Historical Perspectives Tour Gives Students Insight to Workplace Dangers

June 8, 2009
Students and faculty from six colleges and universities will travel through 150 years of history and cover more than 1,100 miles to explore the hazards faced by workers in industries that fueled America’s industrial dominance during the 20th century in the 4th annual Historical Perspectives Tour.

The tour, which begins 300 feet below the earth’s surface and ends at what has been called “one of the most appalling environmental tragedies in American history,” started June 7 in Scranton, Pa. It will explore sites that are historically significant to environmental and occupational health and safety – including a coal mine, steel plant, chemical factory and auto manufacturing plant – and will end June 11 at Love Canal in Niagara Falls, N.Y.

“The tour is unique in that it brings together students from different disciplines – including nursing, medicine, occupational safety and industrial hygiene and ergonomics – to work together to examine issues from different perspectives,” said Mitchel Rosen, director of the Office of Public Health Practice at the UMDNJ-School of Public Health and chief organizer of the annual Historical Perspectives Tour.

“Whether the issue is worker safety in a coal mine or the design of clothing and equipment for use in a chemical plant, the students have to consider not only protection, but functionality and whether or not long-term use could lead to injuries,” he added.

The 25 students and nine faculty members taking part in the Historical Perspectives Tour are from the UMDNJ-School of Public Health, Hunter College, New York University, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New Jersey Institute of Technology and the University of Cincinnati.

This year’s tour includes stops at the following locations:

  • June 7: Lackawanna Coal Mine, Scranton, Pa.
  • June 8: Rivers of Steel (Homestead Steel) and the NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) Personal Protective Equipment Lab, Pittsburgh, Pa.
  • June 9: Ford River Rouge Plant, Dearborn, Mich.
  • June 10: Brush Wellman Beryllium, Toledo, Ohio
  • June 11: Love Canal, Niagara Falls, N.Y.The tour is sponsored by the New York/New Jersey Education and Research Center, one of 17 such centers supported by NIOSH and is the only one that includes five different schools within the same center.
The tour is sponsored by the New York/New Jersey Education and Research Center, one of 17 such centers supported by NIOSH and is the only one that includes five different schools within the same center.

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