Lawyers Journal

Task force aims to tackle factors impacting workplace injuries

MBA Vice President Douglas K. Sheff is leading a multidisciplinary group of professionals to analyze and make recommendations to advance safety in workplaces throughout Massachusetts.

The Workplace Safety Task Force are focusing their efforts on:

  • Identifying dangerous practices and trends in the workplace;
  • Promoting practices to prevent or reduce accidents, injuries and fatalities; and
  • Advocating for improved support care and services, including legal, medical and vocational services.

To address the tasks at hand, the collective expertise and backgrounds of the group goes beyond just the legal field. A member of the Legislature, researchers and physicians, as well as other occupational safety and health experts, will complement the participating attorneys in the group.

"This is one of the most meaningful groups I've been involved with," said Sheff, who credits the comprehensive nature of it for adding such excitement to its agenda.

The task force realized its first victory of that agenda at the March 10 House of Delegates meeting when the delegation voted to endorse the "Right to Know" bill currently pending before the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development.

The bill would mandate that workers get information on safety hazards on the jobsite. It would also update the Employment Agency Law to better level the playing field for all temporary employment and staffing agencies while ensuring rights are guaranteed to members of the temporary workforce.

For workers, it would mandate that key details of job assignments are provided in writing; for businesses, it would ensure all employment and staffing agencies are subject to the same registration process; and for the commonwealth, it would lessen the resources and cost of hearings and inspections resulting from inequitable registration and other standards.

"This group and its recommendations have the potential to make a profound and lasting impact on workplace safety within the next couple of years," added Sheff.

Joining Sheff on the task force are:

  • Lenore Azaroff, Sc.D., University of Massachusetts Lowell
  • Robert Bower, Massachusetts AFL-CIO
  • James J. Campbell, Esq.
  • Brendon G. Carney, Esq.
  • Jennifer Comer, Executive Director, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group
  • John J. Davey, Esq.
  • Letitia Davis, Sc.D., Ed.M. (Dr.), Massachusetts Department of Public Health
  • Marisa A. DeFranco, Esq.
  • Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, Mass. Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health
  • Martin W. Healy, Esq.
  • Deborah Kohl, Esq.
  • J. Channing Migner, Esq.
  • John J. Morrissey, Esq.
  • Robert Naparsteck, M.D., Good Samaritan Occupational Health
  • Hon. Emily J. Novick, Department of Industrial Accidents
  • Alan S. Pierce, Esq.
  • Michael J. Shor, M.P.H., Best Doctors Occupational Health Institute
  • State Rep. Martin J. Walsh
©2014 Massachusetts Bar Association