Health & Safety – Public Sector

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Important Workplace Safety Documents for DCF Members

Have you ever been made to feel that your safety at work is minimized — or that administrators aren’t listening to valid concerns?

Safety of our members during the workday is of the utmost importance to our Union. And to make sure appropriate attention is devoted to workplace safety, we have negotiated a Workplace Violence Prevention Policy with DCF — designed to ensure that everyone stays safe while carrying out our important work in the community.

Our Union leadership team has also put together a Member Safety Tip Sheet to ensure that everyone is fully aware of what is expected of the agency to keep members safe. Please take a moment to review this tip sheet and get up to speed on the existing violence prevention policy.

Together, we can ensure that worker safety remains the agency’s top priority.

Thank you again for all you do!

Peter MacKinnon
DCF Chapter President

Anthony Labo
DCF Vice President & Safety Committee Chair

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Caseload ‘Crisis Point’ Prompts Protest by Whitinsville DCF Social Workers

Dozens of social workers and community allies staged a protest in Whitinsville recently over what they call ‘crisis point’ caseloads at the Department of Children & Families (DCF) South Central Mass facility. The delegation elevated its demand for immediate action to reduce skyrocketing family caseloads at the DCF South Central Offices on Church Street. Caseloads at the facility have continued to rise in recent months, leading front-line staff to worry about the quality of care they are able to provide for the children and families they serve.

For years, social workers and support staff have expressed concerns over ever-increasing caseloads at the Department of Children & Families facilities – with many worried that the commonwealth’s most vulnerable children would not have access to the quality of services they require and deserve. The South Central DCF office has ranked among amongst the highest, with some social workers handling as many as 26 families at a time. Workers ultimately secured a monumental agreement with DCF that would reduce caseloads to more manageable levels, but have been told implementation could take up to two years. Front-line social workers penned a letter to DCF leaders outlining these issues and urging prompt action, hoping for some level of progress in the coming weeks.

“The South Central region has some of the highest caseloads in the state, and the problem is only getting worse,” said Peter MacKinnon, DCF Chapter President for SEIU Local 509. “We’re at a crisis point right now, and social workers need more help to ensure we can protect at-risk kids and keep families together.”

The Church Street facility provides a variety of services to Department of Children & Families clients throughout South Central Massachusetts – including domestic violence counseling, supervised visits for families and case management for children in foster care. Social workers advised concerned families to contact their legislators at (617)722-2000 and urge immediate implementation of the caseload reduction agreement at Department of Children & Families.

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Sick Building Syndrome

The Health and Safety Committee is alive and well. Unfortunately, so is sick building syndrome. This is the biggest issue we face. We have a carbon dioxide machine that can measure how much carbon dioxide is present. The higher the carbon dioxide, the less oxygen you are getting.

Besides a lack of oxygen, a building, or HVAC system can be contaminated with mold, or other harmful chemicals; diesel fumes from idling trucks; carbon monoxide from cars near the intake openings; roofing tar, etc.

Please notify SEIU 509 if you feel like you are having medical side effects from the air quality in your building.

For more information about the Health and Safety Committee, please contact the union office.

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