Chicago Area Committee on Occupational Safety and Health

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CACOSH - Circa 1980 Front row — Pat McGuire, Lou Pardo, Loretta Schuman, Joel Swartz. Back Row — William Kojola, Dan Hanks, Jean MacGraine

Chicago Area Committee on Occupational Safety and Health


The Chicago Area Committee on Occupational Safety and Health (CACOSH) was founded in 1972 as a not-for-profit-organization of unions and health and legal professionals. The founders included Quentin Young, MD, Lou Pardo - IAM Tool & Die Makers; Peter Orris MD; and Frank Rosen –UE among others.

Young, Orris and Rosen all had some affiliation to the Communist Party USA.

CACOSH was the first COSH group in the country and provided the inspiration and model for the 18 groups now working in all parts of the nation.

In 1972, the Medical Committee for Human Rights (MCHR) sponsored a conference in conjunction with area unions and health professionals. CACOSH grew out of that conference, because local union members decided that they needed an organization, run by union members, that would give them ongoing help on job safety and health problems.

The CACOSH motto was “No one is going to solve our problems for us, we had to do it ourselves.” The health professionals in MCHR helped educate union members about what their jobs were doing to their health.

CACOSH grew from a handful of people in a few local and district unions to an organization of more than 50 locals from 20 different international unions. Thousands of workers have participated in CACOSH and benefited from the education and training they have provided, and have shared their skills and knowledge with each other[1].


CACOSH is an occupational health and safety resource, providing education, information and advice to labor unions, community organizations and individual workers, both union and non-union. CACOSH advocates for the right of all workers to a safe and healthy workplace. A Medical-Technical Committee of volunteers does training, writes “Fact Sheets”, conducts research, and publishes a newsletter[2].