Thursday, June 9, 2016

Wightman Specialty Wood - Portlandville, NY

The last day of the tour we visited Wightman Specialty Wood in Portlandville, NY (near Cooperstown).  We had an excellent tour of the mill, watching them de-bark the trees, slicing to large wood blocks, then cutting to size, kiln drying, and even making molding.  We then went to their small forest to see how they manage and cut down trees.  It was a really interesting tour, and I learned much from the experience.

Today, as the last day of the tour, we say goodbye to each other.  It was a great pleasure to tour with this group.  Everyone participated and I felt that there was a real connection between all on the bus.

The purpose of this trip is to increase the knowledge of occupational safety and health for our trainees, and there is no better way then for us to see workers working, especially in these dangerous job.  This trip has trainees from the NYNJ Education and Research Center (ERC), as well as from the ERCs in Cincinnati and Alabama and the Training Program in Industrial Hygiene at the University of Puerto Rico.  It was a pleasure travelling with you, and I am confident we met our goals for the trip!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Rock of Ages - Barre, VT

Today we visited Rock of Ages Granite Quarry in Barre, VT.  The quarry is a beautiful natural structure that produces Barre Grey granite.  We learned about the history of quarrying in Vermont, the workers who died from silicosis, and how procedures were put in place to eliminate exposure to silica dust.  The tour also provided a great opportunity to see how large blocks of granite are cut from the quarry, and how they are lifted for transport.  We had the opportunity to speak with the safety and health director of Rock of Ages, who answered lots of questions form our group.

After the quarry, we visited the mill, where the artisans create incredible pieces of art from the granite.  Many pieces are on display at Hope Cemetery.  We had a wonderful guide at Hope, who provided many stories on the history of the people buried at Hope.

Thanks to Todd and Jeff at Rock of Ages for sharing their knowledge and time with us.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Sappi Paper - Skohegan, ME

I started the day very early, and watched the sun rise over Casco Bay. It was a beautiful start of the day.  We travelled 89 north miles to Skowhegan, ME to visit the SAPPI Paper Mill.  This is our 3rd visit to SAPPI, and they have been great hosts. 

After a safety briefing and presentation on the overall operations of the plant, we started the tour of the paper mill.  Much of the operations are mechanized, and controlled by computers.  We are able to walk along the process to see how paper is made, concluding with the large (30 ton) rolls of high quality paper.  We then saw how the rolls are cut to size for specific orders, and are packaged for distribution.

I am very appreciative of Skip Pratt, the Safety and Industrial Hygiene Manager at Sappi for giving us a great tour.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Commercial Fishing Portland ME

Today we visited the Portland waterfront.  We started with a visit to the Portland Fish Exchange.  We saw hundreds of pounds of fresh fish that was ready for be purchased and shipped to markets across the Northeast.  Much of the fish was going to the Fulton Market in NYC. 

After the Fish Exchange, we went to the US Coast Guard Station in South Portland.  Half of the group went out onto the Maine Marine Patrol boats to see lobstermen pulling traps.  The other part of the group was learning how to put on immersion suits, jump into the water, and get into a life raft.  The groups switched, and were able to experience both parts of the day. 

We ended the day at Chase, Leavitt & Co., a marine supply, sales, and repair shop.  They’ve been in business since 1854!

Thank you to Ann Backus from the Harvard ERC for arranging the tour, as well as to the Maine Marine Patrol and the US Coast Guard for leading our group in these tours.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Boots Cotton Mills Museum - Lowell, MA

Today we left for the tour, heading to Lowell, Massachusetts, to visit the Boott Cotton Mill Museum and Mill Girls Exhibit.  The Boott Cotton Mill Museum showcases the looms used for over 100 years to weave fabric.  We were able to hear how loud the looms are, even though only a few were operating.  It is hard to imagine what it would have sounded like with all the looms in operation.  The museum has exhibits on different types of machinery, including the looms and carding machines.  Workers were frequently injured, including lacerations and amputations.  We then visited the Mill Girls Boarding House.  This is where the girls who worked in the mills lived while working in the mills.

You can also follow us on Facebook,

Friday, June 3, 2016

11th Historical Perspectives Tour

It is hard to believe but this is our 11th year conducting the Historical Perspectives on Occupational Safety and Health Tour.  The NYNJERC developed this tour to bring students to sites of historical and/or contemporary significance in the occupational safety and health and environmental fields.  This tour has been successful in bridging the OSH fields to better understand how occupational and environmental exposures have occurred, in order to prevent future exposures so that workplace conditions and health can be improved.

This year we are visiting:
June 5      Boott Cotton Mill, Lowell, MA
June 6      Fishing Vessel Safety, Portland, ME
June 7      Sappi Paper Mill, Skowhegan, ME
June 8      Granite Quarry, Barre, VT
June 9      Wightmans Lumber and Logging, Portlandville, NY

Follow us through the blog, as well as on Facebook (