Municipal Government

MTA Refuses Federal Safety Grant

LaborPress has obtained a copy of a letter from New York City Transit President Thomas Prendergast refusing a $1 million program grant offer from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), a federal agency charged with conducting research and making recommendations for the prevention of work-related injury and illness.

The $1 million grant would have “focused on the health and wellness of transit workers in New York City,” according to a letter to Prendergast sent on June 10 from two doctors at NIOSH, Matthew Groenewold and Sherry Baron.

According to TWU Local 100 Director of Occupational Health Frank Goldsmith, the grant team had obtained a sign-off from EmblemHealth, the insurance carrier handling most transit worker health claims, to make their records available to examine all cardiac-related illnesses and injuries among transit workers, preserving their confidentiality. But NYCT objected that the program “raised considerable business, policy, legal and ethical considerations surrounding the wholesale transfer of health claims information (even with certain identities removed) without informing the employees and retirees that this would occur and securing their informed consent.”

TWU Local 100 officials reacted with anger to NYCT’s refusal to participate in the NIOSH study, which would have examined some 40,000 health claims records to gather data on cardiovascular disease in transit workers. Said Stations Department Vice President Maurice Jenkins, “it looks like Transit wants us to die faster so they can save on pensions.”

August 12, 2010

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