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Franken introduces Safe Patient Handling Bill in Senate

Senator Al Franken (D-MN) has introduced S. 1788, a bill that would direct OSHA to issue a safe patient handling and injury prevention standard. The bill is a companion bill to HR 2381, the Nurse and Health Care Worker Protection Act of 2009  introduced by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI.)
 
“Nurses and health-care workers shouldn’t have to sacrifice their safety and their livelihood to help others,” Franken said in a statement. “Especially when many of these injuries could be prevented.”

Miraculously Low Injury Rates in Poultry Plants

All is well at the poultry plants run by the House of Raeford in the Carolinas, at least according to an investigation by the South Carolina Workers' Compensation Commission. A year and a half ago, the Charlotte Observer published an exposé on the company, uncovering a series of abuses in its treatment of injured workers and failure to report job injuries. In a recent follow-up story, the Observer reported on the results of the Commission's audit of the company, which cleared House of Raeford of nearly all the allegations contained in the Observer's in-depth investigation. 
 

Michaels Nomination and "Sound Science"

This is an excellent piece from the Center for Progressive Reform blog on conservative opposition to the nomination of David Michaels for the OSHA Director position: 'Sound Science' Attack on OSHA Nominee David Michaels Is Drenched in Irony
by Sidney Shapiro

Line Speed in Meatpacking Plants "Non-Negotiable"

For many years, worker advocates have been arguing that the only way to reduce repetitive strain injuries in meat processing plants is to reduce the speed of the lines. Nebraska Appleseed, a worker advocacy organization based in Lincoln, NE, is renewing that call for the state's meatpacking plants. But the Lincoln JournalStar reports that they face stiff industry opposition. See the article here.
 

Fourth of July Toll: Five Workers Dead

Martez Holland is lying in he burn unit at UNC Hospital in Chapel Hill, his body struggling to recover from third degree burns to his face, arms, and hands from a fireworks explosion on Ocracoke Island in North Carolina. He is the lucky one--four of his co-workers were killed in the July 4th incident, when the truck they were unloading exploded. Charles Kirkland died instantly. Mark Hill, Lisa Simmons, and Terry Holland were rushed to the hospital where they all perished.

OSHA Proposes $1.1 Million in Fines for Confined Space Haz's

OSHA is sending a strong signal that it takes confined space hazards seriously--proposed fines of over a million dollars on Wisconsin-based Milk Specialties Company. OSHA cited the company for willful violations of its confined space entry and control of hazardous energy requirements. OSHA alleges that untrained employees entered confined spaces and performed maintenance and cleaning on powered equipment without protection from various hazards. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.

Another Worker Dies at NC Meat Plant

In the second fatal incident this month at a North Carolina meat processing plant, a Fayetteville, NC man was killed when an ammonia line ruptured at the Mountaire Farms poultry plant in Lumber Bridge, NC. At least five others were injured, some in critical condition.

These two fatal incidents again raise questions about the safety of North Carolina's meat processing industry, which were exposed in "The Cruelest Cuts,"a fine series of articles by the Charlotte Observer last year.

Austin Statesman: Construction Deaths "Tragedy" not "Accident"

In an excellent editorial today, the Austin Statesman decried the enormous toll of human life taken by failures to protect construction workers in Texas from safety hazards. The deaths of three men who fell from a broken scaffold on a high-rise apartment building under construction were a reminder of the sad state of construction safety in Texas.

Let us do our Job! CAL OSHA Inspectors to Appeals Board

A group of 47 CAL OSHA field inspectors, senior and district managers have written a letter of complaint to members of the California OSHA Appeals Board protesting "Board policies and practices that have significantly undermined our ability to do our job of protecting the lives, health and safety of California’s workers." The letter alleges that the Appeals Board has for over four years followed a deliberate policy of scheduling hearings in such a way that it is impossible for inspectors to do their job properly:

Dying for Work in New York

(New York, NY - June 11) The New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) today released a new report on worker deaths in New York State and presented a copy of the report to Jordan Barab, Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

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