June 19, 2020
The Northwest Center for Occupational Health and Safety (NWCOHS) stands in solidarity with Black communities. We are especially mindful of the recent victims of racist violence: Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Rayshard Brooks. Our thoughts and condolences go out to their families and loved ones as well as those of Manuel Ellis, Charleena Lyles, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Philando Castile, and the many other Black lives unjustly taken by police brutality and racist violence. Being situated in a university institution, we also take note of Black students, staff, and faculty who have been and continue to deal with the stress and trauma experienced in navigating racist academic and societal spaces. With this injustice in mind, we pause and reflect on how the NWCOHS operates in perpetuating systemic racism.
The NWCOHS is dedicated to protecting and improving the health and wellbeing of workers. We recognize the impact of racism in our society as a central cause of the hazardous occupational conditions and disproportionate burden of poor health experienced among Black workers, other workers of color, and their communities. Multiple factors have contributed to this burden, such as the historical and continued systematic denial of access to high quality, healthy and safe work; secure jobs with adequate pay; fair treatment and welcoming work environments; and, healthcare and other job-mediated benefits; which have resulted in disparate rates of work-related injury and illness.
Our commitment to worker health and safety necessitates internal examination of how our structures and we individually have contributed to racism and oppression, and re-directing our efforts in education, training, research, services, and community collaborations to promote anti-racism and anti-oppression, as well as shift the injustice that so many communities of color and other marginalized groups routinely encounter.
Toward this end, we are convening a workgroup of faculty, staff, student trainees, and external advisors to identify actions to institute anti-racist and anti-oppression content and processes throughout our curricula, research investment, and operations in support of Black workers, other workers of color, and their communities. We will establish mechanisms to report our progress for the purpose of transparency and accountability.