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Archive for September, 2011

Taxpayers foot bill for Hill harassment claims
The number of discrimination and harassment claims on Capitol Hill has doubled in the past five years – and taxpayers have shelled out hundreds of thousands of dollars to settle those disputes. A new report out Thursday says 168 claims were made in fiscal 2010 alleging discrimination and harassment – compared to 87 claims reported in fiscal 2006. Fifty-seven of the claims made last year were based on race, while 41 claims involved age, 34 involved gender and 28 involved disabilities, according to the report from the congressional Office of Compliance.
http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0911/64673.html

Age discrimination harder to fight amid record unemployment for older workers
A federal judge dismissed an age discrimination case from 18 former employees of the Dallas Morning News in March, repeatedly citing a recent Supreme Court ruling that increased the burden on older workers to prove they’ve been treated unfairly.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/29/age-discrimination-jack-gross_n_985246.html?1317317827

Teachers of color, poor communities bear brunt of layoffs in Chicago
Black teachers in Chicago appear to be receiving pink slips at higher rates than white teachers, according to recent analysis by the Chicago Teachers Union.
http://www.inthesetimes.com/working/entry/12024/chicago_teachers_of_color_poor_communities_bearing_brunt_of_layoffs/

Complaint prompts Cal/OSHA visit to Atascadero State Hospital
Cal/OSHA is getting involved in figuring out a way to cut down on reports of violence against workers Atascadero State Hospital. A spokesperson for the hospital confirms a patient was arrested last Tuesday, September 20th on three felony charges. The hospital would not elaborate on the victim’s injuries in that case. Then on Sunday, September 25th, five employees were hurt while trying to control a patient. Only some of those workers have returned to work. The patient was not charged.
http://www.ksby.com/news/complaint-prompts-cal-osha-visit-to-atascadero-state-hospital/

50 serious safety violations and $917,000 penalty don’t jive with corporate PR about integrity, safety, responsibility
One Middleton, Massachusetts resident thought it was an earthquake. Others said it sounded like a sonic boom. When Mr. Charlie Veradt heard the explosion, he said “I knew right off the bat that it was down the street,” referring to the Bostik Inc. chemical plant owned by the global giant, petrochemical firm TOTAL. Just before 8:00 pm on Sunday, March 13, part of the plant exploded.
http://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2011/09/50_serious_safety_violations_a.php

Chemical leak sends 8 to hospital
A hazardous-materials team was sent Wednesday to a food-processing center, where an apparent carbon-monoxide leak sent eight people to a hospital, authorities said.
http://www.ocregister.com/news/carbon-319482-monoxide-people.html

What made people sick? Dust and aerosols at Ground Zero
Why some people who inhaled the airborne contaminants unleashed by the destruction of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 became sick for only a short time, why some have become chronically ill, and others terminally ill, may never be known. What is known, however, is that the dust and aerosols released in that disaster contained a potentially treacherous mix of everything that was in those enormous buildings and in those aircraft. What is also known is that, as Paul J. Lioy, professor and vice chair of the Department of Environmental and Occupational Medicine at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, says succinctly in his book, Dust: The Inside Story of its Role in the September 11th Aftermath, “no research had ever been done on the toxicology of such a mixture as WTC dust.”
http://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2011/09/what_made_people_sick_dust_and.php

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Obama proposes protecting unemployed against hiring bias
Obama’s jobs bill would prohibit employers from discriminating against job applicants because they are unemployed. Under the proposal, it would be “an unlawful employment practice” if a business with 15 or more employees refused to hire a person “because of the individual’s status as unemployed.”
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/27/us/politics/obama-proposes-adding-unemployed-to-protected-status.html?_r=1&ref=politics

A single senator plugs up pipeline safety bill
Prompted by last year’s deadly gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno, Calif., lawmakers in Washington moved uncharacteristically quickly. The Senate Finance Committee in May unanimously passed the Pipeline Transportation Safety Improvement Act of 2011 to toughen regulations. As the San Francisco Chronicle reports, support for the legislation was so broad that Senate Democrats initiated steps to get it passed by unanimous consent. And then the bill ran into Sen. Rand Paul, a first-term Republican from Kentucky.
http://www.fairwarning.org/2011/09/a-single-senator-plugs-up-pipeline-safety-bill/

NY law requires risk reports at group homes
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed a law requiring group homes and other private facilities licensed by the state to take juvenile delinquents to assess workplace safety, record violent incidents and take preventive steps. It takes effect in January.
http://online.wsj.com/article/APb7df32b637c049e5be1a741685be4207.html

Interns file suit against ‘Black Swan’ producer
Two men who worked on the hit movie “Black Swan” mounted an unusual challenge to the film industry’s widely accepted practice of unpaid internships by filing a lawsuit on Wednesday asserting that the production company violated minimum wage and overtime laws by hiring dozens of them. The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Manhattan, claims that Fox Searchlight Pictures, the producer of “Black Swan,” had the interns do grunt work that should have been done by paid employees and did not provide them with the type of educational experience that labor rules require to exempt the company from paying interns.
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/29/business/interns-file-suit-against-black-swan-producer.html?ref=business

Source One Staffing, Chicago agency, sued for categorizing jobs as ‘men’s’ or ‘women’s’ work
A temporary employment office in Chicago was sued Monday for the alleged sexual harassment of workers and for assigning workers to jobs based on their sex. According to a U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission statement, Source One Staffingcategorized their jobs as either “women’s work” or “men’s work” and assigned them to their employees accordingly. Further, they allegedly knowingly assigned female employees to work environments that were hostile to women and retaliated against female employees who told company management that their supervisor was making sexual advances toward them.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/27/source-one-staffing-chica_n_984060.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000003

Group backs new standard following Conn. blast
A national safety group is urging states and regulators to adopt new standards that would ban a pipe-cleaning practice blamed for a 2010 Connecticut power plant explosion that killed six workers. The National Fire Protection Association’s new standard, published a few weeks ago and publicly introduced Tuesday, prohibits the use of natural gas to clean pipes at industrial plants, commercial developments and other projects.
http://www.forbes.com/feeds/ap/2011/09/27/general-us-power-plant-explosion_8704014.html

$949,800 in fines issued to trailer maker for toxic fumes, noise hazards
OSHA’s Dallas Area Office initiated a safety and health inspection at the company’s facility in Texas following receipt of a complaint that employees were not adequately protected from being injured by rotating machinery parts, and employees were exposed to toxic welding fumes while fabricating trailers and noise levels above approved health standards.
http://ohsonline.com/articles/2011/09/28/949800-in-fines-issued-to-trailer-maker-for-toxic-fumes-noise-hazards.aspx?admgarea=news

Can old and broken down workers cut it?
Andy Rooney is leaving “60 Minutes” at age 92 and some workers out there may be jealous he was able to hold onto his plum job for so long. A growing number of middle-aged workers are finding it hard to hold onto their jobs, or find new ones, and they haven’t even reached retirement age. There’s been a flurry of cases in recent weeks that point to a growing reluctance to treat 40 plus employees fairly, and many of my emails in the last few months are from readers who feel their age is holding them back.
http://www.evetahmincioglu.com/web/blog/2011/09/28/can-old-and-broken-down-workers-cut-it/

2 men found dead in sewage tank at Kennebunkport, Maine, motel
Two men who worked for a pump-repair company were found dead Tuesday in a sewage tank they were working on at a Kennebunkport motel.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/2-men-found-dead-in-sewage-tank-at-kennebunkport-maine-motel/2011/09/27/gIQA52Hc2K_story.html

Search for gas leaks cut short before blast
After a rare electrical problem blew four holes in natural-gas pipes in Seattle’s Pinehurst neighborhood on Sunday, Puget Sound Energy says, the agency went house to house in the neighborhood to check for more leaks. Its workers stopped at nightfall, without finding more. It wasn’t until the next day, after a huge explosion and house fire, that PSE did a much larger “leak survey” across a 5-square-mile area, working into the night.
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2016332869_gasleak28m.html

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NFL gets better: ‘Sexual orientation’ protections added to new contract
The NFL has removed a hurdle for professional football players who may be thinking of coming out as gay, banning discrimination based on “sexual orientation.” The new language was quietly put into the 2011 collective bargaining agreement, ratified by the players on Aug. 4, and first noticed by Pete Olsen at Wide Rights.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/26/nfl-sexual-orientation-protections_n_981140.html?1317068097&ncid=edlinkusaolp00000008

San Bruno disaster probers say utility still in the dark about pipeline flaws
The utility whose gas pipeline exploded in San Bruno, Calif., a year ago, killing eight people, still doesn’t have a handle on whether other dangerous flaws exist in its natural gas transmission system that could lead to another disaster. That’s what the National Transportation Safety Board concluded in its final report on the 2010 catastrophe.
http://www.fairwarning.org/2011/09/san-bruno-disaster-probers-say-utility-still-in-the-dark-about-pipeline-flaws/

Family of slain caseworker to testify on Beacon Hill for ‘Stephanie’s Law’
Kimberly Flynn of Peabody is on a mission to get “Stephanie’s Law” on the books and simple “panic buttons” installed for all human service workers at residential mental health facilities in Massachusetts. Flynn and her family are poised now to testify on Beacon Hill Tuesday to convince state lawmakers of the need to adopt such basic safety measures in light of the death of 25-year-old Stephanie Moulton (Flynn’s daughter) nine months ago, allegedly killed by one of her patients.
http://peabody.patch.com/articles/family-of-slain-caseworker-to-testify-on-beacon-hill-for-stephanies-law

MSHA announces results of August impact inspections
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration today announced that federal inspectors issued 356 citations, orders and safeguards during special impact inspections conducted at 16 coal mines and four metal/nonmetal mines last month.
http://www.dol.gov/opa/media/press/msha/MSHA20111416.htm

Underemployment: Retail workers struggle for hours in weak recovery
A little over two years ago, Floyd Kelly, then an associate at Walmart, transferred from one company store in Washington State to another. Although Kelly had worked full-time for years, he says that after the switch his hours dropped to part-time. For Kelly and other retail workers like him, the difference between full-time and part-time in this economy is the difference between eking by and slowly going under. In Kelly’s case, the reduced workweek means a paycheck that’s about two-thirds of what it used to be. It means a less reliable schedule, no sick days and no vacation days. And it means keeping roommates at age 50, just so he can cover rent.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/23/underemployment-retail-workers-part-time_n_977784.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000003

GSA building toilet explodes, sending woman to hospital
A woman was sent to the hospital after a toilet exploded at the General Services Administration (GSA) Building in DC, building officials said. The GSA Regional office building employees were sent a memo, warning them to not use the bathrooms in the building, because the plumbing may be dangerous. The building is on 7th and D SW.
http://www.wusa9.com/rss/article/168701/187/Exploding-Toilet-Sends-Woman-To-Hospital

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Cracking down on job-candidate credit checks
Last week, the California legislature sent the governor a bill that would ban most employers from running credit checks on job applicants. If the governor signs the bill into law (which this web site tells us he’s likely to), California will become the biggest get yet for those pushing for such laws around the nation. Is this just what a country full of unemployed people with wrecked credit needs? Or is it, as HR managers have been hollering, a way of hindering them from finding good, upstanding workers?
http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2011/09/26/cracking-down-on-job-candidate-credit-checks/

Long-term jobless face issue with references
The long-term jobless face a big dilemma when it comes to hunting for a job — a lack of recent references. Maybe you haven’t worked for six months or a year and don’t have someone who can vouch for what you’ve been doing; or your references are out of work themselves. It’s a problem hiring managers and recruiters are seeing more often, and it’s a problem that job seekers have a tough time grappling with.
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/44639552/ns/business-careers/t/long-term-jobless-face-issue-references/#.ToCgk9SPMXh

Unemployment: Older jobless twice as likely to become 99ers
Older workers are less likely to lose their jobs than younger workers, but once they do, they’re more than twice as likely to be out of work for 99 weeks or longer. Among jobless workers younger than 35, 8.1 percent had been out of work for 99 weeks. But 16.3 percent of jobless workers older than 45 have been out of work that long, according to a new report from Gerald Mayer, a labor analyst with the Congressional Research Service. Another startling finding from Mayer’s report is that even though workers without college education were more likely to be unemployed, jobless workers with bachelor’s degrees were no less likely to become 99ers than jobless workers with just high school diplomas.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/23/unemployment-older-worker_n_978088.html

To post or not to post? Employers, workers struggle over Facebook
In the age of instant tweets and impulsive Facebook posts, some companies are still trying to figure out how they can limit what their employees say about work online without running afoul of the law. Confusion about what workers can or can’t post has led to a surge of more than 100 complaints at the National Labor Relations Board — most within the past year — and created uncertainty for businesses about how far their social media policies can go.
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/44666868/ns/technology_and_science-tech_and_gadgets/t/post-or-not-post-employers-workers-struggle-over-facebook/#.ToCjjtSPMXh

The temps-who-are-really-employees swindle
If an employee walks like a duck and swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, is he or she screwed if an employer doesn’t treat them like a duck? In the world of employee misclassification, the answer is yes. Lots of you are working your tails off for employers and if you’re doing it as an independent contractor or temp but are really acting like a full time employee you could be eligible for benefits, overtime and even unemployment if the company decides they don’t need your services any more. Not to mention lost taxes that employers would be paying if you were called an employee.
http://www.evetahmincioglu.com/web/blog/2011/09/26/the-temps-who-are-really-employees-swindle/

US poultry groups fight proposed safety rules
A proposed requirement to increase the types of work related incidents that must be reported to OSHA within eight hours is facing criticism from an alliance of US poultry groups. The proposed rule expands the reporting requirement for hospitalisations to require reporting of a single employee hospitalisation within eight hours for work-related incidents.
http://www.worldpoultry.net/news/us-poultry-groups-fight-proposed-safety-rules-9401.html

Workplace regulators have huge job, few resources to police oilfield safety
The Bismarck office of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has four people who monitor compliance for 56,000 businesses in North Dakota and South Dakota. That number is five less than it was in 2000 in a region with 5,700 producing oil and gas wells and 199 working rigs.
http://bismarcktribune.com/news/local/workplace-regulators-have-huge-job-few-resources-to-police-oilfield/article_40565398-e62d-11e0-ab93-001cc4c002e0.html#ixzz1Z5o5clZE

In death, fired nurse aids rights of workers
Anne Whitledge will never get her job back at Maxim Healthcare Services — or another paycheck or a note of thanks for her service. The St. Paul nurse died of brain cancer last year at 43. But under a federal court settlement announced this week, the Maryland health care corporation that fired Whitledge in 2009 will send a letter of condolence to her survivors — along with a check for $160,000. The closely watched lawsuit that produced Wednesday’s settlement marks an important test of the 1990 Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and is likely to change the way employers treat ailing employees, attorneys said Thursday.
http://www.startribune.com/local/stpaul/130354278.html

OSHA proposes $124,000 in fines for ABC Coke
Tarrant-based ABC Coke was cited today with 27 safety and health violations by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, after a worker died in March. The worker who died in March was crushed by a vehicle after a coal chute jammed and he attempted to fix it.
http://blog.al.com/businessnews/2011/09/osha_proposes_124000_in_fines.html

Jenny’s Dexter Market owner says hayrides have stopped following worker’s accident
Jenny’s Dexter Market has stopped offering hayrides following an accident involving a female worker Saturday afternoon. Burt Hoey, owner of the market, west of downtown Dexter, says Jenny’s has stopped the horse-led hayrides indefinitely after an employee reportedly fell forward off the wagon after one of the horses tripped. He said the worker, a 23-year-old woman, was leading the hayride, holding tight to the reins when one of the horses tripped and lunged forward, pulling her off the wagon.
http://annarbor.com/news/dexter/farmers-market-owner-says-hayrides-stopped-following-workers-accident/

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Troy Davis executed, while CEO responsible for deaths of 29 miners sails free
Last night at 11:08, Troy Anthony Davis was executed in the State of Georgia for the 1989 murder of a police officer. Much doubt existed in the case as seven of the nine witnesses recanted their testimony (one even claimed that an eighth murder witness was guilty) and no DNA or other physical evidence linked Davis to the crime. Last year on April 5, 29 miners died in a methane explosion caused by poor ventilation at the Upper Big Branch Mine in Raleigh County, W.Va. A report by the Mine Safety and Health Administration ruled that the event that caused the explosion could have easily been prevented by Massey Energy, which was well aware of a long history of safety problems in the mine.
http://www.inthesetimes.com/working/entry/11995/troy_davis_executed_while_ceo_responsible_for_deaths_of_29_miners_sails_fre/

No way to treat a guest (worker) or U.S. workers for that matter
At a recent congressional hearing called “Workforce challenges facing the agricultural industry,” one Minnesota employer explained why he relies on “guest workers” to fill his seasonal jobs. Under the U.S. Labor Department’s H-2A program, agricultural employers can obtain permission to hire foreign workers for seasonal jobs if they demonstrate there’s a shortage of U.S. workers to fill them. But, a recent report by Farmworker Justice explains why the agricultural guest worker program creates an environment ripe for abuse for both the guest workers and domestic workers.
http://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2011/09/no_way_to_treat_a_guest_worker.php

Momentum to end discrimination against unemployed jobseekers builds, but discriminatory ads continue
Mitchell Hirsch catches a whole bunch of discriminatory job listings showing up at CareerBuilder.com: The latest examples appear two months after the National Employment Law Project (NELP) released a report detailing similarly exclusionary job postings this spring. Since then, federal legislation has been introduced that would ban hiring practices, including job ads, that discriminate against unemployed workers by excluding them from consideration for employment opportunities. As these harmful practices have attracted growing attention, one leading job site — Indeed.com — recently announced it would no longer post such exclusionary ads.
http://www.todaysworkplace.org/2011/09/22/momentum-to-end-discrimination-against-unemployed-jobseekers-builds-but-discriminatory-ads-continue/

OSHA investigators get updated whistleblowers investigations manual
A new directive for conducting whistleblower investigations was issued Sept. 20 by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to address criticisms raised in two government reports. The 249-page Whistleblower Investigations Manual (CPL 02-03-003) is another step in OSHA’s overhaul of how it handles allegations of employers retaliating against workers for complaining about company practices and potentially illegal activities. The update replaces a manual issued in August 2003.
http://www.bna.com/osha-investigators-updated-n12884903549/

OSHA issues updated hazard alert on formaldehyde dangers to hair salon owners, workers after new agency findings and FDA warning letter
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued a revised hazard alert to hair salon owners and workers about potential formaldehyde exposure from working with certain hair smoothing and straightening products. The revised alert was prompted by the results of agency investigations, a warning letter issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and factually incorrect information recently sent to salons by a company that manufactures hair products.
http://www.finanznachrichten.de/21433713

State has no zip line workplace safety standards
KITV 4 News has learned zip line operations have no workplace safety regulations in Hawaii, unlike other amusement rides. Meanwhile, the state has launched a workplace fatality investigation following Wednesday’s fatal zip line accident on the Big Island.
http://www.kitv.com/news/29263275/detail.html

‘Model workplaces’: More deaths at Allegheny
This week’s death of 63-year-old Ned Johnson at one of the federal government’s “model workplaces” isn’t the first time a worker was killed at a West Virginia facility that was exempted from routine inspections by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Workers previously died while working for contractors at Allegheny Power facilities in 2007 and 2008, according to OSHA records.
http://blogs.wvgazette.com/watchdog/2011/09/21/model-workplaces-more-deaths-at-allegheny/

Lowe’s Home Centers to pay $120,000 to settle EEOC religious bias and retaliation lawsuit
Lowe’s Home Centers, Inc. will pay $120,000 and provide other relief in a settlement of a religious discrimination and retaliation lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. The EEOC’s suit (Civil Action No. 2:10-cv-00063), filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee, charged that Lowe’s violated federal law when it refused to reasonably accommodate the sincerely held religious belief of an employee at its Morristown, Tenn.,store. The worker had requested being excused from working on the Christian Sabbath. Instead, the EEOC said, the company retaliated against him when it scheduled him to work on the Sabbath for 27 out of 28 weeks.
http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/9-20-11.cfm

US Labor Department’s OSHA cites Brooklyn, NY, supermarket for locking in night shift employees, other violations; proposes more than $62,000 in fines
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited a Brooklyn supermarket for alleged willful and serious violations of workplace safety standards after an inspection found that night shift employees were locked in and not allowed to leave the building without the employer’s permission. Mermaid Meat Co., doing business as Fine Fare Supermarkets at 2901 Mermaid Ave., faces a total of $62,300 in proposed fines.
http://www.dol.gov/opa/media/press/osha/OSHA20111315.htm

Movie Puncture exposes Hep B&C, HIV dangers in needlestick injuries for nurses, healthcare workers
The movie Puncture reveals the untold true story of the enormous risks faced every day by nurses and healthcare workers exposed to dangerous and deadly bloodborne pathogens (Hepatitis B, C and HIV) through accidental needlestick injuries. Chris Evans plays the underdog attorney who takes on a medical device monopoly that sacrifices nurse and healthcare worker safety by preventing access to life saving needle innovations.
http://www.marketwatch.com/story/movie-puncture-exposes-hep-bc-hiv-dangers-in-needlestick-injuries-for-nurses-healthcare-workers-2011-09-20

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‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ ban on gays in US military ends
A policy banning open homosexuality in the US military has been repealed after nearly two decades. The dropping of “don’t ask, don’t tell” means service members can now reveal they are gay without fear of investigation or discharge.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-14981082

In early Obama White House, female staffers felt frozen out
Friction about the roles of women in the Obama White House grew so intense during the first two years of the president’s tenure that he was forced to take steps to reassure senior women on his staff that he valued their presence and their input. At a dinner in November 2009, several senior female aides complained directly to the president that men enjoyed greater access to him and often muscled them out of key policy discussions.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/friction-over-womens-role-in-obama-white-house-was-intense/2011/09/19/gIQA9OUygK_story.html?hpid=z2

Nikki Haley: Jobless on drugs claim from bad information
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) has admitted that she has no evidence backing her claim that half of job applicants at a local government facility flunked a drug test. She’d used the claim to push for requiring the jobless to pass a drug test to be eligible for benefits.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/20/nikki-haley-drug-test-jobless-unemployment_n_971672.html

Chamber sues NLRB over union poster rule
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has sued the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to block its new regulation that would have employers post notices informing employees of their right to form a union. The Chamber joins at least two other prominent business groups in Washington — the National Association of Manufacturers and the National Federation of Independent Business — that have sued the labor board over the union poster rule.
http://thehill.com/blogs/transportation-report/labor-employment/182597-chamber-sues-nlrb-over-union-poster-rule

Did OSHA fail workers at Harrison Power Station?
In today’s Gazette, we followed up on the death on Sunday of Ned Johnson, a 63-year-old longtime employee of FirstEnergy’s Harrison Power Station near Clarksburg. Specifically, we examined the sad fact that this particular worksite had not been inspected by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration in more than a decade.
http://blogs.wvgazette.com/watchdog/2011/09/20/did-osha-fail-workers-at-harrison-power-station/

Inside Amazon’s warehouse
During summer heat waves, Amazon arranged to have paramedics parked in ambulances outside, ready to treat any workers who dehydrated or suffered other forms of heat stress. Those who couldn’t quickly cool off and return to work were sent home or taken out in stretchers and wheelchairs and transported to area hospitals. And new applicants were ready to begin work at any time. An emergency room doctor in June called federal regulators to report an “unsafe environment” after he treated several Amazon warehouse workers for heat-related problems. The doctor’s report was echoed by warehouse workers who also complained to regulators, including a security guard who reported seeing pregnant employees suffering in the heat.
http://www.mcall.com/news/local/mc-allentown-amazon-complaints-20110917,0,7937001,full.story

Tyson Foods forking over $32 million in wage settlement
For years, meatpacking companies refused to compensate workers for the time they spent suiting up for work and putting on safety gear. But now Tyson Foods Inc. is paying the price. As The Wall Street Journal reports, Tyson Foods has agreed to fork over up to $32 million to settle 12-year-old litigation seeking compensation for the time hourly poultry-plant workers need to get in and out of their work garb and gear.
http://www.fairwarning.org/2011/09/tyson-foods-forking-over-32-million-in-wage-settlement/

Worker’s eye, facial injuries lead to firm’s $175,500 fine
OSHA has cited Spincraft in North Billerica, Mass., for 38 alleged violations of workplace safety standards. An inspection was opened after OSHA learned that a worker sustained serious eye and facial injuries when the grinding wheel of the portable grinder he was operating ruptured and kicked back in his face. Inspectors found that the grinder was not guarded or set up properly, and steps had not been taken to ensure that it was operated at the proper speed. The metal fabrication plant faces a total of $175,500 in proposed penalties.
http://ohsonline.com/articles/2011/09/20/workers-eye-facial-injuries-lead-to-firms-75500-fine.aspx?admgarea=news

OSHA cites La Crosse brewery for safety violations
A federal workplace-safety agency has cited City Brewing Co. for 16 serious safety violations at its La Crosse, Wis., brewery. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration says the violations include failure to comply with certain safety standards, resulting in workers being exposed to ammonia during the maintenance of pipe lines.
http://www.canadianbusiness.com/article/46205–osha-cites-la-crosse-brewery-for-safety-violations

Workers at Chrysler engine plants protest shifts
As Chrysler Group LLC nears a four-year contract with the United Auto Workers union, workers at a Chrysler engine plant have threatened a local strike and say production schedules threaten quality and safety. Punishing and routine schedule changes that have workers pulling a day shift one week and an evening shift the next have upset many of the more than 400 hourly employees at the Dundee, Michigan, plant owned and run by Chrysler’s Global Engine Manufacturing Alliance, or GEMA. Workers at the Dundee and Trenton plants say that Chrysler has the workers on a rotating shift schedule that calls for them to move between days and nights in order to limit costly overtime.
http://www.kfor.com/sns-rt-us-autos-chryslertre78i5x2-20110919,0,1517661.story

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More workers willing to blow the whistle on their employer
Employees are increasingly willing these days to blow the whistle when they see fraud, corruption and general unlawful behavior at their employers. Since 2005, there’s been a spike in whistleblower cases filed with the federal government, according to the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA.
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/44524270/ns/business-personal_finance/#.Tneov9SPMXg

Employers shift disability insurance costs to workers and trim benefits
Disability insurance is one of those under-the-radar benefits you may take for granted, especially if your employer picks up the tab for the coverage, as many firms do. Because of that, as annual benefit enrollment time approaches you probably aren’t worried about examining your disability coverage details and costs the way you will your health insurance plan options. But you should. The same pattern that has emerged in health insurance — employers’ shifting more costs onto workers’ shoulders and trimming or eliminating benefits — is occurring in disability coverage.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/employers-shift-disability-insurance-costs-to-workers-and-trim-benefits/2011/09/14/gIQAHptqfK_story.html

Fox’s war on regulations takes on child labor, workplace safety, civil rights laws
As part of its week-long special targeting government regulations, Fox’s “straight news” program, Special Report with Bret Baier, listed “jobs regulations” that supposedly “adversely impact … small business owners in a real-time way.” However, the regulations listed by Fox include vital statutes that are the bedrock of 20th and 21st Century worker protections in the United States.
http://mediamatters.org/research/201109170003

World Bank: Women are 40 percent of world’s workforce but have just one percent of its wealth
The World Bank has released its latest World Development Report on Gender Equality and Development, and the findings show the depths of economic and social inequalities between men and women. Shockingly, the report notes that women are 40 percent of the world’s labor force but only have 1 percent of its wealth.
http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2011/09/19/322897/women-40-percent-1-percent/

Drug, alcohol impact on workers comp claims disputed
There are service providers, bloggers, anti-drug organizations and even state agencies that claim alcohol or drugs are involved in up to half of workers compensation cases, but experts say the data appears to be bogus. Insurers, workers comp research organizations and federal workplace safety agencies say that neither they nor any group or agency they know of collects data on the number of comp claims where the use of drugs or alcohol is a factor.
http://www.businessinsurance.com/article/20110918/NEWS08/309189977?tags=|79|304|92#

Wal-Mart and women: skeptics question new initiatives
Last week, Wal-Mart announced the latest component of its relatively successful campaign to shift its image from corporate villain to socially responsible role model. The company promised that it would double its business with women-owned contractors and suppliers in the U.S. and internationally, and educate and train hundreds of thousands of women through its nonprofit Wal-Mart Foundation. That means the company will buy products from more women-owned factories and farms and hire more women to construct its stores. The move comes after Wal-Mart was up against the largest sex-discrimination class-action lawsuit in history, until the Supreme Court threw it out this summer.
http://www.todaysworkplace.org/2011/09/19/wal-mart-and-women-skeptics-question-new-initiatives/

Safety of SeaWorld trainers questioned in OSHA hearing
Lawyers for the federal government said Monday that SeaWorld animal trainers cannot safely work in close contact with killer whales, as they opened what is expected to be a weeklong legal hearing that could ultimately determine the future of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment’s world-famous Shamu shows. “SeaWorld’s killer-whale training program doesn’t change the essential facts that harm or death to people is possible,” Black said. “Their program doesn’t eliminate what SeaWorld itself recognizes as a calculated risk.”
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/os-seaworld-osha-hearing-monday-20110919,0,2596203.story

SeaWorld fights OSHA findings in whale trainer’s death
SeaWorld Orlando is fighting $75,000 in penalties from a federal workplace safety agency after last year’s death of a trainer who was attacked by a killer whale and dragged under water. A hearing is set for today before an administrative judge in the Orlando suburb of Sanford. SeaWorld is expected to argue that three safety citations issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration after an investigation into trainer Dawn Brancheau’s death last year are unfounded.
http://www2.tbo.com/news/nation-world/2011/sep/19/menewso8-seaworld-fights-osha-findings-in-whale-tr-ar-258753/

Disney cited for safety violations following death of mechanic on Animal Kingdom roller coaster
Federal investigators have cited Walt Disney World with four workplace-safety violations, and proposed $69,000 in fines, following a probe into the death of a resort mechanic who was killed while working on a roller coaster in Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2011-09-16/the-daily-disney/os-disney-roller-coaster-death-20110916_1_animal-kingdom-roller-roller-coaster-primeval-whirl

Safety risks underscored by violations at ExxonMobil refinery
As an investigation by the Center for Public Integrity’s iWatch News has shown , oil refining is one of the country’s most dangerous industries, where even seemingly small recurring events such as equipment breakdowns and fires can have fatal consequences. OSHA this week made public its findings at ExxonMobil’s Baton Rouge refinery: Nearly two dozen safety violations, most of which the agency says presented a “substantial probability” of death or serious harm. The company failed to adequately inspect equipment, analyze potential dangers and investigate past incidents – violations that could have resulted in a fire or explosion, according to OSHA.
http://www.iwatchnews.org/2011/09/19/6653/safety-risks-underscored-violations-exxonmobil-refinery/

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