non-profit worker safety organization PhilaPOSH which educates workers and their families about their job safety rights, and provides hazard-specific training to workers and small employers. PhilaPOSH focuses its energy on fighting for the living, but sets aside one day each year to remember those workers who are killed on-the-job.
Congratulations to these individuals who are most deserving of recognition.