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National COSH is thankful for its 2013 health and safety awardees

As the time winds down before we break from our conference planning to sit down for a nice Thanksgiving dinner, we want to take the time to share what we at National COSH are thankful for. We are thankful for you – all of our activists, advocates, trainers, leaders, academics, labor folk, and workers – who day after day put the health and safety of workers above all else. You provide a voice to those afraid to speak up; you empower workers to know their rights and stand up for themselves on the job; you fight for workers who have been put in harm’s way or retaliated against. You make it all happen.

In this season of giving thanks, it seems appropriate to announce the winners of the National COSH 2013 Health and Safety Activist Awards. Our decisions were not easy to make: We received more nominations than ever before, highlighting the excellent work of many worker safety and health leaders across the country.

The awardees will be honored during the National Worker Safety and Health Conference next month in Baltimore. Buy your tickets here.

Without further ado, here are our award winners:

Tony Mazzocchi Lifetime Achievement Award: Bill Kojola, AFL-CIO

Trainer/Educator Award: Joyce Sagi, American Federation of Teachers

Health and Safety Activist Award: Christina Iturralde and Tom Fritzsche, Southern Poverty Law Center

Family/Community Award: Adriana Martinez, Houston Area COSH

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Walmart isn’t having a good week – especially when it comes to news about how the company treats its workers. We aren’t so impressed.

OSHA sends strong message in response to fatal Philadelphia building collapse

Last week, OSHA handed down nearly $400,000 in fines against two Philadelphia contractors responsible for the June building collapse that killed six people and injured 14. It was a hefty fine accompanied by a strong message – jeopardizing workers’ safety will not be tolerated.

Public Citizen reports underscore value of protecting workers' safety

Our friends at Public Citizen are keeping us busy today with the release of two new reports touching on workers’ safety and health.

Miners' safety woes in the spotlight: Two very different accounts of miner experiences

Miner photo by Earl DotterIt’s been a rough week in the news for miners and those who care about their health and safety.

Groups launch effort to improve health and safety for temporary workers

The use of temporary labor has skyrocketed in recent years, with temporary help accounting for 15 percent of all job growth nationally the past four years. That number is likely to be even larger, as companies are responsible for reporting whether they utilize temporary labor.

Whistleblower protections under OSH Act are lacking, new report finds

With OSHA functioning on a shoestring budget that only has the resources to inspect workplaces, on average, once every 131 years, it is vitally important that workers who face on-the-job hazards be able to speak up and flag potential dangers.

But according to a report issued this week by the Center for Effective Government, the protections in place to shield employees from retaliation should they report a concern are lacking. 

The West, Texas, OSHA fines: Just a slap on the wrist?

We wrote last week about the fines imposed on the parent company of the West, Texas, fertilizer plant whose April explosion that killed 15 and injured more than 300. We said that it sent a message that neglecting workers’ safety would not be tolerated, but that when compared to the value of the lives lost, the penalty was paltry. 

We must raise the bar for worker safety in Bangladesh and U.S.

Tragedy strikes the garment factories of Bangladesh as another fire takes the lives of at least 10 workers. 

The fire at the garment factory Aswad Composite Mills, located in Gazipur, Bangladesh, comes about six months after the catastrophic garment factory collapse in Dhaka – about 25 miles away – which killed more than 1,100 workers.

Aswad Composite Mills produces clothing for Western retailers such as Wal-Mart, Loblaw Cos., and Hudson’s Bay Co.

Troubling stories in mine safety

Miners heading home - Photo by Earl DotterWe had written earlier this year about a spate of miner deaths, especially in West Virginia.

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