Occupational Health News Roundup

On January 20th, Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper published the results of six months’ worth of interviews with employees from the building site of Beijing’s Olympic stadium:

CHINA has systematically covered up the accidental deaths of at least 10 workers, and perhaps many more, in a rush to construct the futuristic “bird’s nest” stadium in Beijing for this summer’s Olympic Games … In interviews workers talked of the relentless pressure to get the job done, of abusive subcontractors who frequently withheld pay in violation of China’s labour laws and of harsh restrictions on their personal lives in thin-walled dormitories where men bunked 12 to a room.

Chinese officials initially denied that any deaths had occurred, but on Juanuary 28th acknowledged that six workers have died in the construction of Olympic venues, two of them at the “bird’s nest” stadium.

In other news:

Charleston Gazette: The Mine Safety and Health administration failed to assess civil penalties for approximately 4,000 violations over the last six years.

Associated Press: Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility is suing Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection on behalf of Thomas White, who was fired from his position as a DEP senior chemist after he attempted to expose problems with South Florida water quality planning.

National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety: NIOSH has issued an Interim Guidance on Medical Screening of Workers Potentially Exposed to Engineered Nanoparticles, and is accepting written comments on it through February 15th.

Washington Post: A new Bush administration proposal would require truck drivers to complete an accredited training program before getting a commercial license; currently, truckers only have to pass state exams.

Occupational Health & Safety: Minnesota’s OSHA has awarded $500,000 to 67 healthcare facilities for training and equipment allowing employees to lift or move physically challenged patients safely; under the state’s Safe Patient Handling law, Minnesota healthcare facilities must establish plans to minimize manual lifting of patients by 2011.

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