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David M. Newman, NYCOSH’s Longtime Industrial Hygienist, Retires
“The goal is to identify hazards and contribute to the ability to effectively address them, but I think the goal is also to in the process of doing that, to empower unions and workers to take on more of that themselves as active players in occupational safety and health rather than passive recipients.”
– David M. Newman on his IH philosophy
Dave Newman retired as NYCOSH’s Industrial Hygienist on October 31st after being with NYCOSH for 18 years. His commitment to social justice and the labor movement began when he was active in the 60s student movement as a member of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and studied Sociology at CUNY’s City College. With a semester to go, he dropped out to go work at the phone company. Dave was a frame worker for New York Telephone and a member of Communications Workers of America (CWA), Local 1101 (New York Telephone Company workers) where he was a Union activist for 27 years.
Dave’s analysis about the changing telecommunications industry is included in the book “Race on the Line: Gender, Labor and Technology in the Bell System 1880-1980” by Venus Green. In the mid-90s Dave was recruited by David Kotelchuck to study at Hunter College and pursue an industrial hygiene career. He retired early from the phone company and started at NYCOSH in September of 1998.
During his tenure at NYCOSH, Dave worked directly with workers, diverse unions, worker committees, and conducted on-site evaluation of environmental and occupational safety and health hazards, including exposure assessment, sampling and interpretation of sampling results, and options for hazard controls.
As NYCOSH’s IH, Dave has made important contributions and has been recognized nationally in the field for working with colleagues and in coalition to coordinate NYCOSH’s response to the 9/11 disaster. He coordinated World Trade Center Health and Safety project, served on the Exposure Assessment Working Group of the WTC Worker and Volunteer Medical Screening Program and served on the EPA World Trade Center Expert Technical Review Panel, appointed by then Senator Clinton. The WTC Community Labor Coalition paved the way to Zadroga legislation and public awareness. From the report “Protecting Worker and Community Health: Are We Prepared for the Next 9/11?”
The aggressive and persistent intervention, over a twelve year period and still ongoing, of broad-based coalitions composed of labor and community organizations and activists garnered increased attention to public health issues and challenged and ultimately strengthened government response efforts. These coalitions included labor, community, tenant, environmental, public health, immigrant rights, disability rights, and faith-based organizations, parent and student groups, and elected officials. Significant contributions to these efforts were made by, among many others, the World Trade Center Community Labor Coalition, NYCOSH, Beyond Ground Zero, 9/11 Environmental Action, Congressperson Jerrold Nadler, the NYC chapter of the Sierra Club, the FealGood Foundation, and many unions. Working separately and together, these groups and activists surmounted the artificial barriers that traditionally separate the occupational, environmental, and public health communities.
Dave has authored numerous reports at NYCOSH as well as articles in peer-reviewed journals. He holds masters’ degrees in Labor Studies and Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences and is a member of the American Industrial Hygiene Association, the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists, and the American Public Health Association. He served as chief steward for both the Communications Workers of America and the United Steel Workers.
NYCOSH is thankful for Dave’s contributions and his colleagues wish him a happy retirement.