2012 Death on the Job Report
Since Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act in 1970, workplace safety and health conditions have improved. But too many workers remain at serious risk of injury, illness or death. This year’s edition of “Death on the Job” details not only the data about workplace death, injuries and illnesses, but also the reasons behind them and what must be done to save lives.
A tale of two rules: Washington bureaucracy and the politics of workplace safety
Many laws are proposed in this town, but only some are passed. The same is true of regulations—except the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), rather than Congress, is in control of the process. A look at the different fates of two different workplace safety rules reveals the Obama administration’s election year priorities, workplace safety advocates say. As I’ve reported, OMB has for more than 14 months delayed implementation of a proposed Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rule that regulates workers’ exposure to cancer-causing silica dust. But it recently required less than one month to approve (and send out for public comment) a USDA rule that could harm the safety of poultry workers.
Lack of federal poultry regulation will harm animals, workers and consumers
The USDA put its plans on hold to allow time for more public comment after public outcry erupted over concerns of sanitation and worker safety over a USDA proposal to pull federal line inspectors out of poultry slaughterhouses, handing over the job almost entirely to chicken companies. A brilliant idea — take the watchdogs out of the equation and let the crooked, greedy companies regulate themselves!
Ideas galore on ways to speed process for new worker safety protections. Where is the leadership to implement them?
Earlier this month, the U.S. Government Accountability Office issued a report on the snail’s pace of the OSHA process of issuing new rules to protect workers from health and safety hazards on-the-job. One telling table in the document showed the agency issued about 20 new major regulations in each of the previous two decades (i.e., 24 in the 1980′s and 23 in the 1990′s), but during the 2000′s, OSHA only issued 10 final rules.
Wal-Mart to pay $4.8m in back wages
The Labor Department on Tuesday ordered Wal-Mart to pay $4.8m in back wages and damages to thousands of employees who were denied overtime charges, the latest in a string of embarrassments for the company over its business practices.
Union, Exxon scrap over refinery contract, safety
Negotiations for a new contract covering hourly workers at Exxon Mobil Corp’s refinery in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, has become a scrap over a proposal on worker safety, The United Steelworkers union (USW) said on Friday. The USW said Exxon has failed to offer a key safety provision of the national contract agreed to by oil companies and the USW in February, and which four of Exxon’s refineries approved at that time.
Twenty-five years after L’Ambiance, worker safety still an issue
Twenty-five years ago last Wednesday, a colleague of ours was at his desk in the old Bridgeport Post newsroom when a co-worker, looking out a rear window, witnessed the worst construction accident in Connecticut’s history. “Oh my god, the building collapsed,” he exclaimed. Just as some work remains potentially fatal, the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration remains slow to act on new safety regulations.
Sorrento fined $241K by OSHA
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has proposed $241k in fines to Sorrento Lactalis Inc. for 13 alleged repeat and serious violations of workplace health and safety standards at its South Buffalo production facility. Authorities identified several deficiencies in the cheese manufacturing plant’s process safety management program, a detailed set of requirements and procedures employers must follow when using large amounts of hazardous chemicals.
Lab accident at San Francisco VA leaves man dead of bacterial meningitis
A young lab assistant at the VA Medical Center in San Francisco died on Saturday after becoming infected with a deadly strain of bacterial meningitis that he had been working with in the lab.