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At the Point of Production: The Social Analysis of Occupational and Environmental Health
Edited by Charles Levenstein
Work, Health and Environment Series, Series Editors, Charles Levenstein, Robert Forrant, and John Wooding

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"From its analysis of stick-up artists on city buses in Brazil to its discussion of the work of the women who glue together Nikes and Adidas in the Philippines, At the Point of Production takes a fascinating look at the health threats to workers in the U.S. and abroad. I strongly recommend Professor Levenstein's book to teachers, labor unionists, and health educators."
—Dan Berman, author of Death On the Job

"Theoretically, ideally, work-related deaths and physical, mental, and moral injuries, many severe and lasting, are all preventable. Yet these personal and societal losses continue, worldwide, affecting many millions of workers and their families every year. How can this be? This scientifically sound and scholarly thorough collection, edited by Charles Levenstein, goes a long way toward answering this question and points out some of the ways workers and their unions can better organize to educate and protect themselves. The field of Workers' Health and Safety (WHS) in the Capitalist World System is inherently adversarial. The bosses and their surrogates (managers, supervisors, agents, corporate lawyers, business agents, etc.) do what they do in order to make a buck off the work of those they employ. The workers, whether protected by a good union or not, hope to provide the basics of living for themselves and their families, plus a little bit more (not only bread, but roses too). If the owners can cut costs, including expensive health and safety items - for example, an air-purifying system, effective right at the point of production where the welding flames touch the metal and produce toxic fumes - then they will do it, and perhaps substitute a look-good but unsafe general air-circulation system. To fight this, workers need to join together in effective, democratically controlled unions, and they need top-notch WHS experts working for and educating them. This book offers a framework to understand how WHS problems occur in our increasingly interdependent, exploitative world and offers promising ways of struggling toward the day when women and men workers of every ethnic origin and nationality will trust that their days at work will be safe and healthy. "
—Ray Elling, Ph.D., Emeritus Professor of Health Sociology, UConn Health Center, Farmington, CT

"This volume provides an insightful, thought-provoking analysis of critically important issues in occupational and environmental health."
—Barry S. Levy, M.D., M.P.H., Adjunct Professor of Public Health, Tufts University School of Medicine, Past President, American Public Health Association

"At the Point of Production shines a much-needed spotlight on a host of current and critical issues—from the impact of privatization to sexual harassment in the workplace. This book is sure to stimulate discussion and opportunities for action.
—Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, Executive Director, Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health

Point of Production explored important new territory in understanding the place of occupational health and safety in the context of the broad political economy. The authors were creative in their application of systems analysis and identified the marked changes occurring as globalization progressed. But much was hypothetical. In this follow-up monograph, At the Point of Production, Charles Levenstein has gathered an excellent group of essays that expand on the ideas in the earlier work, with respect particularly to aspects related to economic development, gender, ethics, and the environment. The contributions are designed both to explore the implications of the model presented in the earlier monograph and to understand much better how the rapidly changing world has affected workers' health and opened avenues of opportunity for positive change that were not previously evident. This work is essential for all serious students of political economy and of workers' health.
—David Wegman, Dean of Health and Environment, School of Health and Environment, University of Massachusetts, Lowell

"There are very few people who have done as much good work on the relationship between the working environment and health as Charles Levenstein. His latest edited volume is a reference that should be included in every study that touches on the enormous importance of work and environment in determining the levels of health and social well-being of our populations. It should be read widely."
—Vicente Navarro, Professor of Health Policy, The Johns Hopkins University, Editor-in-Chief, International Journal of Health Services

"This collection of essays is about the degradation of the working environment or, more precisely, the degradation of the health of the human beings who work under the daily constraints of a rapacious political economy. Laid bare are the multiform varieties of hazards—physical, chemical, environmental, and psychological—and their consequences for people's lives and well-being in the contemporary world of work organized in the global value chain. Levenstein and his colleagues take us significantly further than their previous analyses of the working environment. In so doing, they renew academic and policy debate. Many readers may find these studies troubling, but few will be able to ignore their wider implications."
—Charles Woolfson, Chair of Labour Studies, University of Glasgow

"If, for any reason, I happened to forget I am a social scientist, this book would remind me of it. If, for any reason, I happened to think that the United States, Asia, Latin America, and other parts of the world are a long way from Central-Eastern Europe, where I live, this book would convince me of the opposite. If, for any reason, I believed there were no researchers in the field of occupational and environmental health who are committed to the cause, this book would fundamentally change my opinion. Should all these things happen to me, all I would have to do is take up this intelligent, analytical, and deeply committed book and read it again.
—Zsuzsanna Füzesi, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the FACT Institute of Applied Social Science Research, Pecs, Hungary

"This important book is a timely collection of contributions that address the social economic and political determinants of health of workers in the global economy. It helps to update and extends previous analysis, and represents a significant contribution to debate on the serious issues it raises on the ways of understanding and responding to the exploitation of labor in modern economics."
—Prof. David Walters, Director, Cardiff Work Environment Research Centre, Cardiff University, Wales

"At the Point of Production is full of lessons and stimulating ideas; it presents the results of intense and positive studies in the field of workers' health and the work environment. The book will be useful to everyone, individuals and groups, in the industrialized and the newly industrializing countries. These are lessons that only the United States could develop and disseminate."
—Francesco Carnevale, Occupational Medicine Physician, National Health System Lecturer, University of Florence, Italy

"At the Point of Production provides a very interesting and comprehensive social analysis of occupational and environmental health. From the international, national, and local perspectives, the authors provide readers with an in-depth understanding of the historical, social, economic, and political context of issues related to policy development. The influences of management, government agencies, and labor, their roles and responsibilities, and the consequences of various policy decisions in occupational and environmental health are also well described and documented. This book is a must read for occupational and environmental health researchers and practitioners, for sociologists and economists, and for graduate students, particularly those students interested in pursuing careers in occupational and environmental health."
—Andrea Kidd Taylor, Dr.P.H., M.S.P.H., Assistant Professor, Morgan State University, School of Community Health and Policy, Former Member, U.S. Chemical Society and Hazard Investigation Board

"After reading this inspiring book, you will never see occupational health and safety as a technical issue. It is pure politics, in the noblest sense of the word. The book examines the social dynamic of class and gender health inequalities. Using plenty of examples, the authors demonstrate how important it is for workers to have control over their conditions at work."
—Laurent Vogel, Director, Health and Safety Department, European Trade Union Institute

At the Point of Production, a compilation of contributions to New Solutions Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health Policy, locates workers' health and safety problems in the broad political economy. It argues that without a deep understanding of the social/political/economic context of particular industries or workplaces, we cannot fully grasp the process of recognition and control of industrial hazards. The contributors report on a series of case studies, all of which used the "point of production" framework to investigate particular problems or industries. The focus of the first section is on globalization, the impact of privatization on the health and safety of workers and communities in Brazil and Mexico. The next section addresses environmental issues: the unintended effects of environmental regulation on workers, the situation of hazardous waste workers and emergency responders, the implementation of toxics use reduction, and the role of workers in pollution prevention. In the third section the contributors explore the intersection of labor relations with gender relations at the point of production. A final chapter deals with some of the practical issues involved in conducting occupational health research in the contested terrain of the workplace.

INTENTED AUDIENCE: Public health, occupational health, and environmental health professionals; policy analysts (political scientists and economists); graduate students in any of these fields; advocates of worker, community, and environmental health (intelligent lay readers).

Charles Levenstein, Ph.D., M.Sc., is an economist and policy analyst. He is Emeritus Professor in the Department of Work Environment, University of Massacchusetts, Lowell, retiring from teaching in 2003, and is adjunct professor of occupational health at Tufts University School of Medicine. Dr. Levenstein is one of the leading researchers concerned with social factors in occupational and environmental health. He chairs the advisory committee for United Steel Workers federally funded projects and for The New England Consortium, and he served on the IOM/NAS Committee on Health and Safety Needs of Older Workers. His most recent book (with Greg deLaurier and Mary Lee Dunn), The Cotton Dust Papers (2002), concerns the 50-year struggle for recognition of byssinosis ("brown lung") in the United States. Dr. Levenstein is Editor Emeritus of New Solutions, a quarterly peer-reviewed journal of occupational and environmental health policy, and coeditor of Baywood Publishing Company's Work, Health and Environment Series. He is a recipient of the American Public Health Association's award for lifetime contribution to occupational health.

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At the Point of Production: The Social Analysis of Occupational and Environmental Health

Editor: Charles Levenstein
Cloth ISBN:
ePub ISBN:
Page Count: 252
Copyright: 2009

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