Occupational Health News Roundup

The death toll from the tragic mine disaster in Siberia has reached 107, the Associated Press reports today. About 200 mineworkers were underground when a methane gas explosion occurred nearly 900 feet below the surface. Russian President Vladimir Putin has declared today a national day of mourning for the victims of this disaster and a deadly nursing home fire that claimed 62 lives in the city of Kamyshevatskaya.

Houston Chronicle: At a hearing last night, residents and refinery workers praised the Chemical Safety Board’s report on the deadly explosion at BP’s Texas City refinery; the report blamed the blast on BP management’s long-term disregard for safety, and also pointed to years of lax regulatory oversight at the plant, and recommended that OSHA significantly step up its enforcement of federal safety laws in the refining industry. (See David Michaels’ 3/20 posts on BP here and here.)

Washington Post: The “tunnel rat” crew that toils beneath the U.S. Capitol are being exposed to airborne asbestos at more than 30 times the legal limit. Crew supervisor John Thayer spoke out at a Senate hearing earlier this month, and reports that the response he’s gotten so far is retaliation and harassment from superiors. (Hat tip to Brett.)

Cox News Service: A new report released by a civil rights organization describes the ways that foreign citizens who come to the United States as guest workers are routinely cheated out of wages, forced to live in squalid conditions, and denied medical care for workplace injuries.

UPI: A bill introduced in Congress would require all businesses with 15 or more workers to offer seven days of paid sick leave.

Occupational Hazards: EPA has added two new lead dust studies to its docket for the proposed work practice standard to reduce exposures to lead hazards; public comments can be submitted until April 16th.

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