UAW Wants Comprehensive Metalworking Fluids Standard

The union, which represents some 390,000 active members, said May 11 that it filed its petition last month with OSHA.

The UAW -- the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America -- filed a petition April 28 with OSHA seeking a comprehensive standard governing workers' exposure to metalworking fluids, the union announced May 11. The uino contends there is significant evidence of severe health effects from occupational exposure to the fluids, making government intervention a necessity.

"All workers, union and nonunion, need to be protected by a consistent, rational federal standard for exposure to metalworking fluids," UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said. "These fluids are dangerous substances that can cause life-threatening conditions." The union cites a NIOSH estimate of more than 1 million workers who are exposed to metalworking fluids and lubricants while at work, and it says significant numbers of its members work in the automotive and auto parts industries, aerospace, agricultural implement, and other manufacturing industries where there are significant potential exposures.

"The best way for workers to protect themselves is for them to have a union contract that spells out exactly how companies will protect workers from these dangerous substances," Gettelfinger said. "The federal government also has a role: It needs to set standards that are effective, reasonable, and consistent, and always with worker health and safety being the top concern."

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