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Archive for April, 2010

We wouldn’t dare attempt to put a dollar figure on the value of a person’s life, but we’re pretty sure it isn’t $13,300. Yet that was the average fine levied in Massachusetts against workplaces where safety violations resulted in death, according to a report released Wednesday.

There are proactive steps states can take to address occupational safety hazards and ensure people do not have to sacrifice their personal safety in exchange for a paycheck.

The U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration is hiring more inspectors, will visit work sites to check the accuracy of employee injury/illness reports, review employee medical records and talk to workers to see if companies are properly recording incidents.

In a move that will affect most American corporations, the Labor Department plans to require companies to prepare and adopt compliance plans aimed at ensuring they do not violate wage, job safety and equal employment laws.

BP has “one of the worst safety records of any oil company operating in America,” notes Tyson Slocum, director of Public Citizen’s Energy Program.

President Barack Obama on Friday appeared unwilling to scrap plans to expand oil and gas exploration, but promised that the administration will carefully study what mistakes led to the explosion of an oil drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico.

A program to screen former workers at Hanford and other Department of Energy nuclear weapons sites for work-related illnesses is underfunded, according to Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.

It’s just a 50-cent piece of latex, but depending on whom you ask, it will either kill or save the multibillion-dollar pornography industry.

Tufts Medical Center has agreed to pay a $5,000 federal fine for failing to track nurses’ injuries.

Tesoro Corp will keep its 120,000 barrel-per-day Anacortes, Washington, refinery closed through the second quarter this year, director of investor relations Scott Phipps told analysts on Friday.

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If you want to put a human face on the struggle families have with transparency and involvement in OSHA investigations, you should watch Tonya Ford’s testimony–it is very powerful stuff.

When one is looking at a statistic it is always worthwhile asking if the statistic is really measuring what you want to know. Take for example, a rating of dangerous jobs.

To reduce on-the-job fatalities, the government is launching an enforcement program to target repeat safety offenders and increase penalties.

Days missed because of serious injuries in the nation’s mines have spiked sharply this decade, a USA TODAY analysis of federal records shows.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration could get some new authority following Tuesday’s hearing on Capitol Hill.

Holly Shaw, of Philadelphia, was among those gathered between a wind-whipped American flag and a chapel-turned-hazardous-materials classroom for the dedication of the National Workers Memorial on New Hampshire Avenue, designed to honor workers killed on the job.

The names scrolled down on the film screen like silent movie credits, 388 reminders of why safety is important.

The chilling video of a Tulsa, Oklahoma man being pulled to his death in an industrial clothes dryer provides a rare look at a hidden national tragedy: more Americans die on the job every year than have been killed in the entire seven years of the war in Iraq.

A new report from the Kansas Department of Labor shows a 10 percent decline in the number of accidents at the workplace.

This year alone, 16 steelworkers have been killed on the job worldwide, including one in Northwest Indiana in January.

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Today, on Workers’ Memorial Day, it is important to remember that these tragic events are preventable, and workers deserve for them to be prevented.

The story in the evening newscast is as blunt as it is brief: “local man killed during workplace fall”, or “worker crushed by machine.”

The head of Mine Safety and Health Administration is telling members of the Senate the government will now go directly to federal court to shut down mines that habitually ignore safety.

In addition to familiar topics such as cranes and derricks, diacetyl, beryllium and crystalline silica, OSHA’s spring 2010 regulatory agenda contains some new, high-priority items – a proposed Injury and Illness Prevent Program standard and a move to modernize the agency’s injury and illness reporting systems.

U.S. legislators and federal regulators are “celebrating” Workers Memorial Day by pushing more austere workplace safety laws, which could actually increase the danger faced by working Americans.

The AFL-CIO’s 19th annual workplace safety report, “Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect,” also reports that in 2008, along with the 5,214, workers killed, another 50,000 workers died from occupational diseases, while at least 4.6 million workers were reported injured, unreported injuries could push that total to as many as 14 million workers.

The memorial list reads like a cross-section of working-class Massachusetts: a plumber in Quincy, a fisherman in Plymouth, a carpenter in Cohasset.

Two days after a memorial service for the seven workers killed in an explosion at an Anacortes, Wash., oil refinery, the head of the federal agency that oversees worker safety said Washington state has a solid program for inspecting dangerous workplaces.

A former Massey Energy Co. employee told a Senate panel Tuesday that he quit because he was “scared” the mines he worked in were unsafe.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Lowe’s Home Centers Inc. in Cincinnati with $40,000 in proposed penalties for continually failing to document and report employee injuries and illnesses.

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On the list of federal agencies decimated by the Bush administration, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) deserves to be placed right near the top.

As American companies try to keep pace with lower-cost global competitors, they are reducing jobs and other costs, and labor leaders say employers are compromising worker safety.

A U.S. mine-safety system that let companies avoid civil penalties by appealing citations is “broken and must be fixed,” the administrator of the mining agency said in Senate testimony today.

As families mourn the 11 workers thrown overboard in the worst oil rig disaster in decades and as the resulting spill continues to spread through the Gulf of Mexico, new questions are being raised about the training of the drill operators and about the oil company’s commitment to safety.

Younger workers are less likely to die on the job than older workers, but more likely to be injured and need emergency care, the CDC said.

A plan to explore the need for a safety and health standard on airborne infectious disease hazards has been expanded to include diseases transmitted via contact or droplet routes, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced.

Government nuclear employees who suffer from work-related medical conditions face long delays in settling claims, according to an audit by the Government Accountability Office.

Miners are killed. If a worker dies at a job site where the company failed to correct violations the executives are guilty of a criminal offense. They can go to jail for life. Such is the law of the land – not here in the United States but in Canada, the vast country to our north.

Federal workplace safety watchdogs are citing a contractor for the fall of two of its workers at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.

Performance reviews of the woman who exposed an assistant principal suspected of sexually exploiting a student cite poor office conduct and attitude as reasons for her dismissal last May.

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April saw a methane explosion at the Massey Mine in West Virginia which killed 29 workers; a chemical explosion April 2nd at the Tesoro refinery in Anacortes, Washington resulted in seven deaths; just last week another monstrous explosion and fireball injured dozens at the Transocean Ltd oil rig off the Louisiana Coast. Eleven workers remain unaccounted for and are presumed dead.

A mock funeral procession made its way through L.A.’s Pico Union and Koreatown neighborhoods Saturday as part of a “memorial day” rally honoring workers injured or killed in the workplace each year.

OSHA’s Dr. David Michaels, United Mine Workers President Cecil Roberts, and AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler will speak on Wednesday at the National Labor College in Silver Spring, Md., where a National Workers Memorial will be unveiled and victims of the Upper Big Branch mine explosion and the Tesoro refinery explosion and fire on April 2 in Anacortes, Wash. will be honored.

In honor of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) released a new report that highlights how the organization is Turning Green Jobs to Gold, Safely.

Coal mining is dangerous business and the people of the Appalachian Coalfields, from Tennessee to West Virginia to Pennsylvania, have come to expect disasters out of the mining industry.

An oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico moving toward Louisiana’s shore is drawing attention to what local officials fear would happen in Northwest Florida if oil drilling were allowed off Florida’s shore.

The American Petroleum Institute issued two new refinery safety standards on Apr. 22 that it said will help refiners reduce risks at their installations.

Four years ago, a killer-whale trainer at SeaWorld San Diego suffered a torn ligament when an orca bit him on the ankle and pulled him underwater for nearly 30 seconds.

Scovill Fasteners Inc. of Clarksville, Georgia was cited with 60 safety and health violations, amounting to $133,350 in proposed penalties.

A Williamson, W.Va., man and his wife have filed suit against GCR Tire Center and Phoenix Coal-Mac Mining, alleging the man sustained severe injuries after a side rim slammed into him.

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Younger people in America’s workforce are twice as likely as older workers to suffer an injury on the job that requires treatment in an emergency room, a new CDC report suggests.

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) is asking Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to investigate offshore drilling practices after a massive oil fire this week on a rig in the Gulf of Mexico left 11 workers missing and thought dead.

The United Steelworkers (USW) again called for an overhaul of health and safety within the oil industry following the explosion yesterday on an oil drilling rig about 50 miles off the Louisiana coast in the Gulf of Mexico. It was the fourth oil industry incident in a little more than two weeks that has killed or seriously injured workers.

A U.S. crackdown on mountaintop mining in Appalachia may force coal producers to rely increasingly on underground sites such as the Massey Energy Co. mine where 29 workers were killed this month in West Virginia.

Federal safety inspectors who visited Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch coal mine early this year said senior managers showed “reckless disregard” for worker safety by telling a foreman to ignore a citation the mine had received for faulty ventilation, according to the inspectors’ handwritten notes.

OSHA announced a Severe Violator Enforcement Program today that will be in effect in 45 days and also said it is administratively raising the dollar value of its penalties, suggesting it would raise them higher still if it could.

The company was fined a record $87 million by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration for failing to correct safety hazards after the 2005 Texas City refinery explosion killed 15 workers.

Police are using an incident on Wednesday in Kittery, Maine, involving a 21-year old nearly having his feet cut off in a riding lawn mower accident to remind people, as the accident victim was doing, to always wear safety gear when operating heavy machinery.

Seattle firefighters responded Thursday to reports of an explosion at a Seattle metal-recycling plant.

A Douglas County, Ga., construction worker died Wednesday when his head was pinned by a tractor at a baseball stadium.

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Rescue teams in the Gulf of Mexico are searching for 11 missing workers a day after an enormous explosion rocked the Deepwater Horizon oil rig 50 miles off the Louisiana coast.

An April 20, 2010 oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico once again illustrates the hazardous and sometimes deadly work conditions that maritime workers face on a daily basis, say the Houston Maritime Injury Lawyers, Arnold & Itkin LLP.

The fire at an offshore drilling rig doing work for BP PLC comes as the company already faces intense scrutiny in the U.S., five years after an explosion and fire at its Texas City, Texas, refinery killed 15 people and injured scores more.

Massey Energy Co., operator of a mine where 29 workers died in an explosion this month, led a list of 57 coal mines subjected to new U.S. inspections based on previous safety violations, the Labor Department said.

As web workers and small business owners, the personal and business sides of our lives often overlap.

Hydro Extrusion Americas, a global supplier of aluminum and aluminum products, halted all work at its North and South American locations for a half hour last month. The purpose was to focus intensely on job safety.

Houston firefighters who punched ventilation holes in the roof of a burning residence worsened a wind-driven blaze last spring that killed two of their colleagues during a “fast attack” response criticized for lacking coordination, communication and basic knowledge of fire dynamics, according to an exhaustive investigation by federal safety officials.

The state agency that oversees workplace safety, in reviewing the death of a game-day employee at Qualcomm Stadium, ruled that more than a dozen box seats need barriers to prevent falls.

Inspectors found a number of deficiencies at the plant including unguarded power presses, failing to develop lockout/tagout procedures for energy sources, lack of training for forklift operators, improper personal protection equipment for employees handling acids and caustics, and failing to provide a written hazard communications plan.

As the Northern Belle left Seattle earlier this month, the crew was uneasy about the amount of cargo packed into its holds, according to one of three people who survived when the boat sank in the Gulf of Alaska on Tuesday.

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