Making Change Happen
In an environment of complex social problems and dwindling resources, creating partnerships across injury and violence prevention practitioners, social justice, and other movements has the potential to exponentially increase the power of injury and violence prevention efforts. By maximizing our resources we can make change happen, save lives, and prevent others from enduring the pain and grief that come with losing a loved one, a pain which is all the greater when the injury is one that can and should have been preventable.
While public health has always been an effort grounded in the teamwork of practitioners and professionals across diverse disciplines--engineering, health, social justice, education, law, criminal justice, sociology, etc--and increasingly includes community groups and activists, there are still other powerful alliances that we can and need to explore.
Some of the efforts described below illustrate existing partnerships between the injury and violence prevention communities and efforts in other arenas. Our last partnership description is a potential partnership, one in the making, one we encourage the injury and violence prevention community to embrace.
Partners: Gun Violence Prevention and the Environmental Movement
The Violence Policy Center has partnered with Greenpeace to call attention to the serious threat of 50-caliber sniper rifle terrorist attacks on chemical targets. Despite their tremendous and destructive firepower, 50-caliber sniper rifles, which are capable of piercing armor and firing accurately over thousands of yards
previously featured Trauma Foundation story), are easier to purchase than handguns in the U.S. The VPC and
Greenpeace have detailed the threat to refinery and hazardous chemical facilities posed by these extremely dangerous weapons in their report,
Sitting Ducks: The Threat to the Chemical and Refinery Industry from 50 Caliber Sniper Rifles. This powerful partnership links two movements--gun violence prevention and the environmental movement--in a common cause: protecting adults and children and our environment from the hazards of chemical disaster and gun injury and death.
Partners: Healthcare Workers, Product Designers, Industrial Hygienists,
Professional Organizations, and Trade Unions
Started in 1990, the Training for Development of Innovative Control
Technologies (TDICT) a project of the Trauma Foundation, is a collaborative
effort of line healthcare workers, product designers, and industrial hygienists dedicated to preventing exposure to blood through better design and evaluation of medical devices and equipment. TDICT has had extensive collaboration including the National Institute for Occupational Safety and
Health; California State Department of Health; San Francisco General
Hospital; Northern California Occupational and Environmental Health Center,
University of California; School of Engineering, Stanford University;
American Hospital Association. TDICT is currently collaborating with the
American Nurses Association (ANA) on a series of workshops providing
healthcare workers with the skills to be product evaluators for their
institutions. TDICT also works with several trade unions representing health
care workers, such as the American Federation of Labor (AFL-CIO), the Service
Employees International Union (SEIU), the American Federation of State,
County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the American Federation of Teachers
(AFT) and the United Steelworkers, in order to affect and implement policies
to protect health care workers across the country.
Partners: Academic Health Researchers, Labor, and San Francisco
Municipal Railway (MUNI)
A successful example of academic and labor/management collaboration,
the MUNI Health and Safety Study has organized numerous studies relating to
the occupational health hazards faced by transit operators. Researchers have
discovered patterns of work-related stress which often spill over into family
life. Some of the occupational health hazards experienced by transit workers
include: cardiovascular disease, hypertension, musculo-skeletal injuries and
other stress related injuries. For over 25 years, this productive effort has
been conducted in conjunction with Local 250A of the Transport Workers Union
and the San Francisco Municipal Railway. Active participation of labor and
management has been crucial in
allowing the researchers access to MUNI work sites and assuring communication
regarding research and findings. The project has worked actively with labor
and management to improve the work environment. The project was responsible
for establishing an international network of researchers who are doing
research on transit worker health and safety. They also work with the
International Transport Workers Federation and edit a health and safety
column for the federations Inland Transport Bulletin.
A Partnership that Needs to Be Made NOW!
Another area where injury prevention advocates can collaborate with a wide range of policy makers and advocates is in global trade. The World Trade Organization, the North American Fair Trade Agreement and other trade schemes will continue to have a profound impact on the distribution of products which cause or contribute to injury. Regulation, from design standards, advertising restrictions, tax rates, and import restrictions are all vulnerable to trade challenges. Health advocates concerned with pharmaceutical distribution and delivery of services have gotten involved in the debate, joining forces with human rights, labor, food safety, and environmental groups to oppose
dangerous trade protocols. Injury prevention advocates, likewise should join the debate.
TDICT (described above) is also concerned with how current and proposed trade agreements, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), will affect health care worker health and safety. Through these institutions, foreign corporations can challenge health care worker protections, like the Needlestick Safety Act passed in November 2000, as barriers to trade. A unified effort among labor, advocacy, and research groups becomes increasingly important in order to protect health care workers from unnecessary occupational injuries.
Resources on Global Trade:
Global Exchange is a human rights organization dedicated to promoting environmental, political, and social justice around the
world and working to increase global awareness among the US public while building international partnerships around the world.
- Public Citizen is a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization founded by
Ralph Nader in 1971 to represent consumer interests in Congress, the executive
branch and the courts. Public Citizen fights for openness and democratic accountability in
government, for the right of consumers to seek redress in the courts; for clean, safe
and sustainable energy sources; for social and economic justice in trade policies;
for strong health, safety and environmental protections; and for safe, effective and
affordable prescription drugs and health care.
- American Public Health Association Network on Globalization and Public Health
(a new APHA project). The Globalization and Health list is a discussion group, an information source, and an organizing tool for people concerned about the impact of economic globalization on health.
To subscribe: firstname.lastname@example.org
To send a message: email@example.com
IATP Trade Observatory Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy Trade Information Project -- A joint project between IATP, Friends of the Earth
International, and Center for International Environmental Law that monitors WTO activity in Geneva in an effort to facilitate advocacy by civil society actors to redress imbalances in the world trading system.