Thursday, June 12, 2014

Boott Cotton, Lowell, MA and Everett Mill, Lawrence, MA

The last day of our tour we visited Boot Cotton Mill in Lowell, MA and the Everett Mill in Lawrence, MA. Prof. Robert Forrant, a labor historian at UMass Lowell, led our tour.  He provided a rich description of the mills and labor history of Lowell and Lawrence.

In Boott Mill, we saw working looms.  They are very loud, and we wore hearing protection during that part of the tour.  Afterward, we walked through the museum, and learned about the workers, the process, and the history of cotton mill work.

In Lawrence, we went to the Everett Mill, the location of the Bread and Roses strike in 1912.  We walked through town to see how massive the mills were, and the amount of real estate that they took up.  Our final stop in Lawrence was at the Pemberton Mill, where the building collapsed due to inadequate construction.  Over 100 workers died in the collapse and subsequent fire (

Thanks to everyone on the tour for making this a great experience!  

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Sappi Paper, Skowhegan, ME

Our visit to Sappi Paper showed us the process to make high end paper products, used in magazines, annual reports, and other high end uses.  Skip Pratt, the Industrial Hygienist at Sappi, gave us on overview of the process to make paper, the safety controls in place, and the management systems to ensure worker safety and health.

After viewing a safety video required of all visitor to Sappi and an overview presentation by Skip, we walked the floor of the paper mill.  We wore hearing protection and safety glasses. The noise level around the massive machines was about 90 dB.  The temperature was about 90°F.  Sappi has an extensive safety protocol system in place, including lock out/tag out, confined space entry, process safety management, and others.

It was great to visit Sappi, and thanks to Skip for the tour.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Commercial Fishing, Portland, Maine

What a great tour today!  We met Ann Backus (Harvard ERC) and Kevin Rousseau (Maine Department of Marine Resources) at the Gulf of Maine Resources Institute.  We split into two groups.  The first group went on the Maine Marine Patrol for a tour of the Portland Harbor.  We met a lobster boat and saw them pulling traps.  We were able to ask questions of the lobstermen.  We were able to see many hazards associated with lobstering, including ergonomic issues, slips, tangling in ropes, and others.  The other group was participating in a tour of the commercial fishing pier.  We visited Marine Liferaft, a company that inspects and services life rafts that are used on commercial fishing vessels.  We went to Brown Trading Co., a retail market that sells fish to the public in their retail store, as well as sells fish through their wholesale/restaurant side of the business.  Then we went to the Fish Exchange, where the fish is brought from the fishing vessels.  The Exchange’s primary function is offloading and auctioning of seafood.  Commercial fishing vessels are offloaded in the early morning.  The Exchange separates the catch by species of fish and market grade. The Exchange conducts auctions to determine the most accurate, up-to-date prices for wholesale fresh seafood.  And finally, we went to Vessel Services.  They produce and sell ice, as well as fuel and supplies for Maine's commercial fishing industry. 

We went back to the Gulf of Maine Resources Institute and had presentations on commercial fishing safety.  We then were able to sit in the DMR Commercial Fishing Safety Council meeting. They had interesting discussions on how to make the commercial fishing industry safer.  Tow issues were the towing height on A-frame on scallop boats, and fishing vessel examination requirements.

Thank you Kevin and Ann, as well as all the others who participated to make this an incredible learning experience for our group!

A video of the lobstermen pulling a trap:

Monday, June 9, 2014

Rock of Ages and Hope Cemetery, Barre, VT

We visited Rock of Ages Granite Quarry in Barre, VT (  We learned about the hazards faced by Quarry and mill workers.  We visited the quarry and looked at the type of operations taking place.  The quarry is 600 feet deep. This year the was bottom was filled with water (a brilliant green). They are working at the top of the quarry, so they do not need to pump out water. The quarry is working to create a “drive in” quarry that will reduce the need to hoist the granite out, and reduce operating costs. In the mill, you see the work of the artisans creating beautiful monuments.  Thanks to our tour guide John, and to Todd, the director of operations.

After Rock of Ages, we went to Hope Cemetery.  Here you will see some of the most unbelievable grave markers, mausoleums, and other memorial monuments.  Hope Cemetery is like a museum showing the talent of the sculptors.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Indian Ladder Farms, Altamont, NY

Our first stop on the tour was Indian Ladder Farms, in Altamont, NY ( .  We were met by owner, Peter Ten Eyck, and he provided a great overview of the operations at his farm.  The farm has been in the Ten Eyck family for 99 years, and he is the third generation farming the land, and one of his children is the fourth generation farmer.  Indian Ladder Farms was the first farm in Albany County to receive the state’s grant to retire the development rights.  The land is preserved, so that no development will ever take pace on this property.

Indian Ladder Farm is primarily an apple orchard, so of course, we did not see fruit on the trees now.  But we did see the work that it takes to ensure that an orchard is prepared for the growing season, and this is an operation that is ongoing throughout the year.

Peter talked about the health and safety issues, including chemicals used, and how the types of chemicals have changed over the years; personal protective equipment; ladder safety; sun exposure; and other issues workers face while working in the orchard.

We walked through the orchard and Peter explained the process of growing apples.  I don’t think we will look at apples the same.  Thanks for a great tour!

PS.  They have GREAT cider donuts!