Warrior for Workplace Safety and Health Honored

by Dr. David Michaels on June 5, 2012 · 5 comments

Labor Leader Tony Mazzocchi

There are few people who have had a greater impact on the safety and health of American workers than the late Tony Mazzocchi.

Tony was a labor leader in New York City, who eventually became Legislative Director and then Vice-President of the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers Union (now part of the United Steelworkers). Through his association with the environmental movement, Tony became one of the first in the labor movement to recognize how dangerous it is for workers to be exposed to toxic chemicals day in and day out. His tireless advocacy for worker safety and health played a major role in convincing Congress to pass the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970.

One of Tony’s greatest contributions was recognizing that scientists and rank-and-file workers shared the same goal of reducing workplace chemical exposures, and that both groups could learn from each other. He involved physicians and public health scientists in researching the health effects of workplace chemicals and sharing the results with workers. He also enlisted workers to teach medical and other students about how change occurs on the shop floor.

In doing that, he changed the lives of countless people: workers who learned how and why to protect themselves, and physicians and scientists who were exposed to the world of industrial work. Many of the country’s leading occupational health scientists and clinicians were introduced to the field by Tony directly, or in one of the programs he started.

Tony’s legacy also lives on today in worker health groups across our nation, in which workers, unions, activists and professionals come together to prevent workplace hazards.

As a tribute to his unparalleled efforts to protect the lives and livelihoods of workers, the U.S. Department of Labor will be inducting Tony into the Labor Hall of Honor today.

The Labor Department is pleased to recognize Tony Mazzocchi for his tireless commitment to the safety, health and welfare of America’s workers. Tony’s extraordinary efforts and leadership helped pave the way for vital reforms like the OSH Act, and it’s time he takes his rightful place in the Labor Hall of Honor.

Dr. David Michaels is assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Returning to liberty June 6, 2012 at 9:11 am

How ’bout that Scott Walker, eh? AWESOME!!!

2 Ben Flemming June 6, 2012 at 12:12 pm

Tony Mazzocchi has played a huge role in the workplace safety movement over the past decade. He founded the Labor Party in 1996 and was convinced that corporations political interests were not serving the working peoples best interests as well. In the 1980′s Tony started and ran the organization called the Labor Party Advocates, which is a group of individuals dedicated to the goal of organizing a political party meant to support Social Security, labor rights, national health care for America’s work force. Thanks for the informative post, and allowing me to contribute my thoughts. This is a very important subject to me.

3 Domingos Chale June 21, 2012 at 11:30 am

congratulation for this initiative. we in Africa, take OHS act as reference to reinforce our Policies and laws on a daily bases to protect ourselves as workforce. I am so proud of Tony…

4 OSHA Safety Training June 26, 2012 at 2:00 pm

Mr. Mazzocchi is one of those people whose invisible fingerprints are found all over some of the workers health legislation here in the USA. Impact was much bigger than just the union he represented.

5 Susan Beech January 2, 2014 at 10:11 am

I just had to revisit this article this morning. I know it has been a little while, but I’m feeling the impact of Tony’s work more than ever lately. What a tremendous person.

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