History and Achievements

The New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health grew out of informal, brown bag lunch meetings between health and safety activists and trade unionists in the middle to late 1970s. The federal Occupational Health and Safety Act had passed in 1970 and this group that included scientists, academics, doctors, lawyers, union representatives and rank-and-file workers discussed how to ensure that the new federal law provided the strongest possible protections to ordinary workers. They also examined problems in the workers’ compensation system and the latest scientific findings on workplace hazards.

In 1978, the committee held its first conference, “Cancer in the Workplace.” A year later, the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health was incorporated, with Deborah Nagin and David Michaels, now head of federal OSHA, as its first co-coordinators. NYCOSH quickly gained prominence as a leading, authoritative voice for worker safety and health. We have over the years:

- trained tens of thousands of workers in New York City, Long Island and the Hudson Valley;

- built coalitions of community, environmental, and labor organizations;

- conducted conferences on workers’ compensation, asbestos, office hazards, ergonomics and immigrant workers; and

- provided technical assistance on issues ranging from the aftermath of a wastewater treatment plant explosion and lab safety in schools.


Accomplishments and honors include:



Received an award from the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health for our “Work on Behalf of the Safety and Health of the Nation’s Workforce.”

Led a successful campaign to urge New York State’s congressional delegation to become cosigners of the federal Protecting America’s Workers Act and its successor legislation, the Robert J. Byrd Mine Safety and Health Act of 2010.

Assisted in coordinating the first federally sponsored New York City Action Summit on Latino/Immigrant Worker Safety and Health.

Organized with a coalition of community organizations and unions the NYCOSH Immigrant Safety and Health Council’s first conference.

Developed and ran new trainings on Green Jobs, Safe Jobs for building maintenance and operations workers.


Held first conferences on Safe Patient Handling in Manhattan and on Long Island.

Organized and trained immigrant workers about their rights to safe and healthy workplaces, including through ongoing mentoring project for immigrant workers on Long Island.

Played leading role in coalition that successfully fought proposal to give NYC Police regulatory authority over environmental monitoring equipment.

Responsible for proclamation of Teen Worker Safety Month by New York State Governor Paterson.


Conducted ninety OSHA Construction Safety & Health 10-Hour courses at NYC's School of Cooperative Technical Education (Co-Op Tech). This led to an in-house training program and an expanded safety and health component in the building trades curriculum at this NYC technical high school.


In aftermath of 9/11, led effort to educate public and rescue workers about hazardous exposures in Lower Manhattan:

Helped to organize the World Trade Center Community Labor Coalition.

Served on numerous 9/11 expert and public health panels, including Federal EPA World Trade Center Expert Technical Review Panel Exposure Assessment Group of the World Trade Center Worker and Volunteer Program; Labor Advisory Board of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Health World Trade Center Health Registry; and the Community Advisory Board of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation Environmental Health Clinic.


Accorded national honors with the American Public Health Association Occupational Health Section Award, for our World Trade Center work.

Led effort to stop proposal for New York City Police Department to require registration of environmental monitoring equipment.


Testified before Congress in favor of OSHA’s proposed Ergonomics Standard.


Received the New York State Health Department Health Education Award for Outstanding Health Education Programming.


Held one of nation’s first conferences for health care workers on tuberculosis, “Controlling TB in the Workplace.”


NYCOSH’s Repetitive Stress Task Force formed; holds numerous educational meetings and conferences.


Initiated and coordinated publicity and logistics for New York City’s first Workers’ Memorial Day.


NYC Community Right to Know Law passes.  Joel Shufro, NYCOSH’s Executive Director appointed as the representative of the New York City Council to the Hazardous Substance/Right to Know Advisory Board.

Suffolk County passes VDT bill, the first in the country to protect VDT operators.

NYCOSH subway campaign with posters asking “Is Your Job Killing You?”


New York State Legislature establishes and funds the nation’s first state network of occupational health clinics.


Two major legislative victories –

New York City and the state both pass asbestos control laws.

State legislature creates the Occupational Safety and Health Training and Education Program and allocates $2 million for safety and health training.


Published first edition of Inured on the Job: A Handbook for New York Workers. The booklet and a later edition in mid-1990s sell more than 15,000 copies nationwide.


NYCOSH’s Asbestos Task Force formed to fight for asbestos-control laws in New York City

Joined statewide COSH network in calling for laws mandating training for asbestos abatement workers

Held first conference on East Coast on asbestos hazards in the workplace.

Published booklet, “Pregnant and Working: What Are Your Rights?”


Testified before Congress in support of proposals to strengthen OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard.


Committee to Save OSHA formed to stop proposed congressional amendments that would have severely weakened the agency. Generated 35,000 letters to legislators and ran a full-page New York Times ad signed more than 1,000 citizens and 160 unions.

Played key role in winning passage of New York State Right to Know Law and Public Employees Safety and Health (PESH) Act.

Published Video-Display Terminal (VDT) booklet on VDT hazards, which sells 40,000 copies worldwide.

Held first conference on East Coast on VDT hazards.

NYCOSH Offices:

New York City
61 Broadway - Suite 1710
NY, NY 10006
(Fax) 212-227-9854

Long Island
150 Motor Parkway - Suite 306
Hauppauge, NY 11788
(Fax) 631-435-1893