Archives for October, 2008

Occupational Health News Roundup

It’s open season at many workplaces, the time when employers who offer health benefits let employees choose among different health coverage options for the coming year. The Wall Street Journal’s Anna Wilde Matthews reports that companies are reluctant to raise workers’ share of premiums, given that wages are stagnant, and many are instead increasing deductibles…

Miners want another hearing on drug testing rule

The United Steelworkers (USW) and the United Mine Workers (UMWA) have sent letters to Asst. Secretary of Labor Richard Stickler asking for additional hearings and a longer public comment period for its proposed rule on mandatory drug and alcohol testing for workers in the mining industry.  In one press account, the public hearings yesterday were called…

MSHA’s E-Hearing: A Logistical Nightmare

Last month, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) proposed a rule that would require all U.S. mine operators to adopt the Dept of Transportation’s 100-page regulation on drug- and alcohol-testing.  Setting aside the fact that MSHA’s proposal is a poorly designed, substantiated and written, the following is a news account, reported by Mine Safety…

Lesson for Labor Dept about Open Access

The Labor Department’s 30-day public comment period on its risk assessment proposed rule closed 14 days ago.  There are 117 items appearing in the on-line docket at Regulations.gov, including my own 9-page letter of opposition.  What I didn’t expect to see was notice saying that one of my attachments was not being posted in the electronic docket because it is “subject to copyright protections”…

Mr. Bill Oxley was working at the Bayer CropScience plant in Institute, WV on August 28.  At about 10:25 pm, a massive fireball erupted at the facility, killing his co-worker, Barry Withrow, 45.  The dramatic facts surrounding this explosion included that plant officials told the dispatchers that an emergency situation was in progress, but as far…

The Mayor of Houston, Texas Bill White wants the Lyondell Chemical Refinery to justify and defend its practice of emitting tons of benzene annually into the air.  (In 2007, the refinery reported emissions of 39 tons, which they proudly noted was below their 58 ton annual cap.)  The Houston Chronicle’s Matthew Tresaugue reports that the Mayor’s office…

Flu as Child Killer

by revere, cross-posted at Effect Measure Every parent’s or grandparent’s nightmare is to have their darling little one suddenly carried off by illness. Flu isn’t on the radar screen of most parents but in recent years the public health community is taking notice. The first alarm occurred in the bad flu season of 2003 –…

MSHA Hits Galatia Mine with $1.46M Penalty

“American Coal Co. repeatedly demonstrated its failure to comply with basic safety laws over a number of months, and for that it must be held accountable.”  (Asst. Secretary of Labor for MSHA Richard Stickler) Yesterday, MSHA issued a news release announcing that the operator of the Galatia Mine in Saline County, Illinois was receving $1.46 million…

Occupational Health News Roundup

Nevada’s OSHA has found that the death of a carpenter was caused by the contractor’s pressuring employees to put construction speed before safety.  Lyndal Bates, 49, was working at the construction site of a new casino in the Las Vegas strip last June when he mistakenly attached his safety harness to a piece of scaffolding…

The Toll of Coal

By Nathan Fetty Every so often, my wife and I take our daughter, who’s now two-and-a-half, on one of our favorite walks in the country here in central West Virginia.  To get there, unfortunately, we have to pass by torrents of orange acid mine drainage (photo examples here and here) and through a landscape brutalized by…