MBA president earns national award for workplace safety

Issue November 2013

Massachusetts Bar Association President Douglas K. Sheff received a national award for workplace safety this month from the Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), which called Sheff's creation of a diverse and powerful Workplace Safety Task Force in Massachusetts a national model to be replicated by other states. The Task Force includes attorneys, judges, doctors, legislators, unions, insurance companies, the Attorney General's office and other leaders, who speak with one voice on a variety of safety issues.

WILG, the national nonprofit membership organization dedicated to representing the interests of millions of workers and their families, presented Sheff with its Special Recognition Award for Innovation and Community Service at its annual convention on Oct. 7 in Palm Beach, Florida. Sheff was honored for his leadership as chair and founder of the MBA's Workplace Safety Task Force, a multi-industry coalition that spearheaded education regarding workers' rights in countless blue collar communities throughout the commonwealth; a public awareness program to educate leaders in the law, business, medicine and government; and the passage of legislation designed to protect working families, such as the "Right to Know" law, which protects approximately 100,000 temporary workers yearly from unsafe and unfair conditions by mandating proper training, supervision and safety equipment.

"I am humbled to receive this award from WILG, a leading national voice for workers' rights and safety," said Sheff. "I am truly grateful for the support of my colleagues at WILG and everyone who worked with me on the MBA Workplace Safety Task Force, and I look forward to seeing our success story in Massachusetts repeated across the country."

WILG President Chuck Davoli, who is also chairman of Louisiana's newly formed State Workplace Safety Task Force, said: "I can personally attest that Doug's efforts in Massachusetts and his hands-on technical assistance were instrumental in getting Louisiana up and running, and has since also got the attention of at least six other states. As a result of Doug's leadership, his state's 'Right to Know' law for improved safety and avoidance of occupational injuries for temp workers is model legislation being replicated in other states." Davoli noted WILG will be using the so-called "Sheff Model" for workplace safety initiatives being considered in California, Illinois, New York, Connecticut, and Missouri.