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Workplace Health and Safety Update

Dear Union Colleagues,

The Workplace Health and Safety Committee has finally started meeting again.  This committee is made up of union representatives, management, and department representatives from Environmental Health and Safety, Emergency Management, Health Services, Facilities, and Public Safety.

The union representatives are:

Classified Staff:

Tyrone Kindell, Facilities

Shauna Lee Manning, American Studies

Michie Yasuda, Biology

Faculty Staff Union:

John Hess, NTT faculty

Deborah Metzel

Professional Staff Union:

Maureen Boyle, Economics

Erica Santos


The last WH&S meeting was held on Dec. 17, 2015.  One of the main topics was the asbestos in the dirt piles on campus.  Dorothy Renaghan, Assistant Vice Chancellor of Facilities, was present to answer our questions.  Here is the information we obtained from Dorothy Renaghan:

  •          The unions expressed concern that the email that went out to UMass Boston employees on Dec. 7 regarding the asbestos was not clear in its information, nor did it go out to students and graduate student employees on campus. 
  •          Licensed Site Managers are on campuses monitoring the dirt testing.
  •          Testing is done in real time (results come very quickly, rather than sending a sample off and waiting a week or two for a result) and is done daily.
  •          Asbestos is hazardous when airborne, so the tests for asbestos are done on the air near the dirt piles in various rotating spots.  So far, tests on the air have been negative for asbestos content.
  •          Testing and monitoring of the soil is ongoing with multiple tests done on each work shift.  Any results are and will be posted to the construction website.
  •          The contracted workers who left the job site did so as their own decision.  They were not told to leave by any campus authority, Environmental Protection Agency, etc.  Ms. Renaghan said that if contractors decide to stop working because of safety questions/concerns, the university does not object to their decision to do so.
  •          The green covering on the dirt piles is hydro seed, a substance to help hold the dirt together and prevent dust.  It contains seed that can grow so that roots can help create a barrier for the dirt.  Some of the piles have weeds, etc. but overall, there has not been much vegetative growth from the sprayed on substance. 
  •          Most of the dirt will be used again to cover the trenches/holes dug for the utility corridor project.  A cap will be put on top of 2 feet or so of clean soil to create a barrier between the landfill and the surface when construction is completed.
  •          More information about soil management safety procedures can be found at

The WH&S will continue to ask questions regarding the asbestos and landfill dirt piles in future meetings, and the union representatives will stay on top of this issue.

If you have question or concerns on the asbestos, dirt piles, or any other campus health and safety issues, please contact one of your union representatives on the WH&S committee.

The next meeting will be held on January 21, 2016.

UPDATE:  Shauna Lee Manning attended the Chancellor’s Steering Committee for Health and Safety on Jan. 8.  The latest information on the construction workers returning that work on the road corridor and in the landfill dirt piles is that said workers will return as soon as the testing protocol with DEP is written and signed off by DEP.  Verbal agreements are in place; the delay is for the paperwork to be finalized according to Zehra Graham from the EHS office.