NUPGE Recognizes Health and Safety Activists

In Honour of Tony Mazzocchi (1926-2002)


James Clancy (right) with Tony Mazzocchi (centre) and Dr. Quentin Young (left)

Tony Mazzocchi was the ideal trade unionist – gutsy, scrappy and an ingenious grassroots agitator and organizer who understood that activism is the bedrock of the labour movement.Mazzocchi pushed the Occupational Safety and Health Act in the US into being. He didn’t invent it or write the legislation or do the heavy lobbying in the U.S. Congress. But he led the public campaign that made all the difference. He conducted a series of very public workshops/hearings at which workers provided detailed information – chapter and verse – about the horrendous working conditions on shop floors all over the U.S. and Canada.The workshops became so popular that the media picked up the story. By popularizing the issue of workplace pollution, Mazzocchi linked the effort with the emerging environmental movement, making it nearly impossible for politicians to avoid it. Even Richard Nixon was forced to go along with the bill.

The following activists have been nominate from a NUPGE component in recognition of their Health and Safety work.

Sandy Terlecki, BCGEU/NUPGE

Sandy has served as the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) rep in her office for 11 years and BCGEU's Component 6 OSH Chair at the Provincial Executive Level. Her passion and commitment to her OSH responsibilities is clear to everyone she works with. Her personal touch is demonstrated as the first aid attendant where she has attended to situations in the office on more than a couple occasions.

Sandy is an educator; taking the time to orient new staff to OSH policy and procedures in the office. In addition she is an OSH trainer for the Province and one of 12 Provincial trainers for Risk Assessments and Violence Prevention.

Sandy is extremely Safety-minded from the office-to-vehicles-to-home. She is vigilant with regards to filing incident reports and does the joint investigations of incidents with employers, working to improve workplaces. She helps with other worksites to complete safety inspections and make recommendations.

"Sandy is our ergonomic guru and makes sure that we are ergonomically correct. We have workstations that are not ergonomic and she has been instrumental in making changes. She is not afraid to make suggestions to anyone about safety."

"Although I have only been here a short time, I have found Sandy to be informative and helpful on all OSH related matters. Not only did Sandy take the time to explain to me the procedures and protocol around work place safety, she continues to provide guidance with issues such as ergonomics and potential work place hazards."

Gail Wence, MGEU/NUPGE

Gail's dedication and knowledge of work place safety far exceeds the standard. Gail has taken the responsibility of educating her peers with instructive "Lunch and Learn" sessions. She takes the time to be sure employees and employers are aware of risks and protocols to ensure a safe work place.

Gail makes her self available to anyone who has questions or needs assistance with any topic regarding workplace health and safety. Through Gail's dedication and perseverance the Manitoba Housing Authority has now implemented a Working Alone Policy. This illustrates just one of the many things Gail has done to ensure that the work place is safe for everyone.


Keely Richmond, MGEU/NUPGE

Keely devoted her time an energy to a specific health and safety policy issue at her regarding hiring and workload. In four months three staff had accumulated in excess of 600 hours in overtime.

Keely arranged a meeting with the departments Director of Human Resources upon hearing of the problem. The managing director of the employing authority was called in to address the concern. With outstanding patience and persistence, Keely offered her own time to ensure the problem was resolved. She continues to work with employees to ensure that reasonable work hours are implemented and maintained.


Eric Thompson, OPSEU/NUPGE

Eric has been the chair of the local joint health and safety committee for 6 years. He has been scrupulous in his application of the Health and Safety Act during the last Ontario Public Services strike.

Currently Eric serves as the elected vice chair of the Provincial Health and Safety Committee for the Ministry of Children's Services

"Eric has been a tireless champion of worker health and safety. I have met but 1 or 2 health and safety activists in the last 20-years with as much passion and heart. Eric is and always will be for the health and safety of fellow employee."


Bev Banfield, HSABC/NUPGE

Bev Banfield is a medical laboratory technologist at Mission Memorial Hospital. After years of complaints about incineration fumes and other air quality concerns in the laboratory, one of her colleagues was diagnosed with cancer. Then another. And another. And yet another. All within months of each other.

Bev spearheaded an investigation of what was eventually accepted as a cancer cluster in the Lab at Mission Memorial Hospital. She has worked countless hours of behalf of the HSA (Health Sciences Association) & HEU (Hospital Employees' Union) members who work in the department and throughout the hospital.

Bev started the investigation in 2003 with a letter writing campaign to the employer (Fraser Health Authority) starting with the CEO and working her way down the list of directors and managers. This led to an investigation by the Occupational Health & Safety Agency for Healthcare in BC, which concluded that there was indeed a cancer cluster.

Bev then chaired a sub-committee of the hospital OH&S committee formed to deal with the investigation and the subsequent recommendations of the OHSAH report. She worked hard on this committee making sure that the employer performed their due diligence, that the workplace was safe, that no other employees were at risk, and that the affected members concerns were heard and validated.

Bev has also spent her own time investigating this issue. When the employer asked for volunteers to go through boxes of old hospital records, Bev was there. She went to the local fire department, received past reports of air quality complaints and spent hours pouring through them. She has even collected her own samples when the air ducts were being cleaned and management would not do any testing.

Bev has organized and coordinated many meetings between staff, management, HSA and even legal advisors. She has spent many hours listening to members' concerns, reporting to HSA and communicating information from HSA to our members.

She is not only an effective role model and advocate but she has gone above and beyond her role as OH&S steward.

In 2007, HSABC awarded the union's first "David Bland Memorial Award" to Bev. The award recognizes HSA members who have championed a local occupation health and safety issue and made a difference in the lives of their colleagues. The award honours David Bland, a vocational rehabilitation counsellor at Richmond Mental Health who was murdered at work by a former client.



Edna Park is a BCGEU Local 0605 member who works for the Ministry of Employment and Income Assistance. She has been a union activist since the mid-1980s, and has held many different roles in the union.

Sister Park was trained to be an OSH Facilitator in 1995. Since that time, Sister Park has continued to do Train-the-Trainer courses, including Ergonomics and Violence Train-the- Trainer Facilitator courses. Sister Park is always available for training, regardless of the location and in both government and non-government certifications.

Sister Park has participated in public hearings including the public hearing processes as related to BC's Workers' Compensation Board. Sister Park is always supporting health and safety initiatives and working hard to make change. Her commitment to education make her a special asset to our union.


Peter Dignard, BCGEU/NUPGE

Peter Dignard is a BCGEU Local 0111 member who has been involved in Occupational Health and Safety since the early 1990s. He works for Prince George Regional Correction Centre and was trained to be an OSH Facilitator in 1995.

Since that time, Brother Dignard has continued to do Train-the-Trainer courses, as well as Ergonomics and Violence Train the Trainer Facilitator courses. Brother Dignard has conducted and participated in BCGEU's facilitators' training since the inception of our training initiative.

Brother Dignard has been involved in his local health and safety committee for over 10 years. His work as an educator and a tireless OSH activist, make him a real health and safety leader in our Union.

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