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Nevada bill seeks to limit industry influence on OSHA

Senator Maggie Carlton, chairwoman of the Nevada Senate Labor Committee, has introduced legislation to take the state OSHA program out of its home in the Business and Industry Department, in an effort to strengthen the agency. Nevada's OSHA program has been under scrutiny due to a rash of construction deaths in the past year. Carlton said that she was hoping to distance OSHA inspectors from political pressure, allowing them to do their job of protecting worker safety.

OSHA to fast-track Popcorn Lung Reg's

The Department of Labor announced this week that it is withdrawing an "Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking" for diacetyl, the flavoring chemical that has caused lung disease among popcorn workers. The Advanced Notice was seen by advocates as a delaying tactic. The new Department of Labor leadership took quick action to remove the proposal in order to move directly into issuing a standard.

Popcorn flavoring victims dies as jury awards $7.5 million

Andrew Schneider of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, who has done a fabulous job of covering a variety of worker safety and health issues, reports that Ronald Kuiper, a victim of diacetyl exposure, died a day before a jury awarded him $7.5 million. But, Schneider argues, government agencies including the FDA and OSHA have done little to protect the public from the harmful effects of diacetyl.

Schneider reports that Kuiper had contacted him and thanked him for getting public attention to the issue, but said he was frustrated at the lack of federal action. As Schneider explains:

House Energy and Commerce Committee Announces Investigation into Bayer CropScience Explosion

Representative Henry Waxman announced that his Energy and Commerce Committee would hold a hearing on April 23 to investigate the August explosion at Bayer CropScience that killed two workers. See the committee announcement here.

Read commentary by Ken Ward of Sustained Outrage a blog at the Charleston (WV) Gazette:

GAO Report Criticizes OSHA's Handling of Whistleblower Law

A new report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) says that whistleblowers who point out illegal activities under a wide range of federal laws are often unprotected from retaliation. OSHA is responsible for investigating whistleblower complaints under 17 federal laws. The GAO report found that inadequate tracking of complaints and insufficient resources resulted in weak protections for whistleblowers, with only one in five complaints upheld.

Bill introduced in Nevada to require construction safety training

Responding to a spate of construction deaths in Las Vegas over the past two years, Nevada legislators are considering a bill to require all construction workers in the state to take the "OSHA 10"--the ten hour training course that provides the basics of construction safety. Supervisors would be required to take a 30 hour course Both labor and industry representatives have come out in support of the bill. Nevada OSHA would be required to issue certification cards for those who have received the training.

Another NYC Sanitation Worker Dies on the Job

Stephen Dixon, a 61 year old sanitation worker in Queens, died of a heart attack on the job this morning, according to the New York Times. He is the eighth NYC sanitation worker to die on the job in the past six years.

Harry Nespoli, president of the Uniformed Sanitationmen’s Association, Local 831 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, was quoted in the Times as pointing to several sanitation workers who had been killed in job accidents in recent years:

Fall Hazards=Big Fines

OSHA has hit two construction employers with big fines in the last couple days for fall hazards. A case in Miami of a roofer who fell 40 feet to his death resulted in a fine of $54,100 levied against Southern Certified, Inc. Roofer Jose Espinales reportedly tripped and fell over a ledge to his death. The South Florida Sun Sentinel reported that, unbelievably, "after Espinales' death, the company continued to let other employees work on the same roof without proper fall protection, according to OSHA's report." (!) What were they thinking???

Carwash Workers Win Health and Safety Battle

A group of carwash workers who had received training and assistance with workplace health and safety issues from Southern California COSH and other members of the Community-Labor-Environmental Action Network, succeeded in getting CAL-OSHA's attention to their concerns. The agency issued issued $18,890 in citations for health and safety violations against the owners of Auto Spa Express Car Wash. The case proves the value of community-based worker training on workers' rights to OSHA protections.

Read more here.

Former Inspectors Allege Fraud at MN OSHA

Former Inspectors Allege Fraudulent Actions by MN OSHA Program: Citations against "Star" Companies Discouraged

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