Around the UFT

Training for chemical emergency response

Making schools safer

Cara Metz The International Chemical Workers Union Council’s Keith Mundy instructs members in the use of self-contained breathing apparatuses.
Cara Metz Rafael De La Cruz (seated left), a course graduate and Thomas A. Edison CTE HS teacher, oversees members learning decontamination techniques.

It’s not just health and safety specialists and firefighters who need to be experts in chemical emergency response procedures. In schools, it’s laboratory specialists, science teachers, career and technical teachers and school safety supervisors who need to know what to do in crisis situations when chemicals are released in amounts outstripping what is considered incidental. From Aug. 22 to 26, at union headquarters, the UFT and the AFT worked in cooperation with the International Chemical Workers Union Council on the 10th annual Secondary School Chemical Emergency Response training course. Instructors from both the chemical industry and its related unions provided instruction on such workplace safety issues as the options for safe egress, effective decontamination procedures and the proper handling, storage and disposal of chemicals. The 21 participants worked on group exercises, got hands-on instruction in the use of personal protective equipment and spill-control materials and responded to a simulated hazardous chemical release. The event was underwritten by a National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences grant. “This is a great, cost-free professional development program that helps make both our members and our students safer,” said UFT Health and Safety Director Chris Proctor.

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