Sponsors of the week hope all employers willo raise awareness of worker health and safety on a daily basis. Meanwhile, the New York State Health Department awarded $18.5 million in new training grants to health care facilities statewide.

NY Groups Begin Occupational Health Awareness Week

It started Sunday and ends May 1, incorporating April 28, which is observed around the world as Workers Memorial Day.

The inaugural Occupational Health Awareness Week started Sunday, with its founders -- the New York State Occupational Health Clinics Network, supported by the state AFL-CIO, NYCOSH, and members of the state legislature -- hoping it will encourage all employers to raise awareness of workers' health and safety on a daily basis. The week ends May 1 and, not coincidentally, includes April 28, observed around the world as Workers Memorial Day.

The network observes that nearly 280,000 workers per year in New York State become sick or injured because of their work, and more than 220 die on the job. They ask employers and employees to "Take Up the Challenge" of the week by planning or participating in at least one activity. "Let's honor the men and women who have died, become disabled or lost a loved one on the job. We must do all we can to make sure New York workers return safely home to their families each and every day," the week's promotional materials say.

Supporters say employers can do their part by:

  • Reviewing OSHA and New York State Public Employee Safety and Health Bureau (PESH) laws that apply to their work sites and ensure they are in compliance
  • Working with workforce representatives to develop health and safety programming as needed
  • Inviting a site visit from an occupational health expert to make OSH recommendations
  • Offering medical screenings
  • Hosting in-house workshops/training sessions for workers that focus on preventing work-related illness and injury
  • Forming and supporting health and safety committees
  • Hosting a workplace Health & Safety Fair
  • Distributing OSH information and appropriate PPE regularly

On April 16, the New York State Health Department announced the award of $18.5 million in new training grants to health care facilities statewide to help them train employees for jobs where there are shortages or new skills are needed -- specifically, nurses, nurse specialists, nurse leaders, field epidemiologists, long-term care and home care personnel, occupational and physical therapists, technicians, technologists, social workers, dental personnel, pharmacists, and workers trained on medical and electronic health records, coding and billing, computer skills, and rehabilitation services.

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