“Nancy Clark is an inspiring health and safety advocate who leads by example”, observes Matt Root, president, Canadian Auto Workers (CAW), Local 555. “The countless hours Nancy puts in over and above her workday, reflects her dedication to health and safety for all workers.”
Nancy Clark is the full-time health and safety co-ordinator for CAW, Local 555. The local union represents support staff at McMaster University as well as at regional medical associates as far away as Sioux Lookout Hospital. Numbering over 2,200 members, many in the local have come to rely on Nancy for health and safety leadership and assistance. Nancy has been instrumental in establishing the local’s 20 health and safety committees, and recruiting over 125 health and safety representatives and activists to steer them.
Nancy started at McMaster in 1978 in Neurosciences, and in 1980 working at its Occupational and Environmental Health Laboratory. A Workers Health & Safety Centre-trained (WHSC) instructor, Nancy has taught hundreds of hours of courses both inside and outside of her workplace.
“Once trained, members are more aware of health and safety issues,” says Clark. “Ergonomics has been one of the biggest issues — musculoskeletal injuries from work station set-up and work procedures have always been a problem. As workers received training about ergonomic hazards, issues were reported, thereby allowing us to deal with situations before they caused more injuries. We’ve come a long way in three years.”
Clark and others have been able to make a lot of progress in the area of slips, trips and falls as well. For instance, the McMaster joint health and safety committee (JHSC) convinced the university to install concrete instead of asphalt surfaces on campus because they are much less slippery.
To get the job done Nancy wears many hats. At McMaster University, Nancy is the faculty of health sciences JHSC worker co-chair. She is the worker co-chair for the central McMaster committee, which is comprised of representatives of all the unions at McMaster. Always ready to share her expertise, Nancy also serves on McMaster’s WSIB/Return to Work/Long Term Disability Committee. At the Hamilton and District Labour Council Nancy participates on the education committee, the health and safety/WSIB/environment committee, and the Hamilton Training Advisory Board. She is also the CAW representative on the Mohawk College Labour Studies Advisory committee.
Looking forward to future health and safety solutions, Clark is excited about a new Brock/McMaster University initiative. “We have been getting together to compare health and safety hazards, procedures and initiatives at the two workplaces — seeing what works, and what doesn’t. We hope to find new ideas to make both universities safer,” says Clark.
“It’s a wonder Nancy gets any sleep at all,” muses Don Fraser, president, Hamilton and District Labour Council. Recognizing her tireless efforts, Nancy was honoured last May with a volunteer activist award co-sponsored by the Hamilton labour council and Workers Centre.