Archive for July, 2011

Victim’s kin push law to protect social workers
A Revere, Mass., group home where a young staffer was brutally butchered, allegedly by a violent patient with a long rap sheet, was slapped with sanctions by federal officials while the slain counselor’s family is pushing for a new law in her name to protect social workers. Stephanie Moulton’s mother, Kimberly Flynn of Peabody, said the family is working with state lawmakers on Stephanie’s Law, a bill that would require panic buttons in all mental health facilities.

Home health workers are sick of being shut out of labor law
As walking canes replace running shoes, and the parents who raised us start needing to be cared for themselves, the first dawn of America’s aging boom approaches. But even as the “gray wave” looms on the horizon, the way we treat the workers who care for our elders lags generations behind. Hundreds of thousands of home care workers remain excluded from the country’s key labor laws.

Homeowners can be held “at fault” when hiring unlicensed contractors for remodeling
With an increase in home remodeling, the California Professional Association of Specialty Contractors (CALPASC) is urging homeowners to think twice before hiring contractors who may be members of the underground or semi-underground economies for remodeling projects. California law holds that a “significant residential remodel,” defined as projects including demolition and rebuilding a significant portion of the house, and new construction fall under Cal/OSHA safety regulations. As such, the homeowner is treated as an employer and required to furnish a safe place of employment.

OSHA issues fines after worker is pulled into a mixing machine
OSHA has cited three Brooklyn, N.Y., tortilla manufacturers after a young worker was killed when he became caught in the unguarded auger of a machine used to mix tortilla dough at Tortilleria Chinantla Inc.

Working in the heat is no sweat for some in Oklahoma
Medical professionals say the danger is real for those who work outside. The threat is taken seriously on a national level by officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. David Bates, the administration’s area director in Oklahoma City, said the agency takes two primary approaches to protect outdoor workers.

Pilot crashes in Lake Huron, swims 18 hours
Michael Trapp, the pilot who tread water and swam without a life jacket for 18 hours after his small plane crashed into Lake Huron, told his story to reporters Thursday.

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MSHA announces results of June impact inspections
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration today announced that federal inspectors issued 222 citations, orders and safeguards during special impact inspections conducted at 12 coal mines and two metal/nonmetal mines last month. These inspections, which began in force in April 2010 following the explosion at Upper Big Branch Mine, involve mines that merit increased agency attention and enforcement due to their poor compliance history or particular compliance concerns, including high numbers of violations or closure orders; indications of operator tactics, such as advance notification of inspections that prevent inspectors from observing violations; frequent hazard complaints or hotline calls; plan compliance issues; inadequate workplace examinations; a high number of accidents, injuries or illnesses; fatalities; and adverse conditions such as increased methane liberation, faulty roof conditions and inadequate ventilation.

Firefighters in bias case awarded millions in damages
A white group of firefighters who won a reverse discrimination case before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2009 have been awarded about $2 million in damages from the city of New Haven, Conn., ending a 7-year-old legal battle that was fueled by national debate over racial justice, officials said Thursday. The Supreme Court ruled that officials violated white firefighters’ civil rights when they threw out 2003 promotion tests results because too few minorities did well.

AHF petitions CA Supreme Court over failure to protect porn performers
Today, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) filed a petition with the California Supreme Court seeking a review of a recent decision published by the Second District Court of Appeal, Division Three, which upheld the dismissal of AHF’s lawsuit seeking to compel Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (DPH) to enforce regulations requiring condom use in adult films.

Study shows STD rates much higher in adult film performers
A recent study of Chlamydia and gonorrhea infection and re-infection rates for adult film industry performers from 2004-2008 revealed startling findings regarding the high rates of sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs) in the adult film industry, said AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) today. Among the findings: Chlamydia incidence in adult film performers was 8.5 times higher than the rate in Los Angeles County residents aged 18-29 and 34 times higher than in the general population. Gonorrhea incidence was 18 times higher in porn performers than Los Angeles County residents aged 18-29 and 64 times higher than in the general population.

Severe hearing impairment among military veterans
A substantial proportion of hearing loss in the United States is attributable to employment-related exposure to noise. Among military veterans, the most common service-connected disabilities are hearing impairments, suggesting that occupational noise exposure during military service might cause more veterans to have hearing loss than nonveterans. However, a recent analysis of data from the 1993–1995 Epidemiology of Hearing Loss Study did not find significant differences between the two groups.

Despite risk, embalmers still embrace preservative
With the government declaring formaldehyde a carcinogen, these might be boom times for alternative embalming fluids — if it weren’t for the so-called everlasting effect funeral directors stake their reputations on. The formaldehyde industry fought the government’s designation for years, arguing that the science was fuzzy on the link between the chemical and certain cancers. Consumer advocates hope a government warning in June will spur increased demand for products with little or no formaldehyde — for items as diverse as plywood, pressed wood, wrinkle-free shirts and hair straighteners. Among funeral directors? Not likely.

Document: 1600 Fukushima workers thought to be exposed to high radiation
A newly released document says the Japanese government estimated in April that some 1600 workers will be exposed to high levels of radiation in the course of handling the reactor meltdowns at the stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant. The figure was released in a document from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), which is in charge of regulating Japan’s nuclear industry, after the Japan Occupational Safety and Health Resource Center requested the information be made public, according an article published on Thursday in the Mainichi Daily News.

C8 panel says it has found cancer death rise at DuPont
Workers at DuPont Co.’s Wood County plant who were exposed to the chemical C8 were more likely to die from kidney cancer and other kidney diseases, according to the latest findings from a three-scientist panel studying C8’s potential health effects.

Northeastern Wisconsin Wood Products fined for 18 safety violations
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Northeastern Wisconsin Wood Products for 18 health and safety violations. The company faces fines of $378,620. Thirteen of the violations were “willful,” meaning they were done with intentional knowledge or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or with plain indifference to worker health and safety, OSHA said in a news release. Among the alleged violations are lack of safety measures on equipment, lack of hearing or vision protection for workers, and allowing conditions that pose serious fire and explosion hazards.

Gas blast firms get schedule for suits
When a powerful gas explosion in Fort Myers cut energy to more than 1,200 businesses and critically injured a construction worker this past November, it also set off a chain of blame. People’s Gas System, a subsidiary of TECO Energy Inc., filed a federal lawsuit earlier this year against Posen Construction, alleging negligence. Posen has filed a countersuit, claiming TECO is at fault. Both sides are gearing up for what could be a lengthy legal battle.

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Tools for drug testing: Oklahoma employers encouraged to update policies for new law
Employers should update their drug testing policies now to take full advantage of a beneficial state law taking effect Nov. 1. While employers face no deadline for changing their workplace drug testing policies, putting off this alignment prevents them from taking advantage of several improvements designed to help businesses improve workplace safety and better contain their unemployment and workers’ compensation costs, all by streamlining employee drug testing regulations.

Citing safety flaws, New York yanks licenses of 8 bus companies
In a crackdown prompted by a rash of fatal crashes this year, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has suspended the licenses of eight charter and tour bus companies for repeatedly violating safety rules. State officials said the bus companies have failed three or more surpise roadside inspections in the last six months, or failed their scheduled semi-annual inspections or received a federal “out-of-service” orders.

Caution: Your child’s first job may be hazardous to her health
An estimated 80 percent of teens are employed at some point during their high school years—but many of them are ill-equipped to deal with on-the-job hazards. Around 146,000 adolescents are injured in the workplace every year, according to federal data, with about 70 dying as a result. Even worse, a study in the current issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health argues that parents are unprepared to help their children stay safe.

Porn trade group to revive performer STD database
A San Fernando Valley-based porn trade group plans to revive a controversial database that tracks adult performers’ sexually transmitted disease test results. As of Friday, the new database, Adult Performer Health and Safety Services, will provide porn producers and agents with access to results from numerous testing facilities, according to Diane Duke, executive director of the Canoga Park-based Free Speech Coalition, which created the database. Duke estimates it will be at least two months before testing of performers is complete and the database is fully functional.

Inland Empire warehouse workers file complaint over alleged unsafe working conditions
Warehouse operations employ a lot of people in the Inland Empire, and now, some of them have filed a complaint with the state stating that they routinely work amid health and safety violations. They say employees at Inland warehouses often have to work with dangerous machinery in facilities with poor ventilation. When they report unsafe conditions, they say their bosses retaliate against them.

Group claims Storrs Center project is depriving CT workers of jobs
A group called Connecticut First Coalition has issued a press release accusing the developers of the Storrs Center project in Mansfield of giving away Connecticut jobs and violating OSHA workplace safety rules.

Death of corrections officer leads to citation, fine for DOC
The Washington state Department of Labor and Industries has cited and fined the Department of Corrections in connection with the death of corrections officer, Jayme Biendl. The total proposed penalty is $26,000, nearly the maximum amount allowed. The agency determined that workplace safety violations at the Monroe Correctional Complex resulted in several opportunities where prison staff could have noticed Biendl’s absence sooner.

OSHA cites AMF Bowling Centers facility in Dallas, Texas
AMF Bowling Centers Inc. was cited for three serious and three repeat violations following the death of a worker at the company’s 300 Dallas facility on Belt Line Road in Addison, according to The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA initiated an inspection after receiving a report that a worker was fatally injured after being caught in a pinsetter machine while clearing a jam.

Report offers new details about panda attack at SD Zoo
10News uncovered new details on Tuesday about how a giant panda was able to attack her keeper at the San Diego Zoo last March. According to the nine-page report from Cal/OSHA, the zoo’s panda exhibit has an elaborate underground setup. There are bedrooms for the three bears and a tunnel where keepers guide them through several secure doors up to the public exhibit. On March 13, at about 7:15 a.m., senior panda keeper Karen Barnes failed to check the underground doors before bringing Bai Yun up to the exhibit for the day, according to Cal/OSHA.

3 injured in COS industrial accident
Three iron workers were injured after several 500-pound metal beams collapsed and fell on the men Tuesday at Tulare’s under-construction College of the Sequoias campus.

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9/11 health czar says science fails to link cancer to Ground Zero toxins
Veterans of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and cleanup who are stricken with cancer had their hopes dashed Tuesday — at least temporarily — of having their illness included among those eligible for help from the government. Under the new James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act — which does not cover cancer — the administrator of the World Trade Center Health Program must periodically review whether cancer can be linked to the 9/11 attacks or cleanup, and added to the list of diseases responders can get help for. The first such review was released Tuesday, and found there was no basis — yet — to add the disease, and that much more study still needs to be done, even 10 years after the horrendous attacks.

Conference asks, ‘Are we prepared for the next 9/11?’
The leaders of OSHA and NIOSH and Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator of EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, are among the speakers for a Sept. 16 all-day conference in New York City that will examine how well prepared their agencies are to protect responders from harmful exposures during major disasters. “Protecting Worker and Community Health: Are We Prepared for the Next 9/11?” is taking place a few days after the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center.

Grain elevator company charged with crimes in teen’s death
The U.S. Attorney’s Office charged Tempel Grain Elevators Tuesday morning with aiding and abetting and violating federal work safety regulations resulting in the death of a teenage boy. The charges come almost two years after the Occupational Safety and Health Administration accused the company of violating safety regulations and ordered it to pay a $1.6 million fine, the second largest total in Colorado for labor and safety fines at the time.

Federal inspectors find safety violations at Jamesville lumber mill where worker died in February
The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration today said B & B Lumber Co. Inc., the Jamesville lumber mill where a worker died in an accident in February, should be fined $152,100. Thomas O. Pelton, 35, of Camden, was changing blades on a cutting machine at the mill at 4800 Solvay Road in the early morning on Feb. 7 when another employee started the device. The worker didn’t realize he had started the machine and was unable to stop it before Pelton was fatally injured, police said.

OSHA investigating farm accident that killed two teen girls
Representatives of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration are in northwestern Illinois today, continuing an investigation into the electrocution deaths Monday of two 14-year-old girls working in a cornfield.

Man poses as compliance officer and asks for money
A man has attempted to swindle Valley businesses by posing as an inspector or compliance officer and asking for money, officials said Tuesday. The Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health said it has received reports from restaurants and businesses saying the imposter visited, claimed to be an ADOSH inspector or compliance officer and asked for money.

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Following bus crash in New York, Brown turns up pressure to tighten safety regulations for tour bus
Following reports of another tour bus crash, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) stepped up pressure to pass comprehensive legislation to strengthen safety standards for tour busses to prevent these types of crashes. The tour bus crash is the latest in a string of accidents that have left 32 people dead and 323 injured.

Researchers target safety on Gulf shrimp boats
Mang Vo wanted to make a lasting impression on his shrimping safety class when he learned many of the fishermen didn’t know how to make a proper mayday call. After some told him they use cell phones during emergencies at sea, he pulled an old cell from his pocket and smashed it against a wall. But for many shrimpers in the Gulf of Mexico, mayday calls via the radio have been a difficult if not impossible task for one simple reason: They don’t know English.

Proposed road rules for farmers anger some
Tractors lumbering down country roads are as common as deer in rural Montana, but the federal government wants to place new driving regulations on farmers and ranchers. “It’s a huge deal for us,” said John Youngberg of the Montana Farm Bureau. After years of allowing state governments to waive commercial driver’s license requirements for farmers hauling crops or driving farm equipment on public roads, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is poised to do away with the exceptions.

DOL files whistleblower lawsuit against Full Circle Enterprises
The U.S. Department of Labor has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division, alleging that Full Circle Enterprises Inc. of Conroe illegally terminated an employee because of complaints regarding illegal drug use and a lack of proper respirators to protect employees from paint fumes at the facility.

Respirator company sues Massey/Alpha
Massey Energy, now Alpha Natural Resources, and Don Blankenship, are being sued by a mine safety equipment company who claims Massey is responsible for black lung in one of its employees. Don Dotson sued Mine Safety Appliances (MSA), a Pennsylvania company that manufactures the respirators Dotson wore while he was working underground for Massey. The suit claimed Dotson had contracted black lung disease due to the failure of the respirators manufactured by the company. However, MSA has filed suit in Mingo County Circuit Court, claiming that Massey, and its CEO Don Blankenship in particular, are responsible for Dotson’s black lung, due to the company’s disregard for the safety of its employees.

State safety officials are investigating six possible heat-related deaths
California workplace-safety officials are investigating six possible heat-related deaths since April, including those of two farmworkers, a police officer and a drilling crew member.

12 workers fired for not braving heat
The heat index Thursday was in the neighborhood of 115 degrees, but 12 local union workers said they were fired because they were not willing to spend 10 hours in it.

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Violence at Calif. mental hospitals: ‘This is the norm’
Thousands of assaults occur each year at California’s state psychiatric hospitals. Last October, a patient allegedly murdered a staffer at Napa State Hospital. Employees there demonstrated, demanding greater safety. Now, the protests have spread to Metropolitan State Hospital near Los Angeles, where about 100 workers recently spent a broiling hot lunch hour marching in front of the place where they work.

NFL lets the fans fight out the concussion lawsuit
The Associated Press reported on July 19 that 75 former NFL players were suing the league for concealing information about the danger of concussions. For decades, the plaintiffs allege in the suit, the National Football League buried research that only in recent years has come to light.

ATF whistleblower case triggers retaliation inquiry
The Justice Department’s Inspector General has opened an investigation into possible retaliation against a whistle-blowing agent at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, according to two people briefed on the inquiry. Watchdogs are examining whether anyone at the Justice Department improperly released internal correspondence to try to smear ATF agent John Dodson, who told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee last month that he repeatedly warned supervisors about what he called a reckless law enforcement operation known as “Fast and Furious.”

Court grants MSHA request for preliminary injunction against anthracite mine operator in Lykens, Pa.
A federal judge with the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania has issued a preliminary injunction ordering Darryl Koperna, doing business as S&M Coal Co., to stop mining at the Buck Mountain Slope Mine in Lykens, Pa., due to Koperna’s violation of a closure order previously issued by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration. MSHA issued the closure order as a result of S&M’s continued failure to purchase and install a wireless tracking and communication system as required by its emergency response plan as well as the Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act of 2006. A wireless tracking and communication system would provide a means to easily locate miners and enable them to communicate with rescuers and each other in an emergency situation.

Results of state’s investigation into Jayme Biendl’s death expected Friday
State prison leaders are expected on Friday to release findings from an internal investigation into what happened the night corrections officer Jayme Biendl was killed at the Washington State Reformatory in Monroe.

OSHA website takes the guesswork out of recordkeeping rule
Called the OSHA Recordkeeping Advisor, the site simulates an employer’s interaction with a recordkeeping rules expert. It is one of OSHA’s Employment Laws Assistance for Workers and Small Businesses Advisors, or elaws. Employers go on the site and begin clicking on the appropriate answers to various questions.

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New state law protects health care workers from violence
This spasm of violence astonished the state — hospitals are supposed to be places where people are healed, not gunned down. But for nurses, who have long been on the front line in health care and have been punched, slapped, cursed and kicked as they tried to help patients, Hull’s shooting was an escalation of the violence they live with regularly. Now, there’s a level of protection against such attacks, provided by a new law — An Act Concerning Workplace Violence Prevention and Response in Health Care Settings — that Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed into law last week.

No matter what mining industry reps say, MSHA’s proposed rule to address black lung is easily achievable
Thanks to Ken Ward at Coal Tattoo for alerting me to a hearing conducted last week in the House Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs, Stimulus Overight and Government Spending, of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform called “EPA’s Appalachian Energy Permitorium: Job Killer or Job Creator?” The majoirity of the witnesses were at the ready to sing the praises of King Coal and complain that the Obama Administration is trying to cripple the industry. The target of the oversight hearing was the EPA, with Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) serving as lead-off witness and insisting that the Obama Administration’s EPA “puts ideology first, and hardworking West Virginians, who are working to put food on their family’s tables, last.”

GAO seeks information about federal workers comp cheats
On the street, they are called snitches. To law enforcement, they are informants. The Government Accountability Office consider them good citizens. These are the folks from whom the GAO wants to get information about people who are cheating the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act, which provides benefits to those injured on the job.

Ensuring competitive employment opportunities for youth with disabilities, here and abroad
There’s a question that young people with disabilities deal with every day when entering the workforce: “How can I find and keep a job?” It’s one I’m looking at right now, as are many of my friends and not just in the U.S., but worldwide.

What you can do about bed bugs in the workplace
If 2010 was the year of the bed bug, 2011 may be the year most people realize that these blood-sucking insects are far more widespread than homes and hotels. These bugs have hitchhiked from where people live to where they work, study, and play. Bed bugs have increasingly been reported in major office buildings, hospitals, retail stores, colleges, and K-12 schools.

Rigger in deadly NYC crane collapse loses licenses; ruling calls him responsible
A rigger who worked on a construction crane that collapsed and killed seven people has been stripped of his licenses. An administrative judge says the rigger’s sloppy work was to blame for the collapse, despite his acquittal on all criminal charges.

Troy company faces OSHA fine
A Troy, Ohio, company is being cited for safety violations after a worker suffered crushing injuries. A 25-year-old man’s fingers were crushed by a 100-ton power press in May at West Troy Tool and Machine on Marybill Drive. The violations could total more than $52,000.

Death immediate in rice field blast
The Grimes man who died in an explosion Saturday while turning on an irrigation pump at a rice field south of Colusa died of shrapnel wounds and electrocution, the Colusa County Coroner’s Office reported Tuesday.

2 workers in serious condition after falling 3 stories
2 workers for the Great Northwest Gutter Company fell 3 stories after a gutter they were installing came in contact with an electrical wire.

Watch for signs of heat-related illnesses
With the excessive heat watch issued for Thursday, there is the possibility of heat-related illnesses. For those who work outside, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends taking frequent breaks in shaded or air conditioned areas.

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