Occupational Health & Safety

Category archives for Occupational Health & Safety

OSHA’s proposed silica regulation: Let the public hearings begin!

Over the next three weeks, more than 200 individuals are scheduled to testify at OSHA’s public hearing on its proposed silica regulation. Unlike other regulatory agencies, OSHA’s rulemaking hearings are overseen by an administrative law judge. Those who testify can cross-examine and be cross-examined by other witnesses and agency officials.

When President Obama signed the Food Safety Modernization Act into law in 2011, it was described as the most sweeping reform of the nation’s food safety laws in nearly a century. Public health advocates hailed the law for shifting regulatory authority from reaction to prevention. What received less attention was a first-of-its-kind provision that protects workers who expose food safety lawbreakers.

While the Senate is pressing the EPA to prevent future chemical disasters, legislation has been introduced in Congress that would, if enacted, make it harder for the public to obtain information about chemical hazards, either in industrial storage tanks or consumer products. While state and local governments – and many manufacturers – are responding to growing public is demand for safer chemicals and more information about chemicals used in products – industry trade associations are promoting legislation that appears to counter that progress.

Daylight saving time and public health consequences

Daylight saving time policies data back more than 100 years. What do we know about their effect on health?

Occupational Health News Roundup

Poultry workers travel to Washington, DC to ask the Obama administration to rescind a proposed rule that would allow for faster processing-line speeds; a camera assistant is killed during a railway film shoot; and a Tennessee lawmaker has introduced bills to improve worker health safety in that state.

By Jonathan Heller. Author Nicholas Freudenberg advocates that we “return to the public sector the right to set health policy and to limit corporations’ freedom to profit at the expense of public health.” We should also think specifically about obligations corporations have to their workers, at a time when the minimum wage is inadequate, wage theft is common among low-wage workers, and millions of US workers lack paid sick time.

“For us it’s personal,” said Jeannie Economos, Farmworker Association of Florida Pesticide Safety and Environmental Health Project Coordinator. “It’s a daily issue for us. Every day with a weaker protection standard is another day a worker is exposed to pesticides,” she said. On February 20th the EPA proposed revisions to its Worker Protection Standard for agricultural pesticides. Farm worker advocates are welcoming the proposal – the first update since 1992 – but see both improvements and what some are calling “steps backward.”

More than a month after the Freedom Industries chemical spill in West Virginia, it remains unclear if Charleston’s water is truly safe to drink and what the health consequences of exposure to these chemicals may be. Legislation has been introduced that calls for more inspections, better tank construction, overflow containment and emergency response. But why not go beyond and also call for safer chemistry?

Industry has abandoned the dangerous practice; let’s seal the deal with an OSHA regulation

OSHA says that the power-generation industry has abandoned a deadly practice that led to the February 2010 death of six Connecticut workers. It’s not a heavy lift for OSHA to prohibit the practice once and for all.

Occupational Health News Roundup

Anniversaries of two deadly workplace disasters remind us of the hazards of combustible dust and gas blows; a former Cal/OSHA employee warns that the agency is dangerously understaffed; and CDC uses sugar-industry money to fund studies into the epidemic of chronic kidney disease striking Central American sugarcane workers.