No combustible dust rules from OSHA any time soon
New safety rules will not be approved any time soon even though they could prevent accidents like the ones last year at a Tennessee metal powders plant, where fireballs fueled by iron dust contributed to five deaths. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration is developing rules that would require many industries to better control combustible dust hazards. The rules were recently moved to a long-term agenda, despite pleas from the Chemical Safety Board to put them on the fast track.
Landmark diesel exhaust study stalled amid industry and congressional objections
Publication of a landmark government study probing whether diesel engine exhaust causes lung cancer in miners — already 20 years in the making — has been delayed by industry and congressional insistence on seeing study data and documents before the public does. A federal judge has affirmed the right of an industry group and a House committee to review the materials and has held the Department of Health and Human Services in contempt for not producing all of them.
Agribusiness fights to allow children to work in manure pits
Most child labor was prohibited in 1938, but there are a few exceptions for certain industries where children are still allowed to work. One of the biggest loopholes is the agricultural industry. The Department of Labor recently issued new proposed regulations restricting child labor on farms, regulations which are drawing intense opposition from politicians and agribusiness groups like the American Farm Bureau Federation.
Exploited Hershey students win small victory against guest worker exploitation
Last week, in a small victory for guest workers activists, the State Department announced that it had debarred guest workers recruiter Council for Educational Travel USA (CETUSA) from the J-1 cultural exchange guest worker visa program. CETUSA had provided student guestworkers to work in Hershey warehouses in Palmyra, Penn. As I reported last summer, these workers went out on strike with the help of local unions to protest being paid only $20-$40 per week after having pay deducted for high rent and other services.
OSHA proposes $21,500 penalty to firm where two 17 year olds lost legs
The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued citations last week to Zaloudek Grain Co. in Kremlin, Oklahoma for safety violations identified in its investigation of the August 4, 2011 incident in which two young workers each lost a leg. The citations listed six serious violations and a proposed penalty of $21,500.
Do unpaid internships exploit college students?
Employers often seem to flout the Labor Department rules about unpaid interns, but college students keep lining up for these positions year after year. Should government intervene, because the downsides of unpaid internships outweigh the benefits? Or should officials step back, assuming that this arrangement mutually benefits employers and interns? Read the discussion.
Commercial drones that controllers can’t see challenging U.S. air safety
Pilot groups are raising safety concerns about letting small unmanned aircraft fly in U.S. skies as Congress orders regulators to speed up introduction of drones for domestic, non-military use. The Federal Aviation Administration is about to issue its first rules to let businesses and local law enforcement fly drones in U.S. civilian airspace without special permits. The agency, under a defense bill passed in December, has until June to open six U.S. test sites where drones will fly with other traffic.
State investigating problems at morgue
The Illinois Department of Labor is investigating complaints about “worker safety issues” in the office of the Cook County Medical Examiner weeks after the Sun-Times reported that bodies were piling up there. The state’s labor department told the Sun-Times a week ago it was “aware” of conditions inside the office that included bodily fluids pooling on the floor of the storage cooler, and on Friday confirmed an ongoing investigation.
Apple worker protection petition gains momentum
Communications consultant Mark Shields is an Apple products fan who has decided to do something about the abuse claims at Apple supplier Foxconn’s manufacturing facilities in China. He has drafted a petition asking Apple to release a worker protection strategy for all new product releases. Shields is asking Apple to continue their motto of “thinking differently” and transfer that mentality over to protecting the laborers who build their products.