Sharpening Their Health and Safety Skills

Categories: VA, Veterans, Training, The Insider

Hundreds of AFGE and National VA Council Safety and Health representatives across the country recently met for a three-day training to sharpen their skills and learn new techniques in workplace safety. 

Under this year's Prepare & Prevent theme, participants attended a variety of sessions and heard from dynamic speakers during the plenary sessions. Worker health and safety is a core union value. The goal of the health and safety conference is to support the AFGE representatives and activists who work every day to make sure that the federal and D.C. government workplace is safe and healthful. 

The conference featured more than two dozen courses on topics ranging from emergency and disaster preparedness to indoor environmental quality. There were a number of hands-on courses, which included a session on safe patient handling where participants received training on state-of-the-art equipment designed to reduce patient and staff injuries. 

The opening plenary included remarks from VISN 7 Network Director Leslie Wiggins and author Suzanne Gordon. Gordon has written numerous books and articles on the health care industry. As she addressed the attendees of this conference, she stressed the high quality of care delivered at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the importance of fighting against privatization.  

During the conference AFGE National Veterans Affairs Council President Alma Lee was presented with a certificate of appreciation from VISN 7 for her loyalty and selfless service to the dedicated employees at the VA. 

“This conference is important for our members because it offers an opportunity for them to increase their knowledge, develop their technical skills, and connect with experts and other activists,” said Lee. “It empowers our leaders and activists to raise concerns, identify hazards and more importantly, get hazards and exposures eliminated or reduced.” 

Additional reflections from the conference: 

“Through the workshops offered at the conference, attendees learn about current health and safety issues and union strategies to resolve them. It also enables them to be more involved in collaborative efforts with management to reduce injuries and illnesses.” 


-Milly Rodriguez, AFGE Health and Safety Specialist  

“It’s a great training with lots of information. We’ve had lots of time to go through examples and all the instructors know what they are talking about.” 


-Dave Bump, AFGE Local 2157 2nd Vice President and NVAC National Representative 

“The training has been excellent. I have come every year they have had this particular training. Each and every time no matter what course I take I learn something new. I am able to really utilize the training in my day to day activities representing our staff at the Hampton VA Medical Center.” 


-Sheila Elliott, AFGE Local 2328 President  

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