Here at the Laborers’ Health and Safety Fund of North America (LHSFNA), one of our goals is to see cancer dispatched to the history books. In both the United States and Canada, cancer accounts for nearly one in four deaths. This year alone more than half a million Americans are expected to die of the disease.
Advances continue to be made in cancer prevention, detection and treatment, but one in two men and one in three women in the United States and Canada are still expected to be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime. When this chilling news arrives, whether it’s for you or someone you love, everything changes. Lives are turned upside down, with entire families feeling the strain and costs quickly mounting. For those who survive cancer, the new normal is a heightened state of vigilance over every new freckle or painful muscle spasm, and that’s a stress no one should live with day in and day out.
Last year, the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA), through the LIUNA Charitable Foundation, and with support from the LHSFNA, participated as a Founding Partner in the inaugural U.S. Ride to Conquer Cancer®, a 150-mile bicycle journey that benefitted Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, Sibley Memorial Hospital and Suburban Hospital. These medical facilities in the Washington, D.C. and Baltimore communities are using cutting-edge scientific discoveries to customize treatment for each patient and develop better cancer screening and intervention techniques.
A group of LIUNA and LHSFNA staff members participated in the Ride as Team LIUNA, raising more than $60,000 for the event. All told, Team LIUNA and the LIUNA Charitable Foundation contributed $140,000 through this event that went directly to help cancer patients and aid in cancer research.
Team LIUNA hopes to do even better at this year’s Ride, which takes place September 19-20th and will benefit a fourth medical center this year with the recent addition of Howard County General Hospital. To find out how you can donate to help the cause, check out Team’s LIUNA’s page or the last article in this issue.
LHSFNA staff also continue to develop materials to help LIUNA members make lifestyle choices that reduce cancer risks and which signatory contractors can use to reduce workplace exposures that lead to cancer. As part of the Fund’s expanded Sun Sense Plus 2015 program, which aims to prevent both skin cancer and heat stress, Lifelines has been running a series of articles this summer on sun protection. That series concludes this month with Protecting LIUNA Members from the Sun Year Round.
Working to eradicate cancer is only one of the Fund’s many recent efforts to improve the health and safety of LIUNA members. This month also brings the launch of the LHSFNA’s new Site Safety and Health Program (SSHP). This online tool allows LIUNA signatory contractors to create individual safety and health programs customized for their company’s or jobsite’s specific needs.
When it comes to safety outdoors, we also want to remind members about the importance of being aware of weather conditions. Thunderstorms and lightning strikes are more likely this time of year, as are flash floods from heavy rains. Recently, parts of the Southern Plains were devastated by deadly flash floods, but other parts of the country are often affected on a smaller scale. Taking a few minutes to read this month’s article on flash flood safety will ensure that if you encounter fast-rising water, you know what to do.
Both members and signatory contractors will want to check out this month’s article from Jamie Becker, Associate Director of the Fund’s Health Promotion Division. The topic of medical and recreational marijuana use continues to generate many questions and misconceptions around the jobsite. With the latest court ruling from the Colorado Supreme Court, the situation just became a lot clearer for everyone involved.
Lastly, we want to remind everyone to pay attention while out on the road. Whether it’s because more young people are behind the wheel this time of year or because more people are traveling due to vacations, more fatal traffic accidents occur in August than any other month. Stay focused during these dog days of summer and stay safe.