Transportation workers report near-misses, sleepiness in study
Pilots and train operators are chronically sleepy and make more fatigue-related errors than the general public, a U.S. study found. About one in four of the pilots and rail workers reported that sleepiness affects their job performance at least once a week, compared with one in six non-transportation workers, according to the survey by the National Sleep Foundation.
Trucker fatigue rule faces detour through courts
Nobody is happy with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s new rule governing how long truckers can drive and when they must rest. A safety group has gone to court against the agency, calling the rule too lax, while the trucking industry has filed a suit calling it too strict. And both sides point to the same data to back their claims.
California cellphone ban reduced traffic related deaths, injuries, Berkeley study finds
California’s nearly four-year-old ban on drivers using handheld cellphones is saving lives, according to a University of California, Berkeley, study released Monday. The study found that overall traffic deaths dropped 22 percent, while deaths blamed on drivers using hand-held cellphones were down 47 percent. Deaths among drivers who use hands-free phones dropped at a similar rate.
Florida wage-theft laws could be blocked by GOP bill
A bill moving through the Florida legislature would kill any local laws designed to help workers recover wages owed by their employers, prompting demonstrations against businesses in the state that support the legislation. The measure would prohibit municipal governments from instituting local wage-theft ordinances, effectively spiking a landmark 2010 law in Miami-Dade County that has helped workers recoup roughly $400k in backpay from their employers — the first law of its kind in the country.
Navy to place breath-test machines on all its ships
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus is ordering the installation of breath-test machines on all ships and submarines, as well as on Marine Corps bases. The problem generally is not that sailors are showing up blitzed to work, Mabus said in an interview. It’s that alcohol is surfacing as a factor in a host of social and professional ills that are increasingly of concern to the Navy brass: sexual assault, domestic problems, suicide, even poor physical fitness.
Internal review outlines missed inspections, weak enforcement at UBB
Federal regulators failed to inspect key parts of the Upper Big Branch Mine, did not properly step up enforcement actions, and missed major coal-dust violations prior to the April 2010 explosion that killed 29 miners, according to a new government report being released this morning. U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration enforcement efforts at the Raleigh County operation were severely compromised because agency officials — from rank-and-file inspectors to top managers — did not follow established MSHA policies and procedures, according to a long-awaited “internal review” report on the Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster.
Daylight at last for study of diesel lung cancer risks
After 20 years of research and almost as many years fighting industry groups in court for control of their data, government scientists can finally publish two papers showing that underground miners exposed to diesel fumes have a threefold increased risk for contracting lung cancer. The study could have a significant impact on an upcoming review of federal and international safety regulations for exposure to diesel fumes.
OSHA establishes local emphasis program to protect workers on Wisconsin dairy farms from common hazards
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has established a local emphasis program to protect workers from hazards found on Wisconsin dairy farms, such as those related to manure storage, lack of vehicle roll-over protection, machine guarding, confined spaces and animal handling.
Maker of a hair-straightening product settles lawsuit
The manufacturer of the popular hair-straightening product Brazilian Blowout, the subject of government inquiries and health complaints, said on Monday that it had agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit. Brazilian Blowout can no longer market its product as “formaldehyde free,” and the company must provide more detailed instructions on how to use it safely.
Chilling dissent on Wall Street
Whistleblowers have been under intense scrutiny in Washington lately, at least when it comes to the national security state. In recent years, the Obama administration has set a record by accusing no fewer than six government employees, who allegedly leaked classified information to reporters, of violating the Espionage Act, a draconian law dating back to 1917. Yet when it comes to workers who have risked their careers to expose misconduct in the corporate and financial arena, a different pattern has long prevailed.