|U.S. Centers for Disease Control Awards Grant to Queens College and Make the Road New York to Help Immigant Laborers|
--Goal of Research
Project Is to Improve Working Conditions in Post-Disaster Settings--
FLUSHING, N.Y., December 9, 2013 –The destruction of the World Trade
Center has shown that conditions after disasters can be very dangerous, both
short and long-term, for the workers involved in cleanup and reconstruction.
Post-Superstorm Sandy workers may also be facing threats to health and safety.
Now, thanks to a federal grant of $547,000,
the Center for the Biology of Natural Systems (CBNS) at Queens College of the
City University of New York and the immigrant-focused organization Make the
Road New York, that will be less likely to occur. This two-year grant, which began
September 30, 2013, was awarded by the National Institute for Occupational
Safety and Health (NIOSH) of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to conduct
research on improving working conditions for immigrant construction laborers in
It is part of the federal government’s response to the needs created
by Sandy’s devastation. This project will fill important gaps in knowledge
about the prevalence of unsafe working conditions in this post-hurricane
environment and will develop and test methods of addressing those hazards.
Says Steven Markowitz, M.D., director of the CBNS: “Given what we all
learned from the illness of workers engaged in clean-up of Ground Zero, it is
critical to prevent post-disaster workers from becoming ill when we are
uncertain about the hazards. We do this by educating them and providing them
with proper protective equipment.”
Make the Road New York works with immigrant laborers in Queens, Staten
Island, and Brooklyn, as well as Brentwood (Long Island). Once recruited for
this project, the laborers will be trained and will conduct more than 200
worksite safety and health hazard assessments. Whatever is preventing, or
helping to ensure, safe work conditions will be identified through focus groups
As a result, CBNS and Make the Road New York expect to identify new
training content and methods to address workplace safety and health hazards for
immigrant workers. This material will be
disseminated to community groups, labor organizations, the public health community,
and other concerned parties.
Other partners in this project include the CUNY School of Public
Health, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, New
Perspectives, Inc., and Maria Brunette, PhD.
Make the Road New York (MRNY) is a non-profit, citywide,
membership-led organization that builds the power of immigrant and working
class communities to achieve dignity and justice through organizing, policy
innovation, education, and support services.
MRNY has 13,000+ members and operates four community centers in Bushwick,
Brooklyn; Jackson Heights, Queens; Port Richmond, Staten Island; and Brentwood,
The Center for the Biology of
Natural Systems at Queens College,
CUNY, is an environmental and occupational health research institute that
identifies and helps rectify environmental and occupational threats to human
health. Its researchers continue to monitor and address the health risks of
first responders at the World Trade Center, as well as workers in U.S. nuclear
bomb plants. CBNS recently completed a four-year project monitoring air quality
at street level throughout the city. Its director, Steven Markowitz, is an
occupational medicine physician (MD and doctorate in epidemiology from Columbia
University) who also serves on the faculty of the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine.