USW Health and Safety Activists Join Management at Triangle of Prevention Conference to Improve Worker-Driven Program

USW Local 10-1 hosted the Triangle of Prevention (TOP) conference Sept. 26-28 at its union hall in South Philadelphia. Local 10-1 and Philadelphia Energy Solutions participate in TOP.

Over 50 USW and company participants involved in TOP, as well as a refinery local interested in the program, attended to have questions answered, learn ways to improve the program, network, engage in refresher training and acknowledge the accomplishments of two TOP sites.

One conference session focused on using refresher health and safety training to build involvement in TOP.

During the union-only session, the attendees discussed how to grow participation at existing sites, expand TOP to other locations, and increase management participation in the TOP annual meetings. Each site reported on its program successes and challenges. The union participants also elected two new members of the advisory group to represent the paper and oil sectors. 

TOP Recognition

A highlight of the labor-management sessions was the presentation of the 2017 Glenn Erwin Award to Local 9-675, representing the TOP site at the 3M plant in Guin, Ala., for a major near-miss investigation, and Local 912’s acceptance of the 2017 Fallen Workers Memorial Award for integration of the TOP program into the health, safety and environment department at PBF’s Toledo Refining Company in Oregon, Ohio.

“TOP helps us prevent an incident or near miss from happening so everyone goes home safe,” said Local 13-750 TOP alternate representative Carmine Frangella from the Shell Chemical plant in Norco, La. Frangella is a member of the TOP advisory group, which makes recommendations on the program to Tony Mazzocchi Center (TMC) staffers.

Oil, gas and petrochemical workers also get to go home safe because TOP focuses on sharing lessons learned so that near misses and incidents do not repeat themselves.

“What happened at one site might happen at another site, even though it is another company,” said Kevin Theriot, Local 13-750 TOP representative from Shell’s Convent, La., refinery. Theriot served as the emcee for the conference and is a member of the advisory group.

Building Cooperation

Union dues dollars do not go into TOP. Companies that participate as a TOP site pay for the program along with grants obtained by the TMC staff.

It is a benefit members receive for being in a union. And companies are helped by TOP as well.

“We want to make sure the company takes credit, as well as the union, for the trainings. We can provide the backup for what the company is being called upon to prove to regulators, especially after an incident,” said John Scardella, TMC program administrator.

“Cookie” Sonnier from Local 13-423 at the Motiva refinery in Port Arthur, Texas, an active TOP participant, described how essential management support is for the program:

“For TOP to work, you have to be able to work with your company. If you don’t have company support, it’s not going to be successful.

“The company people may tell each other about health and safety incidents, but it does not get to the rank-and-file. As workers, we have to let the company know we want their support. When it comes to people’s safety, there shouldn’t be conflicts. You are working toward a goal together, not against each other,” he said.

For More Information

If you are interested in the TOP program, you can contact TOP Program Coordinator Steve Doherty, sdoherty@uswtmc.org or 412-562-2561 and TMC Program Administrator John Scardella, jscardella@uswtmc.org or 412-562-2582.

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For industry specific inquiries,
Call USW Communications at 412-562-2442

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