Philadelphia School District Employees Demand Safety Training

Jeffrey S. Gross

Representatives for School District of Philadelphia workers belonging to Service Employees International Union Local 32BJ have recently been involved in a contract dispute regarding, among other issues, worker safety. As of this writing (August 22), they have voted to authorize a strike if certain contract demands pertaining to safety training and related matters are not met by August 31.

Among the workers involved in the strike are bus drivers, mechanics, engineers, and others whose jobs can potentially put them in harm’s way. They have been negotiating a new contract (the current contract expires on August 31) with an emphasis on standardizing employee safety training. Approximately 2,000 workers are represented in the union.

Those fighting for standardized safety training programs point out that the existence and implementation of such programs would not merely boost the safety of the employees negotiating for stronger contracts. These programs could also yield safety benefits for educators and students.

Little details are available regarding the specific ways in which the union wishes to more thoroughly address safety training in employee contracts. However, there is no question that the employees involved in this strike can be put in harm’s way due to such factors and circumstances as:

  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Exposure to hazardous materials or contagions
  • Unsafe work environments
  • Lack of proper safety equipment

Those are just a few examples. Union representatives argue that establishing a standard set of employee training programs and procedures would reduce the odds of workers being harmed in avoidable accidents. This is a logical conclusion. Research has consistently shown that when employee safety training is prioritized within a business or organization, safety issues tend to be less prevalent. Studies and surveys have also confirmed that boosting employee safety can have a positive impact on employee engagement and productivity.

It’s worth noting that, by the time this blog is published, these issues may have been resolved. However, this story is still worthy of coverage. It serves as a reminder that it is often left to union representatives and other dedicated workers to ensure workers throughout Philadelphia are kept safe.

Unfortunately, even when workplace safety is prioritized and safety training is standardized, it’s still possible for employees in virtually any industry to be involved in accidents on the job. If this has happened to you, under Pennsylvania law, you are eligible to recover workers’ compensation benefits. As long as an accident was genuinely work-related, you can seek benefits to help you cover your medical bills and lost wages. You don’t even need to prove the accident was the result of another party’s negligence.

That said, recovering the full amount of compensation for which you may be eligible can be a challenge. Your employer’s insurance carrier might try to deny your claim to avoid paying you entirely.

This doesn’t need to happen. At Gross & Kenny, LLP, our Philadelphia workers’ compensation attorneys are on hand to help you pursue the benefits you deserve. Learn more about how we can help by contacting us online or calling us at 215-512-1500 for a free consultation.

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