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Archive for July, 2010

Despite the enormity of the disaster, the media seem to have forgotten the Gulf Oil Spill. That’s a shame, because, on Tuesday, the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals reported that 324 people, 241 of them who were involved in the oil spill cleanup itself or offshore work, have reported illnesses related to oil or dispersants used during the cleanup effort in the Gulf.

U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., on Wednesday introduced the “Safe Dispersants Act,” legislation that would affect Nalco Company, manufacturer of Corexit dispersants used to break up oil in the Gulf of Mexico spill.

US Senate Democrats took a different approach than their counterparts in the House and included provisions responding to the Gulf of Mexico well blowout, rig explosion, and crude oil spill in a larger energy bill on July 27.

U.S. Sens. Jay Rockfeller and Carte Goodwin, both D-W.Va., Thursday introduced legislation aimed at making coal mines safer in the United States.

Eight- or nine-figure settlements of gender discrimination class action lawsuits regularly make news. It seems like discrimination this pervasive – essentially, discrimination as corporate policy – should be a relic of the Mad Men past. To the contrary, in countless companies and even entire industries, discrimination against women is business as usual.

Officials suspect five California workers have died from heat related causes—such as heat stroke—since the beginning of the summer. This comes as regulators are issuing lower fines for employers that violate heat regulations.

Sue Crump braced as the chemo drugs dripped into her body. She knew treatment would be rough. She had seen its signature countless times in the ravaged bodies and hopeful faces of cancer patients in hospitals where she had spent 23 years mixing chemo as a pharmacist.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is directing more focus to job site enforcement as involvement wanes in a voluntary program meant to avoid injuries and infractions.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration wants to levy a $420,000 fine for alleged workplace safety violations at the White River Junction, Vt., facility.

One man was killed and three others were sickened by a mixture of pungent and toxic gases this afternoon while working in a deep, narrow shaft at the Sewickley sewage treatment plant.

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A national builders association is accusing OSHA of hiding citation penalty and construction enforcement changes in a federal bill for the mining industry.

The Austin City Council today will delve into regulating working conditions in the construction industry as it considers an apparently groundbreaking ordinance requiring employers to give their employees regular rest breaks.

California’s workplace-safety board is expected to decide in mid-August on a permanent version of its workplace rules for managing heat stress.

Federal officials are using fatality statistics to back up the first changes to crane and derrick rules since they were created 40 years ago.

Prosecutors said Wednesday they will not consider a plea deal in the case against the owner and two supervisors of dismantled Merced Farm Labor, the company that employed a 17-year-old pregnant farm worker who died of heat stroke in 2008.

As more workers get exposed on the job to tiny new nanomaterials with unknown medical risks, government watchdogs are looking at ways to keep tabs on their health. One solution may lie in the breath.

Southern Electric of Tampa Inc. has been fined $6,400 for two OSHA violations that led to the death of a Lakeland, Fla., electrician last year.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Marcum Transport for more than two dozen safety violations at its Verdunville, W. Va., operation.

Federal labor officials say preliminary investigations show a grain bin accident in northwestern Illinois that left two people dead and a third hospitalized was “very preventable.”

Part of the Horsehead Zinc Plant near Monaca, Pa., will likely be shut down for several months while investigators try to find the cause of last week’s deadly explosion.

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Commercial fishing is one of the nation’s deadliest jobs, with an average of 58 fatalities a year, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analysis has found.

It was spill bill day in Washington, as both House and Senate Democrats rolled out a suite of measures in response to the Gulf disaster.

On Thursday, two legislative committees will convene to discuss “third-party liability issues involving workers’ compensation.” Even though the topic of this hearing was set long before the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe, BP puts the hearing in a new light that spurs a second look at our pro-defendant civil justice system and the impact immunity for BP-style disasters has on workers, communities, and the environment.

Now that BP seems to have capped the oil leak and replaced Chief Executive Officer Tony Hayward, cleanup efforts will share the stage with investigations and recriminations about what led to the Apr. 20 explosion at the Deep Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico.

A bill guaranteeing healthcare for first responders to the World Trade Center site is scheduled for a House floor vote Wednesday, The Hill has learned.

June Chappel said she feared for her life as a Marcellus Shale well flared burning gas and flames licked and melted the plastic liner of a massive wastewater pit 200 feet from her back door in September.

A 56-year-old man suffocated Tuesday morning after his arm got caught in a machine at the plant nursery where he worked.

State worker safety officials say nearly 50 tons of falling pipe killed a man at a recently drilled oil well in Niobrara County, Wyo.

The U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration has alleged 41 serious violations of workplace safety and health standards at EDAC Technologies Corp., a Farmington, Conn., aircraft parts manufacturing plant.

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A House proposal to bolster safety protections for miners will save the government hundreds of millions of dollars, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated this week.

House Democrats on Monday unveiled their strategy to respond to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, a package headed for the floor late this week that would shore up offshore rig safety standards and block BP from obtaining new offshore drilling leases.

Last week the House passed the Oil Pollution Research and Development Program Reauthorization Act of 2010, a bill that amends the post-Exxon Valdez legislation in order to fund research on oil spills.

The Minnesota senator pressed the hearing’s only witness — Steve Flynn, the oil company’s vice president of health, safety, security and environment — to explain why BP had received 760 egregious willful citations.

Amid debate over the use of the controversial chemical bisphenol A in food packaging, an environmental group has demonstrated how widely the chemical — known as BPA — also is found in paper receipts.

As controversy over offshore oil drilling regulation rages, a separate environmental debate is taking shape over a method of natural gas extraction called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which involves blasting underground rock with a combination of water, sand and chemicals.

For the average driver, there may be no more visible car on the road than a police cruiser.

Some 100 people attended the first Northern New Jersey Action Summit for Latino Immigrant Workers held today at the Morris County Library, where advocates stressed the need for workers to report unsafe workplace conditions to inspectors.

Penalties for violating OSHA training requirements now can be imposed on a per-affected-worker basis, Textile Rental Services Association (TRSA) says.

The employer of two workers killed in an oil and gas well explosion last week had paid nearly $10,000 in federal workplace safety fines for two other well fires, including a 2007 explosion that burned an employee, records show.

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Following the Enron accounting scandal, Congress adopted the Sarbanes-Oxley (“Sarbox”) corporate reform law to reduce the risk of future corporate fiascoes by bolstering protections for whistleblowers. But in the eight years since the law was passed, the worker safety arm of the U.S. Department of Labor has rejected 98% of all claims by corporate workers seeking protection from reprisals.

If more than 150 military veterans win their lawsuit against a Halliburton subsidiary claiming that the company knowingly exposed them to a cancer-causing chemical in Iraq, American taxpayers—rather than the defense contractor—may have to pay.

BP PLC’s monitoring of offshore oil-leak workers in the Gulf of Mexico may be overstating the potential chemical exposures facing those workers due to an emphasis on sampling the most vulnerable populations, according to the company and the Obama administration.

Federal and state investigators on Thursday dismissed a Massey Energy assertion that the Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster was caused by a freak flood of methane gas that the company could do nothing to control.

On Wednesday July 14, California legislators were debating whether the state’s five-year-old heat safety regulations are strong enough to protect the 650,000 farm workers who harvest the bulk of the nation’s fruit and vegetables in temperatures that regularly climb over 100 degrees.

As multiple investigations continue into the fatal explosion and fire that killed two workers on a shallow oil and gas well in Indiana Township, Pa., last week, state and federal regulators are also considering new, stricter regulations for burgeoning Marcellus Shale deep gas drilling operations.

Toledo Zoo patron Jennifer Kohler and her family walked up to an exhibit hoping to see 4,000-pound Louie the elephant go through some training exercises, she told The Blade Friday. What the Findlay woman ended up doing instead that July 1 afternoon was to call 911 for help after she saw an elephant trainer – Don RedFox – in distress.

A maintenance man at a prominent western New York office building was crushed to death after falling into a trash compactor, but no one realized it for weeks as his family and authorities searched for him, police said Sunday.

Firefighters say a worker at a New Hampshire paper company died after being pulled through a paper roller machine.

Federal safety regulators fined two New Hampshire companies more than $257,000 after an explosion in January seriously injured two employees.

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Federal Aviation Administration officials failed to hold Northwest Airlines accountable for what may have been more than 1,000 safety violations committed over more than a decade, a government report says.

When Louisiana residents ask marine toxicologist and community activist Riki Ott what she would do if she lived in the Gulf with children, she tells them she would leave immediately.

Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) issued the following statement today in response to news reports that a confidential report commissioned by Transocean showed workers were concerned about safety at the Deepwater Horizon rig in the weeks prior to the explosion.

BP Plc and U.S. oil companies have a pattern of safety violations, recording 26 deaths, 21 fires and 33 injuries in the past three months at refineries, Democratic Senator Patty Murray said yesterday.

Minnesota Associated Builders and Contractors chapter signed onto a letter July 20 expressing opposition to provisions in the Miner Safety and Health Act of 2010 (H.R. 5663) in advance of a markup of the bill.

If you are one of the 133 million American grappling with a chronic illness like diabetes, asthma or heart disease, where do you turn for help managing your condition? Your employer may seem like an unlikely choice.

A farmer’s employee was in the field planting when he died, apparently of natural causes such as a heart attack or stroke while on the job. Does the farmer have to notify the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)? It depends.

Many years ago when Mindy Hixon started working in the family trucking business in Carbon County, she realized safety wasn’t a top priority.

Brig. Gen. John Cooper, who commanded the 309th Maintenance Wing at Hill Air Force Base during a turbulent period which included a rash of worker suicides, has accepted assignment as director of logistics, installations and mission support at the U.S. Air Force’s European headquarters in Germany.

Officials at a zinc plant said Friday that the refinery portion of the western Pennsylvania operation remained closed while company and federal investigators tried to determine the cause of an explosion that killed two workers.

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Working for the federal government should not be hazardous to employees’ health. But when it is, Uncle Sam should not be as stingy as he was made out to be during a hearing Wednesday on Capitol Hill.

A House panel on Wednesday approved sweeping legislation to protect the nation’s miners — a direct response to April’s deadly explosion at a West Virginia coal mine. But Wednesday’s partisan debate in the House Education and Labor Committee centered largely on broader workplace safety reforms that have nothing to do with mines.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday the U.S. House passage of two bills in response to the BP oil spill will help future cleanups and prevent such disasters.

A top safety official at BP PLC today defended the company’s industry-leading string of federal safety violations before a group of skeptical senators, vowing to make progress on worker protection despite the oil giant’s ongoing dispute with the Obama administration over fines at its Texas City refinery.

Workers groups plan to protest Don Blankenship, the fiery CEO for Virginia-based Massey Energy, who will address the National Press Club on mining policy Thursday.

Workers on the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico expressed concern about safety practices in a confidential survey conducted a month before the oil rig exploded, The New York Times reported on Thursday.

Yesterday, President Obama released a statement endorsing the Paycheck Fairness Act and calling on the Senate to pass the legislation.

A construction worker was rescued Tuesday after being buried alive by a chunk of clay that broke off during a sewer repair project in Warren, Mich.

Pennsylvania relaxed some sanctions against a natural gas company blamed for contaminating well water at 14 homes in Dimock — only hours before a new spill at a gas well being drilled by the same company.

One of Disneyland’s oldest attractions, the Alice in Wonderland ride, has been closed since last week while workers install safety barriers recommended by California work-safety inspectors.

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