Archives for January, 2011

by Elizabeth Grossman The 398-page National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling final Report to the President on the Deepwater Horizon: The Gulf Oil Disaster and the Future of Offshore Drilling, released January 11, offers a scathing critique of the offshore oil-drilling industry’s approach to safety and of the U.S.…

Better Care for the Sickest Patients

Atul Gawande’s latest New Yorker article, “The Hot Spotters,” is a must-read for anyone concerned about the out-of-control growth of US healthcare costs (and that description should apply to everyone in this country). It’s about possible solutions to the problem of the highest-cost patients, who account for a disproportionate share of healthcare spending but often…

Gym regulars might grumble when classes and locker rooms fill with resolute new members each January, but the crowds rarely last long. I’m sure many gyms’ revenue models depend on members who pay monthly fees but use the facilities infrequently, if at all. These people (and I’ve been one in the past) are essentially throwing…

Cholera has killed roughly 3,800 people in Haiti and sickened another 189,000, and it will continue to circulate in the population for the foreseeable future. The good news is that the number of new cases per week has dropped from 12,000, which it reached in November, to about 4,700, and the mortality rate has also…

The “state” of the US workforce depends on who you ask

The new chairman of the House Committee on Education and Labor the Workforce will hold the panel’s inaugural hearing on Wed. Jan 26, 2010. The topic: the “State of the American Workforce” with invited testimony from the current Governor of Virginia, president of a conservative think tank, a North Carolina small businessman representing the National…

Willful violations assessed by OSHA in grain elevator deaths, insurers named in announcement

OSHA proposed penalties totaling nearly $1.4 million against two Illinois companies for violations of safety standards that led to the deaths of three workers last summer in grain elevators. Haasbach LLC received 24 violations, including 12 classified as willful, for failing to take steps to workers from engulfed 30 feet deep in corn. Alex Pacas,…

Occupational Health News Roundup

On April 5, 2010, a massive explosion at Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch Mine in Montcoal, West Virginia, killed 29 miners. Last week, federal Mine Safety and Health Administration investigators briefed victims’ relatives on what MSHA thinks happened at the mine. (MSHA’s official final report is not expected for another 2-3 months, though.) NPR’s Howard…

by Elizabeth Grossman On August 28, 2008 at 10:53 p.m., a massive explosion and fire, caused by a runaway chemical reaction, ripped through the Bayer CropScience pesticide plant in Institute, West Virginia. It killed two workers and injured eight employees, two contractors, and six fire-fighters, all of whom were treated for possible toxic chemical exposure.…

Baffled by opposition to finding and fixing workplace safety hazards

The construction trade association Associated Building Contractors (ABC) was one of 150 business groups that received a letter from Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) in December, asking for their ideas about federal regulations “that have negatively impacted job growth.” ABC responded with a list heavy on opposition to labor protections, such as requirements for prevailing wage…

In the new executive order, which Rena Steinzor wrote about yesterday, President Obama stated that agencies must “propose or adopt a regulation only upon a reasoned determination that its benefits justify its costs.” This isn’t a revolutionary requirement; public-health agencies are already required to demonstrate cost-effectiveness of proposed regulations. For instance, when Occupational Safety and…