We’ve all heard of the Adkins Diet, the South Beach diet, low-fat diets and all sorts of other crazy diets to help us lose unwanted pounds. I recently heard of a “No CARB” diet that I’m planning to adopt November 2nd to help rid me of some unwanted weight and you should consider trying it too.


It stands for:


No Cheney

No Ashcroft

No Rumsfeld

No Bush


And positively no Rice!


Seriously, we all really need to do whatever we can to get out the vote; there may never be a more important election to working (and retired) men and women than this one.


Sorry, back to the diets. What is an essential activity each of these diets requires of us? They all need the very same thing to be effective, what is it? If you haven’t guessed, all of these fad diets require us to read the labels. Food and Drug Administration regulations mandate certain nutritional information be displayed on all foods. We need to know, we want to know, we have the right to know what we’re putting in our bodies.


The same can be said about the hazardous materials we work with. You have a right to know exactly what chemicals you’re being exposed to (breathing, absorbing or ingesting) and what you’re bringing home with you on your skin and/or clothing every day!


Did you know you have a right to know about the hazards associated with the Hazardous Materials you work with, prior to being exposed?  Caterpillar has the legal obligation to provide you access to the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for any hazardous material(s) you may be exposed to during the shift you request it. You also have a right to a copy of that MSDS for your own personal records, but why would you want that?


Many times I receive phone calls from active or retired members of our Local asking me what I can do to get information about particular Hazardous Materials they’ve worked during their career. They may be experiencing work-related health problems and need specific information. Sometimes I get calls from the surviving spouse, calling to ask what I know about the Hazardous Materials that were in the area their departed loved one worked. Often times, I’m the last stop on a dead-end trail looking for answers as to what went wrong.


I don’t know anybody that enjoys looking up hazardous materials on HM100. This system can be very boring and after a while everything starts to look the same. But the HM100 information in addition to the MSDS can be a useful tool to help you in a time of need. These documents give you a good idea of what you’re being exposed to, how you’re being exposed to it and what to do to avoid exposure. In addition, the information includes symptoms of exposure and the exact identity of the hazardous components or their effects.


These documents may be difficult to understand because they are full of terms we’re not used to seeing, but the important thing is for you to get them. If you’re having health problems, ask for the MSDS’s for the hazardous materials you work with and around (it’s always best to make the request in writing) and check the symptoms to see if they’re the same as you are experiencing. Take the MSDS’s with you to any visits to the Company Doctor or your own personal physician.


Report any concerns to First-Aid and document your visit. This gives the Company a chance to address your problem, but don’t be surprised if they take samples and tell you that the amounts detected are below OSHA Permissible Exposure Limits (PEL’s). Most of the time, PEL’s are set well above levels that will cause symptoms and it’s the symptoms that tell us we’re being exposed. If you’re not satisfied with the outcome or don’t feel your concerns have been fully considered, ask for your UAW Safety Representative and start the Safety Complaint Procedure. Your Safety Rep has access to many resources that may be able to help you resolve your problem.


In closing, be an informed user of hazardous materials. Exposure to hazardous materials and the health effects of exposure to them account for many times the number of deaths and disabilities caused by accidents. If you need help, ask for your UAW Safety Rep. As I like to say, “We’re from the UAW, we’re here to help”.



Steve Mitchell