Parks Workers Handling Toxic Substances To Receive Training

Attorney General Spitzer today announced a settlement with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation that will improve training programs for Parks workers who routinely handle toxic substances. Under the terms of the settlement, workers will receive training on how leaks and spills of the specific toxic substances that they routinely handle should be cleaned up, and training on how to protect themselves from those toxic substances. The new training system, which is required under the State's "Right to Know" laws, replaces a system in which generic training was given, but the required training on specific toxic substances was not.

The settlement caps a four-year investigation in which the Attorney General's Office, the City, and union officials cooperated in creating a workable system for training over 4,700 Parks workers who handle wide varieties of toxic substances. The settlement creates a system for assuring the comprehensibility of the training, and provides for a suspended penalty to assure compliance.

"As part of our comprehensive efforts to protect New Yorkers from toxic substances, we will continue to aggressively pursue investigations to assure that public workers receive the training that they need to protect members of the public and themselves from toxic substances that they routinely handle," said Attorney General Spitzer. "This settlement achieves a practical, workable system that will provide significant improvements in protection from toxic substances with minimal costs to the taxpayers."

"With this agreement, our trained members will now be able to work more safely and return home whole," said Lillian Roberts, Executive Director of District Council 37, AFSCME, which filed the complaint and represents many of the effected employees.

The case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Michael Higgins, under the supervision of Labor Bureau Chief M. Patricia Smith and the Head of the General Labor Section, Pico Ben-Amotz.

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