Occupational Health &amp; Safety https://scienceblogs.com/ en #MeToo: Health consequences of harassment at work https://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/10/25/metoo-health-consequences-of-harassment-at-work <span>#MeToo: Health consequences of harassment at work</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Celebrity chef <a href="http://www.chefjohnbesh.com/about/">John Besh</a> has joined Harvey Weinstein and Bill O’Reilly in news headlines about sexual harassment in the workplace. The New Orleans-based Besh has received numerous James Beard awards and has appeared on the Bravo TV network’s show Top Chef. His offenses were reported this week by Brett Anderson at <em>The Times-Picayune</em>. The reporter’s<a href="https://www.nola.com/business/index.ssf/2017/10/john_besh_restaurants_fostered.html"> eight-month long investigation</a> included interviews with 25 current and former employees of the <a href="http://www.chefjohnbesh.com/restaurants/">Besh Restaurant Group</a>.</p> <p>Brett Anderson’s story includes a copy of one of the EEOC complaints filed by a former employee. That employee says:</p> <blockquote><p>"Vulgar and offensive comments, aggressive unwelcome touching and sexual advances were condoned and sometimes even encouraged by managers and supervisors."</p></blockquote> <p>She adds:</p> <blockquote><p>"The rampant sexual misbehavior and harassment by the owners and managers of BRG had become unbearable and was adversely affecting my mental and physical health."</p></blockquote> <p>A work environment that tolerates sexual harrassment and unwanted sexual attention adversely affects women and men's health. The evidence includes:</p> <ul><li>Jagdish Khubchandani and James H. Price <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25399052">examined the relationship</a> between workplace harassment and psychological and physical health. Using data from the 2010 National Health Interview Survey, about 8 percent of the 17,524 respondents reported being harassed at work in the past 12 months. Harassment was associated with psychosocial distress, pain disorders, work loss, bed days, and worsening health.</li> <li>Nabe-Nielsen and her colleagues in Denmark examined unwanted sexual attention and bullying in the workplace and its relationship to poor sleep. The used data from the Danish workers' compensation system and survey responses from 7,650 individuals over a two-year period. The authors reported the odds of experiencing <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27137811">30 or more consecutive sick days</a> were significantly increased by unwanted sexual attention (OR 1.55; 95 % CI 1.06-2.29).</li> <li>Cassandra Okechukwu and colleagues <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3047344/">review dozens of papers</a> that explore symptoms of anxiety, depression, PTSD, and other health effects experienced by individuals who are victims of workplace bullying and sexual harassment.</li> </ul><p>Many individuals who work in the restaurant industry specifically describe a tolerance for sexual harassment. It's a message that comes through loud and clear in 12 reports by the <a href="http://rocunited.org/">Restaurant Opportunity Center</a> (ROC) of food service workers in 12 different U.S. cities.  In John Besh's hometown of New Orleans, ROC members interviewed 530 restaurant workers. The results were released in the 2013 report, "<a href="http://rocunited.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/reports_bkd-nola.pdf">Behind the Kitchen Door: Inequality, Instability, and Opportunity in the Greater New Orleans Restaurant Industry.</a>" Among its findings, eight percent of those surveyed reported experiencing sexual harassment on the job. From the report:</p> <blockquote><p>"A bartender in the industry who has been in the industry for six years explains that 'sexual harassment is a horrible problem in the French Quarter. Women do not get any respect. Men are put through the same thing as women. If you even say anything to anyone you are immediately losing your job, and coming here was my first experience with sexual harassment.' Women workers we interviewed often described the back of the house as a place where explicit sexual comments could be made and even physical contact in inappropriate ways."</p></blockquote> <p>Similarly themed interview excerpts appear in <a href="http://rocunited.org/our-work/#research">all of the reports</a>---whether the restaurant workers were in Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Maine, Miami, District of Columbia, Philadelphia, Seattle, or Oakland/San Francisco----sexual harassment emerges as a common theme.</p> <p>A hostile work environment is an occupational health problem. A work environment that tolerates sexual harassment makes workers ill. It may be the work condition of most significant concern to workers in some workplaces, yet largely absent or ignored in typical safety programs.</p> <p>CDC's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), however, urges employers, safety professionals and researchers to consider work-related determinants of health more broadly. The agency's <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/twh/default.html">Total Worker Health</a> model for workplace health and safety recommends a holistic approach in which the work environment includes much more than unguarded equipment, falls hazards, and chemical exposures. The model includes the broadest range of work environment topics, including excessive overtime, wages, downsizing, as well as bullying and harassment.</p> <p>NIOSH's <a href="https://www.twhsymposium.org/">2nd International Symposium on Total Worker Health</a> is scheduled for May 2018. The agency is <a href="https://www.twhsymposium.org/call-for-abstracts/">accepting abstracts</a> until October 31. I urge the agency to organize a #MeToo session which further examines sexual harassment as an occupational health issue.</p> <p> </p> </div> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/author/cmonforton" lang="" about="/author/cmonforton" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">cmonforton</a></span> <span>Wed, 10/25/2017 - 05:21</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/labor-rights" hreflang="en">labor rights</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/legal" hreflang="en">Legal</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/niosh" hreflang="en">NIOSH</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/occupational-health-safety" hreflang="en">Occupational Health &amp; Safety</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/metoo" hreflang="en">#MeToo</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/john-besh" hreflang="en">John Besh</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/restaurant-workers" hreflang="en">restaurant workers</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/roc-united" hreflang="en">ROC-United</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/sexual-harassment" hreflang="en">sexual harassment</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/total-worker-health" hreflang="en">Total Worker Health</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/labor-rights" hreflang="en">labor rights</a></div> </div> </div> <section> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1874390" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1509183175"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>This is an excellent idea for a session. There was some research presented this week at the #USE2017 conference sponsored by NIOSH, ASSE and ERCs, concerning mental health stressors in the workplace (including sexual harassment), and that could be included. #MeToo</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1874390&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="Q5TWmxPnERy0Txdgvi9cIVO7oO92qd8CfsrC2yxciN4"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" content="Adele L. Abrams, Esq. CMSP">Adele L. Abram… (not verified)</span> on 28 Oct 2017 <a href="https://scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/13092/feed#comment-1874390">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1874391" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1509183367"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>One further suggestion for a panel: include reps from ASSE’s Women in Safety Engineering (WISE) group and also the National Safety Council’s Women’s Caucus.</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1874391&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="NpPvkOEPOlTT6jt-E1VkinSHQ7hjPivEtmnLGOIpB2g"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" content="Adele L. Abrams, Esq. CMSP">Adele L. Abram… (not verified)</span> on 28 Oct 2017 <a href="https://scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/13092/feed#comment-1874391">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> </section> <ul class="links inline list-inline"><li class="comment-forbidden"><a href="/user/login?destination=/thepumphandle/2017/10/25/metoo-health-consequences-of-harassment-at-work%23comment-form">Log in</a> to post comments</li></ul> Wed, 25 Oct 2017 09:21:22 +0000 cmonforton 62944 at https://scienceblogs.com Pollution: not “an unavoidable consequence” of development https://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/10/20/pollution-not-an-unavoidable-consequence-of-development <span>Pollution: not “an unavoidable consequence” of development</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>The headlines are grabbing people's attention:</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">CBC News: <strong>"<a href="http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/pollution-worldwide-deaths-1.4363613">Pollution causing more deaths worldwide than war or smoking</a>"</strong>; CNN: "<strong><a href="http://www.cnn.com/2017/10/19/health/pollution-1-in-6-deaths-study/index.html">Pollution linked to 9 million deaths worldwide in 2015, study says</a></strong>"; BBC: "<strong><a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/health-41678533">Pollution linked to one in six deaths</a></strong>";  Associated Press: "<strong><a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/science/ct-deadly-pollution-study-20171019-story.html">Pollution killing more people every year than wars, disaster and hunger, study says</a></strong>";  The Independent: "<strong><a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/pollution-air-clean-water-vehicles-diesel-car-tax-lancet-report-deaths-fatal-disease-a8009751.html">Pollution is killing millions of people a year and the world is reaching 'crisis point', experts warn</a>.</strong>"</p> <p>News outlets are referring to a report released yesterday by <a href="http://www.thelancet.com/commissions/pollution-and-health">The <em>Lancet</em> Commission on Pollution and Health</a>. The report’s authors---an international team of nearly 50 public health scientists---spent nearly two years synthesizing data on the human health effects and economic costs of toxic substances in the air, soil, and water.</p> <p>Their definition of pollution comes from the European Union:</p> <blockquote><p>"unwanted, often dangerous, material that is introduced into the Earth’s environment as the result of human activity, that threatens human health, and that harms ecosystems."</p></blockquote> <p>The headlines whet my appetite for more of the numbers and the report delivers. For example, the committee's analysis indicates:</p> <ul><li>An estimated 9 million deaths in 2015 can be attributed to air, water, and soil pollution. This compares to an estimated 4 million deaths from obesity, 2.3 million from alcohol, and 1.4 million on roadways.</li> <li>Pollution related deaths are responsible for <strong>three times</strong> as many deaths from AIDs, TB, and malaria combined.</li> <li>Pollution related deaths are responsible for nearly <strong>15 times</strong> as many deaths as those from wars and all forms of violence.</li> </ul><p>The report, however, goes much deeper than calculations and point estimates. Laced throughout the report---explicit and implicit---is a message that governments, foundations, medical societies, and research institutions pay too little attention to the impact of pollution on health. The authors call out political actors, international development and health organizations for ignoring pollution in their agendas. The authors write:</p> <blockquote><p>“Although more than 70% of the diseases caused by pollution are non-communicable diseases, interventions against pollution are barely mentioned in the [World Health Organization’s] Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases.”</p></blockquote> <p>The identify several factors for the neglect:</p> <blockquote><p>“… A persistent impediment has been the flawed conventional wisdom that pollution and disease are the unavoidable consequences of economic development, the so-called <a href="https://www.economicshelp.org/blog/14337/environment/environmental-kuznets-curve/">‘environmental Kuznets hypothesis.’</a> This Commission vigorously challenges that claim as a flawed and obsolete notion formulated decades ago when populations and urban centres were much smaller than they are today, the nature, sources, and health effects of pollution were very different, and cleaner fuels and modern production technologies were not yet available.</p></blockquote> <p>The authors do not shy away from articulating a path forward to address pollution. I agree with their assessment that sustainable long-term solutions will require a fundamental economic shift. We must move away from the "resource-intensive, and inherently wasteful, linear take-make-use-dispose economic paradigm." (It's a mouthful but sums it up well.) We must embrace and adopt a new economic system that the authors describe as one in which:</p> <blockquote><p>"pollution is reduced through the creation of durable, long-lasting products, the reduction of waste by large-scale recycling, reuse, and repair, the removal of distorting subsidies, the replacement of hazardous materials with safer alternatives, and strict enforcement of pollution taxes.  ...[An economy that] conserves and increases resources, rather than taking and depleting them."</p></blockquote> <p><a href="http://www.thelancet.com/commissions/pollution-and-health">The <em>Lancet</em> Commission's report</a> generated some eye catching headlines. I'm glad I took the time to read it. I hope many others do too.</p> </div> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/author/cmonforton" lang="" about="/author/cmonforton" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">cmonforton</a></span> <span>Fri, 10/20/2017 - 09:09</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/cancer" hreflang="en">cancer</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/chemicals-policy" hreflang="en">chemicals policy</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/climate" hreflang="en">Climate</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/environmental-health" hreflang="en">Environmental health</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/occupational-health-safety" hreflang="en">Occupational Health &amp; Safety</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/pesticides" hreflang="en">Pesticides</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/research" hreflang="en">Research</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/toxics" hreflang="en">Toxics</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/water" hreflang="en">water</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/air-pollution" hreflang="en">Air pollution</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/lancet-commission-pollution-and-health" hreflang="en">Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/soil-pollution" hreflang="en">soil pollution</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/water-pollution" hreflang="en">Water pollution</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/cancer" hreflang="en">cancer</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/chemicals-policy" hreflang="en">chemicals policy</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/climate" hreflang="en">Climate</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/environmental-health" hreflang="en">Environmental health</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/pesticides" hreflang="en">Pesticides</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/research" hreflang="en">Research</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/toxics" hreflang="en">Toxics</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/water" hreflang="en">water</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-categories field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Categories</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/channel/environment" hreflang="en">Environment</a></div> </div> </div> <section> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1874387" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1508557614"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>10/19/2017<br /> With widely announced reports of casualties from world pollution being so exceedingly great; the worth of clean air, water and contaminant free soils and foods becomes further emphasized and the need underscored. This also infers that ground water, being tained by chemically laden ashes from homes and towns that have burned to the ground; homes Containing plastics, household chemicals, electronics casings. industrial solvents etc. that yet need be better prevented from contaminating; and doing so by wise planning and construction and forestry management. Further actual value can be derived from societal pursuits that do not increase or require daily polluting commuting, breathing lingering wildfire smoke, and the equally dangerous fumes from detonated weaponry being used worldwide by peoples not realizing the after effects of lingering barbarism and refusal to rather nurture mutual regard also for the planet's life sustaining land foliage -plants, trees-and other wildlife, long preceding human presence onthe planet.</p> <p>Further value can be derived from not only abandoning the long adversely ramifying death dealing sado-masochistic world 'cults of mayhem, injury,decimation and death' but rather seeking and actually both pursuing and accepting whatever actually leads toward greater global safety and stabiity; and especially when such more optimal outcomes can and do present evidences of sure achievement and attainment, however unprecedented. </p> <p>Among such novel occurrences are those widely seen successful demonstrations during the past three decades; of difficult to access wildfires being more quickly suppressed without chemicals and costly air flights, in over two countries and three states. The modes the advanced collaborative modes introduced, saved benefitting states and countries billions in firefighting, restoration &amp; medical expenditures, yet were largely disparaged and likely deemed coincidental. This too underscores how humankind -even when shown better provenances to pursue, are prone to disregard and devalue the implications;, preferring the more risky costly familiar pursuits.</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1874387&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="l5MhaGB8qad-0snWPlGDWLwW5WPM5ZREy_z95S_VlcE"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Alby (not verified)</span> on 20 Oct 2017 <a href="https://scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/13092/feed#comment-1874387">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1874388" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1508623925"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>During the early AM hours of 10/21/2017 while dreaming; twice during the same dream sequence, I saw a volcano -seemingly nearby and somewhat blue and yellow in color-. when actually enabled to I look at it for a sustained period. During that second time;he second time -the first time it was more fleeting- I saw dark clouds moving slowly and , spreading overhead too. Whenever ever in the past when a dream is suddenly interrupted twice like that -and wit brilliant colors-, I've learned it's more than a dream and deserves attention of others. In fact I heard other voices also shouting in alarming tones when the volcanoes were seen..</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1874388&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="HrpnruB9HoinCrIFHm4NGNpXqPBviIAJQXoEha0fZqk"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Alby (not verified)</span> on 21 Oct 2017 <a href="https://scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/13092/feed#comment-1874388">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1874389" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1508625594"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>It's very possible we all need be readied for more than just reckless human induced consequences, as heat from growing radioactive 'waste' is also adversely impacting the global environs . Long accumulating protective moderating elements have also been dangerously degraded, resulting in residual intensifications. And likely also enabling deeper tropospheric penetration of solar X-rays, high energy UV and cosmic rays..</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1874389&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="qWkPkjN1x5jamj-gLGkJOGmNFS6FpItqtL-BeoGFlK0"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Alby (not verified)</span> on 21 Oct 2017 <a href="https://scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/13092/feed#comment-1874389">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> </section> <ul class="links inline list-inline"><li class="comment-forbidden"><a href="/user/login?destination=/thepumphandle/2017/10/20/pollution-not-an-unavoidable-consequence-of-development%23comment-form">Log in</a> to post comments</li></ul> Fri, 20 Oct 2017 13:09:52 +0000 cmonforton 62943 at https://scienceblogs.com “A gift to the construction industry”: catchy quotes from Court of Appeals argument on OSHA’s silica standard https://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/10/14/a-gift-to-the-construction-industry-catchy-quotes-from-court-of-appeals-argument-on-oshas-silica-standard <span>“A gift to the construction industry”: catchy quotes from Court of Appeals argument on OSHA’s silica standard</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>OSHA <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2016/03/24/sorry-it-took-so-long-osha-issues-rule-to-protect-workers-exposed-to-silica-dust/">took the long road</a> to adopt a standard to address respirable crystalline silica. Although the final rule was issued in March 2016, it is being challenged by both industry and labor groups. The first says OSHA went too far, the other says OSHA didn’t go far enough.</p> <p>The long road, however may be coming close to end. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit heard oral arguments last week from parties that are challenging the rule. Judges Merrick Garland, David Tatel and Karen LeCraft Henderson spent more than two hours listening to arguments from the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association (NSSGA), the Brick Industry Association (BIA), the U.S Chamber of Commerce, the North America Building Trades, the United Steelworkers and others.  Attorneys with the Department of Labor’s Office of the Solicitor were there, too, to defend the OSHA rule.</p> <p>I enjoyed listening (and relistening) to the <a href="https://www.cadc.uscourts.gov/recordings/recordings2018.nsf/FBB1D597702702BE852581A70057DDFE/$file/16-1105.mp3">court’s audio</a> of the oral argument. What made it particularly enjoyable was listening to the judges---they did their homework!</p> <p>Judges Garland and Tatel, in particular, probed, cajoled, and challenged the attorneys to clarify their arguments. The judges pressed the attorneys on issues concerning economic feasibility, health risks, and the legal standard for substantial evidence. There were plenty of references to prior litigation on OSHA health standards. They mentioned significant previous court decision on OSHA standards, such as for asbestos, lead and formaldehyde.  I felt a bit like an outsider, listening to the attorneys speak about those rulings. They described them as if they were old friends who remain relevant today. And like relationships with old friends, we don't always agree about what she said or remember events in the same way.</p> <p>There were times during the oral arguments that the presenting attorney rose to a judge’s challenge for a cogent response. But I cringe a few times when I heard nervous laughter from an industry attorney who knew he was stumped by the judge’s question.</p> <p>Below are just some of my favorite quotes and exchanges. The text doesn't capture the animation I heard in the audio from the courtroom or the commitment of the attorneys to their arguments. I've included a time stamp at each quote so you can listen for yourself. (I had difficulty distinguishing Judge Garland’s from Judge Tatel’s voice. If I incorrectly attribute the quotes, please leave a comment and I’ll correct it.)</p> <p>NSSGA and BIA argue that OSHA overstates the risk of health harm caused by exposure to respirable crystalline silica. Their attorney, William L. Wehrum, said:</p> <blockquote><p>“We assert that OSHA had a thumb on the scale. We believe the record makes clear that OSHA came to this rulemaking with a determined goal of reducing the level of the standard. We believe it clouded OSHA’s judgement and caused it to lose objectivity, which we believe permeates the entire proceeding." [00:02:36]</p></blockquote> <p>Judge Tatel chimed in:</p> <blockquote><p>"You say that OSHA had its thumb on the scale, which is a curious statement given our standard of review. The question is: is there significant evidence in the record to support OSHA’s position for what it did? <em>You</em> can certainly point to contrary evidence, but OSHA has explained <em>all</em> that. ...You have to make your argument in terms of our specific standard of review, which is the substantial evidence question. Our case law is very specific about that."</p></blockquote> <p>Sounding like a law professor Tatel added:</p> <blockquote><p>"What’s your <em>best</em> argument regarding the substantial evidence test?" [00:04:19]</p></blockquote> <p>Wehrum had difficulty providing a short and sweet and precise answer.</p> <p>Judge Garland addressed the problem for the court of dueling scientists. William Wehrum tried to describe the evidence from his side's experts, but Garland interrupted:</p> <blockquote><p>"We have scientists on both sides and the law here is quite clear. When there are scientists on both sides, OSHA is permitted to take the ones that are most likely to protect worker safety. There is <em>supposed</em> to be a thumb on the scale in terms of safety. ...That's what our own case says. It is perfectly appropriate for OSHA to weight in favor of worker safety. That's right, isn't it. [00:09:56]</p></blockquote> <p>William Wehrum: "Correct your honor to a point, but that dosen't insulate OSHA from review.</p> <p>Soundly a bit frustrated, Garland said:</p> <blockquote><p>"That's what we doing here, but it is not enough to say there is a plausible mechanism. You have to be able to show that OSHA's studies are not <em>themselves</em> substantial evidence."</p></blockquote> <p>The attorney representing the U.S. Chamber of Commerce was also schooled by Judge Garland. This time it was a math problem.</p> <p>Attorney Michael Connolly argued that there are so few deaths today is the U.S. from silicosis that OSHA has not met its burden of demonstrating that exposure to respirable silica poses a significant risk of harm to workers. Connolly pointed to the low number of silicosis deaths reported on death certificates and compared to the millions of workers in silica-related industries.</p> <p>Judge Garland asked [00:18:50]:</p> <blockquote><p>"Is that the right <em>division</em>? Dividing the total number of deaths that are reported on the death certificates by the total number of workers in <em>industry</em>? Or is the right number the total number of deaths at a certain level of exposure? That is, in terms of the 1 in 1,000 test.</p></blockquote> <p>(The "1 in 1,000" comes from a <a href="https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=preambles&amp;p_id=748">1980 Supreme Court ruling</a> about OSHA's benzene standard. The Supreme Court justices did not offer a specific ratio but indicated that the threshold likely fell somewhere between 1 death per 1 billion (which would not be considered significant) to 1 death per 1,000 (which would be significant.))</p> <p>Judge Garland continued:</p> <blockquote><p>"It's not supposed to be just 1 over the entire population of the United States, or 1 over everybody who works. It’s supposed to be 1 over 1,000 people who work at a certain exposure level, isn’t that right?"</p></blockquote> <p>Michael Connolly: "Sure. That’s correct."</p> <p>Judge Garland:</p> <blockquote><p>"Isn't it exposed to silica <em>at a certain exposure levels</em> that matters? Not all people who may have been exposed to silica? [20:03]</p></blockquote> <p>Score one for the judge.</p> <p>I wish I'd been in the courtroom for that exchange. I would have turned my head to see if Judge Garland's remark brought a smile to the attorneys who were defending OSHA's rule.</p> <p>Labor Department attorney Kristen Lindberg was charged with responding to some of the arguments raised by the industry petitioners. Among her excellent synopsis was this:</p> <blockquote><p>[00:35:00] "It's worthwhile to step back a little bit and review the support OSHA had in the record for its findings. Their risk assessment findings were supported by nearly all of the occupational health and medical organizations that commented on the rule, including NIOSH, the American Cancer Society, the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, the American Thoracic Society, the Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics, and the American Public Health Association."</p> <p>"... Industry petitioners want you to reject conclusions that have overwhelming support among scientists and that were supported by the independent peer reviewers who scrutinized OSHA’s risk assessment. They want you to reject this extensive body of scientific evidence on the flimsy basis that there are flaws in some of the studies that OSHA relied upon and that there is uncertainty in epidemiology. They want you to impose a legal burden on OSHA that the agency could never meet."</p> <p>[00:36:53] "The broad support for OSHA’s conclusions within the scientific community should increase the court’s confidence that OSHA’s analysis is sound. The courts understand that OSHA, in marshalling scientific evidence to support a risk assessment, cannot ever reach perfection because the science those risk assessments are based on is not perfect. There <em>will be</em> flaws in studies, there <em>will be</em> stronger and weaker studies, there may be some uncertainty, but what OSHA has done here, its extensive analysis based on a huge body of evidence conforms fully with the OSH Act and with the requirements of courts that have interpreted the OSH Act."</p></blockquote> <p>Bradford Hammock argued the case on behalf of the National Association of Home Builders and other industry groups. He tried to convince the judges that OSHA's requirements for the construction industry are not technological feasible.</p> <p>Victoria Bor, the counsel for North America’s Building Trades Unions dismissed Mr. Hammock's assertions. Her argument began with the following [00:67:40]</p> <blockquote><p>"By way of context, Table 1, which is the centerpiece of the construction standard, is a <em>gift to the construction industry</em>. Most OSHA standards set a permissible exposure limit and require employers to monitor their workplaces and devise their own strategies following the hierarchy of controls to bring exposures below the permissible exposure limit (PEL). The silica standard gives employers options. They can follow the traditional approach or they can follow Table 1, which is in effect is a manual that lists 19 of the 23 construction tasks that most commonly generate significant silica exposure, and specifies control strategies for each. Employers who fully and properly implement the controls listed on Table 1 are freed from monitoring their workplace and have a safe harbor for complying with the PEL.</p> <p>"...OSHA assumes that most employers will follow table, which is a completely reason assumption because it tells employers exactly what they have to do, frees them from monitoring, and gives them a safe harbor for complying with the PEL."</p> <p>"Now rather than accepting this gift, as Mr. Hammock already explained to you, the industry petitioners point to Table 1 and argue that to the extent it requires the use of respirators....OSHA is conceding that the standard isn't feasible. ...The petitioners’ argument completely ignores that Table 1 does not require employers to comply with the PEL. What it requires is for employers to implement the listed controls. So whether the PEL can be reached without the use of respirators---the question that the industry petitioners focus on--- is actually completely irrelevant."</p></blockquote> <p>Victoria Bor continued:</p> <blockquote><p>"What is relevant, as Ms. Goodman [of the Labor Department] said, is that the typical employer can comply with Table 1 most of the time. On this question, the petitioners argument on feasibility rests on vague assertions that in <em>certain</em> circumstances,<em> certain</em> employers may not be able to use <em>certain</em> of the wet methods listed in Table 1 at <em>some</em> time. …Petitioners point to <em>no</em> evidence that undermines OSHA’s conclusions that most employers will be able to comply with Table 1 by utilizing those controls most of the time."</p></blockquote> <p>There was dead silence after her rebuttal. None of the judges asked Victoria Bor to clarify or further defend her arguments. They seemed convinced.</p> <p>The excerpts above are just some of memorable moments from the oral argument. Another was a lengthy argument by the unions and rebuttal by the Labor Department about OSHA's provisions for medical surveillance and medical removal protections. It was the one time that the Labor Department's case seemed on shaky ground.</p> <p>If you  <a href="https://www.cadc.uscourts.gov/recordings/recordings2018.nsf/FBB1D597702702BE852581A70057DDFE/$file/16-1105.mp3">listen to the audio</a> for yourself you'll hear the word "grapple" used numerous times by attorneys for the unions. You'll hear the Labor Department attorneys repeat the phrase"de minimis benefit." You'll hear one judge say to an industry attorney "it's not your principle argument, it's your <em>only</em> argument" and another judge mention "a shopping list." You'll hear all the parties claim that OSHA's decisions are, or are not, "supported by the record." Finally you'll hear many references to previous Supreme Court and Appeals Court decisions on other OSHA standards.</p> <p>It's been many years since OSHA started down the road toward a comprehensive silica standard. People will disagree on when the agency actually hit the road, but they know that last week's stop at the U.S. Court of Appeals means the road may soon be coming to an end.</p> <p>Judges Garland, Henderson, and Tatel are now at the wheel. They will decide whether OSHA's rule will stand as is, or whether the agency needs to make a U-turn.</p> <p>I relished listening to the oral arguments. I'll be eager to read the judge's opinion when it's issued.</p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p> </p> </div> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/author/cmonforton" lang="" about="/author/cmonforton" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">cmonforton</a></span> <span>Sat, 10/14/2017 - 11:19</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/crystalline-silica" hreflang="en">crystalline silica</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/occupational-health-safety" hreflang="en">Occupational Health &amp; Safety</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/osha" hreflang="en">OSHA</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/regulation" hreflang="en">regulation</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/silica" hreflang="en">silica</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/chamber-commerce" hreflang="en">Chamber of Commerce</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/david-tatel" hreflang="en">David Tatel</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/legal-challenge" hreflang="en">legal challenge</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/merrick-garland" hreflang="en">Merrick Garland</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/us-court-appeals-dc-circuit" hreflang="en">US Court of Appeals DC Circuit</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/regulation" hreflang="en">regulation</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-categories field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Categories</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/channel/medicine" hreflang="en">Medicine</a></div> </div> </div> <section> </section> <ul class="links inline list-inline"><li class="comment-forbidden"><a href="/user/login?destination=/thepumphandle/2017/10/14/a-gift-to-the-construction-industry-catchy-quotes-from-court-of-appeals-argument-on-oshas-silica-standard%23comment-form">Log in</a> to post comments</li></ul> Sat, 14 Oct 2017 15:19:29 +0000 cmonforton 62941 at https://scienceblogs.com Supreme Court lets criminal conviction stand against coal executive Blankenship https://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/10/11/supreme-court-lets-criminal-conviction-stand-against-coal-executive-blankenship <span>Supreme Court lets criminal conviction stand against coal executive Blankenship</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>The U.S. Supreme Court is not interested in hearing former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship's claim that he didn't get a fair trial. On October 10, the court denied Blankenship's petition to review his criminal conviction. (<a href="https://www.supremecourt.gov/orders/courtorders/101017zor_2d83.pdf">here</a> (see page 3))</p> <p>In December 2015 a <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2015/12/04/trial-of-mining-ceo-blankenship-guilty-say-the-jurors/">jury found Blankenship guilty</a> of conspiring to violate mine safety standards. Massey Energy's Upper Big Branch mine was the site of the worst coal mine disaster in 40 years when 29 miners were killed by a massive coal dust explosion. Blankenship micromanaged his coal mines so much so that he demanded production reports every hour.</p> <p>Blankenship's attorneys objected during the initial trial to many of federal district judge Irene Berger's rulings. They appealed Blankenship's case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, but that court affirmed his conviction. That led to Blankenship's last ditch effort to have the U.S. Supreme Court vindicate him. In denying his petition, the jury's decision stands.</p> <p>Blankenship received the maximum penalty allowed under federal mine safety laws. He already served the one year in federal prison (May 2016 to May 2017) and paid a $250,000 fine.</p> <p>The <em>Charleston Gazette-Mail's</em> Ken Ward Jr. <a href="https://www.wvgazettemail.com/news/special_reports/blankenship_trial/us-supreme-court-won-t-hear-don-blankenship-s-appeal/article_01e7acb7-98b4-5b90-894b-125c4376d878.html">provides Blankenship's reaction</a> to the Supreme Court's decision. Blankeship said:</p> <blockquote><p>"Our court system is so tangled up trying to decide whether males can use female public restroom that they have no time to concern themselves with whether American citizens have received a fair trial."</p></blockquote> <p>(The Supreme Court typically has about 70 cases on their docket. This year's includes critically important cases on gerrymandering, Trump's travel ban against Muslims, deference to the decisions of federal agencies, and sexual orientation as a protected class under the EEOC.)</p> <p>At the time of Blankenship's 2015 conviction, U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin, who brought the successful case, <a href="https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdwv/pr/federal-jury-returns-guilty-verdict-blankenship-trial">said</a>:</p> <blockquote><p>“The evidence overwhelmingly showed an enterprise that embraced safety crimes as a business strategy. It was reprehensible, and the jury saw it for what it was. Time and time again the defendant chose to put profits over safety. He got rich and the coal miners who worked for him paid the price.</p></blockquote> <p>Goodwin added:</p> <blockquote><p>"This is the first time that I am aware of that the chief executive officer of a major corporation has been convicted of a workplace safety crime.”</p></blockquote> <p>The Supreme Court's decision this week makes sure that conviction stands.</p> <p> </p> </div> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/author/cmonforton" lang="" about="/author/cmonforton" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">cmonforton</a></span> <span>Wed, 10/11/2017 - 06:38</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/blankenship-trial" hreflang="en">Blankenship Trial</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/mining" hreflang="en">Mining</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/msha" hreflang="en">MSHA</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/occupational-fatalities" hreflang="en">occupational fatalities</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/occupational-health-safety" hreflang="en">Occupational Health &amp; Safety</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/blankenship" hreflang="en">Blankenship</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/don-blankenship" hreflang="en">Don Blankenship</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/mining" hreflang="en">Mining</a></div> </div> </div> <section> </section> <ul class="links inline list-inline"><li class="comment-forbidden"><a href="/user/login?destination=/thepumphandle/2017/10/11/supreme-court-lets-criminal-conviction-stand-against-coal-executive-blankenship%23comment-form">Log in</a> to post comments</li></ul> Wed, 11 Oct 2017 10:38:55 +0000 cmonforton 62940 at https://scienceblogs.com Occupational Health News Roundup https://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/10/10/occupational-health-news-roundup-256 <span>Occupational Health News Roundup</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>At <a href="https://www.revealnews.org/article/they-thought-they-were-going-to-rehab-they-ended-up-in-chicken-plants/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Reveal</a>, Amy Julia Harris and Shoshana Walter investigate an increasing criminal justice trend in which defendants are sent to rehab, instead of prison. On its face, the idea is a good one, especially for people struggling with addiction. However, the reporters find that many so-called rehab centers are little more than labor camps funneling unpaid workers into private industry.</p> <p>The story focused on one particular center, Christian Alcoholics &amp; Addicts in Recovery (CAAIR) in Oklahoma. Started by chicken company executives, CAAIR’s court-ordered residents work full-time at Simmons Foods Inc., a billion-dollar company that processes poultry for businesses like Walmart, KFC and PetSmart. CAAIR residents don’t get paid and aren’t covered by workers’ compensation; if they get injured on the job, they can be kicked out of CAAIR or sent back to prison. Harris and Walter write:</p> <blockquote><p>About 280 men are sent to CAAIR each year by courts throughout Oklahoma, as well as Arkansas, Texas and Missouri. Instead of paychecks, the men get bunk beds, meals and Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous meetings. If there’s time between work shifts, they can meet with a counselor or attend classes on anger management and parenting. Weekly Bible study is mandatory. For the first four months, so is church. Most days revolve around the work.</p> <p>“Money is an obstacle for so many of these men,” said Janet Wilkerson, CAAIR’s founder and CEO. “We’re not going to charge them to come here, but they’re going to have to work. That’s a part of recovery, getting up like you and I do every day and going to a job.”</p> <p>The program has become an invaluable labor source. Over the years, Simmons Foods repeatedly has laid off paid employees while expanding its use of CAAIR. Simmons now is so reliant on the program for some shifts that the plants likely would shut down if the men didn’t show up, according to former staff members and plant supervisors.</p> <p>But Donny Epp, a spokesman for Simmons Foods, said the company does not depend on CAAIR to fill a labor shortage.</p> <p>“It’s about building relationships with our community and supporting the opportunity to help people become productive citizens,” he said.</p> <p>The arrangement also has paid off for CAAIR. In seven years, the program brought in more than $11 million in revenue, according to tax filings.</p> <p>“They came up with a hell of an idea,” said Parker Grindstaff, who graduated earlier this year. “They’re making a killing off of us.”</p></blockquote> <p>Read the full story at <a href="https://www.revealnews.org/article/they-thought-they-were-going-to-rehab-they-ended-up-in-chicken-plants/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Reveal</a>.</p> <p>In other news:</p> <p><a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2017/10/04/555594403/ben-jerrys-signs-deal-to-improve-migrant-dairy-workers-conditions?utm_source=npr_newsletter&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_content=20171004&amp;utm_campaign=npr_email_a_friend&amp;utm_term=storyshare" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">NPR</a>: Kathleen Masterson reports that Ben &amp; Jerry’s has a signed a deal to help improve working conditions on Vermont dairy farms that supply milk to the ice cream company. Representatives from Ben &amp; Jerry’s and Migrant Justice, a farmworker advocacy group, signed the agreement, which commits the company to paying higher prices to dairy farms that join the Milk with Dignity program. The ultimate goal is to source all of the company’s milk through the program, which ensures workers get adequate breaks, time off, paid sick days, safe job conditions and fair housing. Masterson quoted Enrique Balcazar of Migrant Justice: "This is the first expansion that we've seen from the model of worker-driven social responsibly that was pioneered by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in the Florida tomato fields. It is a great victory and an honor for us dairy workers to expand that model to the dairy industry of Vermont."</p> <p><a href="http://www.newsweek.com/who-has-health-insurance-trumps-labor-department-says-unions-get-americans-681109" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Newsweek</em></a>: Christianna Silva reports that “Trump’s anti-union Labor Department” has just released a study showing that nearly every union member — 94 percent — has access to employer-provided health coverage. On the flip side, 67 percent of nonunion workers <strong>don’t</strong> have access to employer-provided health care. The research, from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, found that among workers who have access to employer-provided care, more union workers take advantage of the option. Access the full statistics <a href="https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2017/94-percent-of-union-workers-had-access-to-medical-care-benefits-in-march-2017.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">here</a>.</p> <p><a href="http://www.masslive.com/politics/index.ssf/2017/10/massachusetts_senate_would_ext.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">MassLive</a>: Shira Schoenberg reports that members of the Massachusetts Senate passed a bill to extend OSHA protections to all public-sector workers. In 2014, state lawmakers expanded OSHA protections to cover all executive branch workers, but the protections didn’t cover those working for cities, towns and higher education. The new bill, which still has to get through the state House, would also establish a new Municipal Occupational Health and Safety Subcommittee. The Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents reports that each week, about 28 municipal workers suffer injuries that keep them out of work for five days. Schoenberg quoted Massachusetts AFL-CIO President Steven Tolman: "When Massachusetts workers arrive on the job each day, their health and safety protections shouldn't vary depending on whether they work in the public sector or private sector.”</p> <p><a href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/10/05/jeff-sessions-transgender-people-not-protected-workplace-discrimination/735709001/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>USA Today</em></a>: Kevin Johnson reports on the directive from Attorney General Jeff Sessions saying federal civil rights law does not protect transgender people from discrimination at work. Not surprisingly, the directive rolls back Obama-era protections that stated the “most straightforward reading” of the law also protected transgender workers. Johnson quoted James Esseks, director of the ACLU’s LGBT &amp; HIV Project, who said: "Today marks another low point for a Department of Justice which has been cruelly consistent in its hostility towards the LGBT community and in particular, its inability to treat transgender people with basic dignity and respect.”</p> <p><em>Kim Krisberg is a freelance public health writer living in Austin, Texas, and has been writing about public health for 15 years. Follow me on Twitter — <a href="http://www.twitter.com/kkrisberg" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@kkrisberg</a>.</em></p> </div> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/author/kkrisberg" lang="" about="/author/kkrisberg" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">kkrisberg</a></span> <span>Tue, 10/10/2017 - 16:15</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/agriculture" hreflang="en">agriculture</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/farm-workers" hreflang="en">farm workers</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/government" hreflang="en">government</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/healthcare" hreflang="en">healthcare</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/labor-rights" hreflang="en">labor rights</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/legal" hreflang="en">Legal</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/low-wage-work" hreflang="en">low-wage work</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/occup-health-news-roundup" hreflang="en">Occup Health News Roundup</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/occupational-health-safety" hreflang="en">Occupational Health &amp; Safety</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/osha" hreflang="en">OSHA</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/poultry-plants" hreflang="en">poultry plants</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/public-health-general" hreflang="en">Public Health - General</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/safety" hreflang="en">safety</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/trump-administration" hreflang="en">Trump administration</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/dairy-farm-workers" hreflang="en">dairy farm workers</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/diversion-courts" hreflang="en">diversion courts</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/health-insurance" hreflang="en">health insurance</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/labor-camps" hreflang="en">labor camps</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/labor-union" hreflang="en">labor union</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/low-wage-workers" hreflang="en">low-wage workers</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/occupational-health" hreflang="en">Occupational health</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/occupational-safety" hreflang="en">occupational safety</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/poultry-processing" hreflang="en">Poultry Processing</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/poultry-workers" hreflang="en">poultry workers</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/public-health" hreflang="en">public health</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/public-sector-workers" hreflang="en">public sector workers</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/transgender-discrimination" hreflang="en">transgender discrimination</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/wage-theft" hreflang="en">wage theft</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/worker-safety" hreflang="en">worker safety</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/workplace-discrimination" hreflang="en">workplace discrimination</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/agriculture" hreflang="en">agriculture</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/healthcare" hreflang="en">healthcare</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/labor-rights" hreflang="en">labor rights</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/low-wage-work" hreflang="en">low-wage work</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/poultry-plants" hreflang="en">poultry plants</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/safety" hreflang="en">safety</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/trump-administration" hreflang="en">Trump administration</a></div> </div> </div> <section> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1874386" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1509441193"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Quick note of thanks to you Kim, for your writing on OH+S stuff , here at Scienceblogs, which looks like finishing up maybe.<br /> As an employee in a tropical region, i found several of your posts very illuminating and relevant on a couple of niche issues.</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1874386&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="rMo6NT2Fd7GSmh2SMcrKq6Rqc-l6T3s3PdeZto8591c"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Li D (not verified)</span> on 31 Oct 2017 <a href="https://scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/13092/feed#comment-1874386">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> </section> <ul class="links inline list-inline"><li class="comment-forbidden"><a href="/user/login?destination=/thepumphandle/2017/10/10/occupational-health-news-roundup-256%23comment-form">Log in</a> to post comments</li></ul> Tue, 10 Oct 2017 20:15:39 +0000 kkrisberg 62939 at https://scienceblogs.com Trump’s mine safety nominee defends MSHA inspectors, calls silicosis “unacceptable” https://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/10/04/trumps-mine-safety-nominee-defends-msha-inspectors-calls-silicosis-unacceptable <span>Trump’s mine safety nominee defends MSHA inspectors, calls silicosis “unacceptable”</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>President Trump’s nominee to head the Labor Department’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) appeared today before a Senate committee for a confirmation hearing. David Zatezalo answered questions about the epidemic of black lung cases, an increase in mine worker fatalities, the need for safety assistance for small mine operators, and more. Zatezalo began his career in 1974 as a UMWA coal miner and most recently served as chairman of <a href="http://www.rhinolp.com/about_us.html">Rhino Resources</a>.</p> <p>I watched the webcast of Zatezalo's confirmation hearing. The nominee noted his experience managing 39 different coal mines in the U.S. and Australia. I suspect he has more years of experience managing coal mines than any previous MSHA chief.</p> <p>Here are some of the exchanges between Senators and the nominee:</p> <p><strong>On Don Blankenship:</strong></p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><em>Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA):</em> "The CEO of Massey Energy, Don Blankenship, who served a one year sentence for conspiracy to violate mine safety laws has asked President Trump and MSHA to reopen the investigation into the Upper Big Branch incident, in which 29 miners were killed. Would you honor that request should you be confirmed?"</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><em>Mr. Zatezalo:</em> "Senator, absent any new evidence I don't see any reason why it should be reopened."</p> <p>Zatezalo gets <strong>two thumbs up</strong> for his response.</p> <p><strong>On the very poor safety record at one of his mines:</strong></p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><em>Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA):</em> "When you were CEO of Rhino Resources the Eagle #1 mine was put on [MSHA's] proposed pattern of violation notice in November 2010 and then again August 2011. A pattern of violation notice is issued when safety violations are extensive and enforcement action is not immediately addressing the problems. Do you think those sanctions...were fair and appropriate?"</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><em>Mr. Zatezalo:</em> "I was not proud of the fact that we got designated as a PPOV mine. I did not try to lawyer up and stop anything from happening. You know, if you haven't done your job, we should be big kids and deal with it as such."</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><em>Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA):</em> "Do you think you would have any challenge working with the senior career staff at MSHA given that some of them were involved in taking enforcement action against your company?"</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><em>Mr. Zatezalo:</em> "No sir, I don't. They [MSHA] did what they were supposed to do."</p> <p>Another <strong>thumbs up</strong> for Zatezalo. I liked hearing him support MSHA officials for doing their job---a job that requires putting miners' safety above all else.</p> <p><strong>On the number of MSHA inspectors</strong></p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><em>Senator Bob Casey (D-PA): "</em>Do you have any sense of the adequacy of the number of inspectors at MSHA."</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><em>Mr. Zatezalo: "</em>It seems to me that the number of inspectors today is pretty good. From the data that I see, MSHA has been making  all of the required inspections, which is four per year [in underground mines.] We certainly don't want to let that fall down. Just as I wouldn't want to drive on the highways without police or constables to take control of speeders and drunk drivers, inspections in mines in U.S. are a necessity. Inspections have to continue and I don't think they should continue at a diminished rate either."</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><em>Senator Bob Casey (D-PA):</em> "I hope Mr. Zatezalo that if you were to be confirmed and you did not see the level of inspectors that you would expect, you would advocate for more funding, and more support, and make that clear to Congress."</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><em>Mr. Zatezalo: </em>Absolutely would sir.</p> <p>Zatezalo was emphatic when he said "absolutely" and I give him a <strong>thumbs up</strong>. I take him at his word that he will stand up to Secretary Acosta's and the White House's bean counters. Otherwise, it will be on his shoulders if MSHA fails to fulfill its statutory responsibility to conduct the required mandatory inspections at every U.S. mining operation.</p> <p><strong>On black lung and silicosis: </strong></p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><em>Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA):</em> "In southwest Virginia, there has been an epidemic of progressive massive fibrosis---that's the most severe form of black lung disease. ...The largest cluster of this disease ever documented is found in southwest Virginia and more are being uncovered every week in a clinic in St. Charles, Virginia.</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">"..It's been reported to me that some of this severe lung damage is caused by mining rock mixed with thinner coal seams causing miners to then inhale crystalline silica, which is far more toxic than coal dust. ... It's been reported to me, that you said the technology to monitor silica dust in real time does not exist. Talk to me a little bit about that. Is there the possibility, technological possibility of getting to the point were we can more effectively monitor? Can you elaborate on that?"</p> <p>Zatezalo politely answered the Senator's question about the limitations of the current dust monitoring system. Specifically that it may take a couple of weeks before sampling results are analyzed at a laboratory and reported back to the mine. But, Zatezalo gets a <strong>special thumbs up</strong> for redirecting his answer to controlling silica dust as the first line of defense. The solution to the national disgrace of miners with silica-related disease is not better sampling---it's controlling miners' exposure to respirable dust.</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><em>Mr. Zatezalo:</em> ...I understand the National Academy of Sciences, as well as NIOSH and MSHA, are putting together a report that should be available in January to delineate and hopefully offer suggestions on how to address this. Silicosis is not an acceptable thing for our [miners.]</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">"...Coal dust is something at this point that we think we can handle fairly well. Silica is much more difficult to handle. I figure we're going to have to go some engineering type controls, and really increase ventilation, and really increase water to be able to control it."</p> <p>Like Senator Kaine, Senator Casey also had questions about coal miners being diagnosed with black lung and silicosis. He referred to the regulations adopted by MSHA in 2014 to address coal mine dust.</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><em>Senator Bob Casey (D-PA):</em> "Tell me about how you would approach enforcement of [the rules adopted by the Obama administration on coal mine dust.]"</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;"><em>Mr. Zatezalo: </em>Sir, that enforcement is ongoing today... and would have to continue. I would not propose any reduction in the enforcement of [those rules.] ...I would not see that diminish  in any way. The only things that remains, that needs to be investigated further is silicosis and the silica issues.</p> <p>I <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/09/29/wv-senator-says-thanks-but-no-thanks-to-trumps-nominee-for-mine-safety-agency/">wrote last week</a> about West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin's announcement that he would not support Zatezalo's confirmation. Prior to that Senators Murray (D-WA), Casey (D-PA) and Whitehouse (D-RI) <a href="https://www.whitehouse.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/2017-09-22_Ltr_to_DOL_on_Zatezalo.pdf">sent a letter</a> to the Labor Department asking questions about the nominee's previous dealings with MSHA. None of those Senators, however, raised those concerns at today's hearing.</p> <p>It will be a few weeks before we find out whether David Zatezalo gets a thumbs up from a majority of Senators.</p> <p> </p> </div> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/author/cmonforton" lang="" about="/author/cmonforton" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">cmonforton</a></span> <span>Wed, 10/04/2017 - 15:53</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/black-lung" hreflang="en">black lung</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/crystalline-silica" hreflang="en">crystalline silica</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/mining" hreflang="en">Mining</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/msha" hreflang="en">MSHA</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/occupational-fatalities" hreflang="en">occupational fatalities</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/occupational-health-safety" hreflang="en">Occupational Health &amp; Safety</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/safety" hreflang="en">safety</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/silica" hreflang="en">silica</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/david-zatezalo" hreflang="en">David Zatezalo</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/don-blankenship" hreflang="en">Don Blankenship</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/rhino-resources" hreflang="en">Rhino Resources</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/black-lung" hreflang="en">black lung</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/mining" hreflang="en">Mining</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/safety" hreflang="en">safety</a></div> </div> </div> <section> </section> <ul class="links inline list-inline"><li class="comment-forbidden"><a href="/user/login?destination=/thepumphandle/2017/10/04/trumps-mine-safety-nominee-defends-msha-inspectors-calls-silicosis-unacceptable%23comment-form">Log in</a> to post comments</li></ul> Wed, 04 Oct 2017 19:53:22 +0000 cmonforton 62937 at https://scienceblogs.com WV Senator says "thanks, but no thanks" to Trump’s nominee for mine safety agency https://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/09/29/wv-senator-says-thanks-but-no-thanks-to-trumps-nominee-for-mine-safety-agency <span>WV Senator says &quot;thanks, but no thanks&quot; to Trump’s nominee for mine safety agency</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>West Virginia’s senior U.S. senator will not be supporting President Trump’s nominee to head the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) <a href="https://www.manchin.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/manchin-statement-on-msha-nominee-zatezalo-">issued a statement</a> on Wednesday which said:</p> <blockquote><p>“While I appreciate Mr. Zatezalo’s willingness to serve, I cannot support his confirmation to lead MSHA. After reviewing his qualifications and record of safety during his time in the coal industry, I am not convinced that Mr. Zatezalo is suited to oversee the federal agency that implements and enforces mine safety laws and standards.”</p></blockquote> <p>Ken Ward at the <em>Charleston (WV) Gazette</em> <a href="https://www.wvgazettemail.com/news/trump-nominates-former-coal-exec-to-run-msha/article_40c71218-785f-5cd2-a1db-fc8176fde6b7.html">was first to report</a> on David Zatezalo’s nomination. It was <a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/09/02/president-donald-j-trump-announces-intent-nominate-personnel-key">made public</a> on Saturday, September 2 (Labor Day weekend) on the White House website. The announcement indicated that Zatezalo most recently served as chairman of <a href="http://www.rhinolp.com/about_us.html">Rhino Resources</a>. It's a publicly-traded coal mining and oil/gas extraction firm with operations in CO, IL, KY, UT, and WV.</p> <p>As he does so well, Ward put the nominee’s background in proper context. In his September 2 story, the <em>Gazette</em> reporter described some of the mine safety happenings while Zatezalo was with Rhino Resources.</p> <ul><li>The company had a “series of run-ins with MSHA” over serious safety violations. In 2010 and 2011, Rhino’s Eagle #1 coal mine in Raleigh County, WV was on track--- not once, but twice---for stepped up enforcement under MSHA’s <strong>“pattern of violations”</strong> authority.</li> <li>In the midst of MSHA warnings over a "pattern of violations" at the Eagle #1 mine, <a href="https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&amp;GRid=72182579">Joseph Cassell, 33</a>, was <a href="https://arlweb.msha.gov/FATALS/2011/FTL11c08.asp">fatally injured</a> while working there.</li> <li>At the firm's CAM Mine #28 in Pike County, KY, MSHA had evidence of a manager giving miners advance notice that an inspector was at the mine (which is illegal under the Mine Act.)  In 2011, MSHA took the matter to court. A federal judge ruled in favor of MSHA and granted an injunction against the mine operator.</li> </ul><p>Those troubling matters and more appeared in a <a href="https://www.whitehouse.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/2017-09-22_Ltr_to_DOL_on_Zatezalo.pdf">letter sent last week </a>to Labor Secretary Alex Acosta from three of Senator Manchin’s colleagues. Senators Patty Murray, Sheldon Whitehouse, and Robert Casey requested letters and other documents from MSHA which may help to characterize Zatezalo’s perspective on worker safety and health. The Senators are members of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pension, which is considering Zatezalo’s nomination for MSHA chief.</p> <p>The lawmakers' inquiry also extends to time periods when the nominee served as vice president for mining operations at AEP (2001 - 2004) and in leadership positions with the Ohio Coal Association (2004 - 2014). The Senators note that the trade group sued MSHA over its <strong>"pattern of violations"</strong> authority. They asked Labor Secretary Acosta to provide the requested documents at least three days before David Zatezalo's confirmation hearing which is scheduled for Tuesday October 3.</p> <p>A "smoking gun" document is hard to come by and I doubt MSHA has one. What Senators do have is their West Virginia colleague's "thanks, but no thanks" rejection of President Trump's nominee to lead MSHA. Senator Manchin was Governor of West Virginia during the 2006 disaster at the Sago mine that killed 12 coal miners and the 2010 coal dust explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine that killed 29 men.</p> <blockquote><p>“I have comforted too many families who have lost loved ones serving our nation in the mines.</p></blockquote> <p>Investigations into those disasters revealed the consequences of lax enforcement and inadequate regulations (<a href="http://www.wju.edu/sago/SagoMineDisasterReport_July2006.pdf">here</a>, <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2401616-mcateer-giip-report-on-upper-big-branch-mine.html">here</a>.) No one, including Manchin, wants that repeated. No doubt that was on the Senator's mind when he <a href="https://www.manchin.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/manchin-statement-on-msha-nominee-zatezalo-">wrote</a>:</p> <blockquote><p>"After reviewing his qualifications and record of safety during his time in the coal industry, I am not convinced that Mr. Zatezalo is suited to oversee the federal agency that implements and enforces mine safety laws and standards.”</p></blockquote> <p>Will Manchin be able to convince any Republican Senators that Trump’s pick is not right for the job?</p> <p>Tuesday's confirmation hearing may provide a hint.</p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p> </p> </div> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/author/cmonforton" lang="" about="/author/cmonforton" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">cmonforton</a></span> <span>Fri, 09/29/2017 - 12:22</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/government" hreflang="en">government</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/mining" hreflang="en">Mining</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/msha" hreflang="en">MSHA</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/occupational-health-safety" hreflang="en">Occupational Health &amp; Safety</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/pres-trump" hreflang="en">Pres Trump</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/david-zatezalo" hreflang="en">David Zatezalo</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/joe-manchin" hreflang="en">Joe Manchin</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/ken-ward" hreflang="en">Ken Ward</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/mining" hreflang="en">Mining</a></div> </div> </div> <section> </section> <ul class="links inline list-inline"><li class="comment-forbidden"><a href="/user/login?destination=/thepumphandle/2017/09/29/wv-senator-says-thanks-but-no-thanks-to-trumps-nominee-for-mine-safety-agency%23comment-form">Log in</a> to post comments</li></ul> Fri, 29 Sep 2017 16:22:06 +0000 cmonforton 62935 at https://scienceblogs.com Occupational Health News Roundup https://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/09/27/occupational-health-news-roundup-255 <span>Occupational Health News Roundup</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>At the <a href="http://projects.thestar.com/temp-employment-agencies/index.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Toronto Star</em></a>, reporter Sara Mojtehedzadeh went undercover as a temp worker at Fiera Foods, an industrial bakery, to investigate why temp workers are more likely to get hurt on the job. Earlier this year, Canadian occupational health and safety officials brought charges against the company, whose clients include Dunkin’ Donuts, Costco and Walmart, for the death of 23-year-old Amina Diaby, who was strangled to death after her hijab got caught in a machine.</p> <p>Mojtehedzadeh, along with Brendan Kennedy, write:</p> <blockquote><p>I get about five minutes of training in a factory packed with industrial equipment.</p> <p>I am paid in cash with no deductions or pay stubs. I pick up my wages from a payday lender, a 35-minute bus ride from the factory.</p> <p>Fiera has been slapped with 191 orders for health and safety violations over the past two decades, for everything from lack of proper guarding on machines to unsafely stored gas cylinders.</p> <p>At least a dozen of the women I meet on my assembly line at Fiera, a multimillion-dollar company, are hired through temp agencies.</p> <p>Temp agency workers are changing the face of labour in Ontario.</p> <p>In workplaces around the province, the use of temp agencies limits companies’ liability for accidents on the job, reduces their responsibility for employees’ rights, and cuts costs.</p> <p>When I walk into the factory, I see mostly people of colour. Many are new Canadians. Many told me they have taken this job for one reason: to survive.</p></blockquote> <p>The story describes the speed of the production line as “crushing” — Mojtehedzadeh reports:</p> <blockquote><p>Work that is too slow elicits shouting. Work that is too sloppy elicits more shouting. Our lead hand fires out a salvo of shrill commands to push the tempo.</p> <p>The pinching continues for seven hours and 15 minutes. We receive one half-hour lunch break, as required by law. It is unpaid. We also receive a paid 15-minute break.</p> <p>I feel overwhelming relief when it’s finally my turn for lunch. My shoulders are on fire. I shuffle to the break room and look eagerly at the THINK SAFETY clock. Only three hours have passed. A co-worker watches me collapse onto a bench.</p> <p>“It gets harder,” she calls out.</p></blockquote> <p>Read the full story at the <a href="http://projects.thestar.com/temp-employment-agencies/index.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Toronto Star</em></a>.</p> <p>In other news:</p> <p><a href="http://www.wvgazettemail.com/news-politics/20170927/manchin-will-oppose-trump-mine-safety-nominee" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Charleston Gazette-Mail</em></a>: Ken Ward Jr. reports that Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., will oppose Trump’s nominee to head the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration. Trump has nominated former coal executive David Zatezalo, who served as chairman of Rhino Resources. While Zatezalo was an executive at Rhino, the mining company received more than one letter from MSHA regarding a “pattern of violations”; another Rhino mine was the target of an MSHA lawsuit for undermining inspections. Manchin said in his statement: “I have comforted too many families who have lost loved ones serving our nation in the mines. Strong leadership at the Mine Safety and Health Administration is non-negotiable.”</p> <p><a href="http://tucson.com/news/local/union-workers-confront-arizona-industrial-commission-over-penalty-reductions/article_67c61559-3ede-5617-94d4-43b3b6a65003.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Arizona Daily Star</em></a>: Emily Bregel reports that about 160 members of the Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters showed up at a meeting of the Industrial Commission of Arizona to confront officials about being too lenient with employers who violate health and safety standards. The also confronted the commission for not aggressively going after wage theft allegations and fraud within the construction industry. (An <a href="http://tucson.com/news/local/arizona-commission-improperly-slashes-workplace-safety-penalties-feds-say/article_2e4472d5-d216-52e3-b8d7-6892f06a3603.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">OSHA investigation</a> found the commission arbitrarily reduced penalties for safety violations.) Bregel reported that during the meeting, union President Fabian Sandez said: “In our industry, dishonest businesses commit on a continuing basis acts of wage theft, fraud and willful safety violations, putting the physical safety and financial well-being of our state’s workers at risk. Yet this commission has chosen to side with lawbreakers by reducing fines, watering down violations, rather than taking the appropriate actions demanded by law.”</p> <p><a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2017/09/25/target-to-raise-its-hourly-minimum-wage.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">CNBC</a>: Lauren Thomas reports that Target will be raising its minimum wage from $10 to $11 and is committed to raising it to $15 by 2020. The move comes amid a “quiet wage war” between Target and Walmart, which had previously announced a raise to $10 an hour by 2016. Target said the wage increase will start in October and will apply to the 100,000 temp workers it plans to hire for the holidays. In a <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2017/09/27/targets-15-an-hour-move-busts-minimum-wage-myths-commentary.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">commentary</a>, Peter Sonn, general counsel for the National Employment Law Project, writes that Target’s decision “blows up the claims of corporate lobbyists who argue it's simply not possible for industries like retail and restaurants to pay a $15 minimum wage.” He goes on to write: “Target's plan to raise pay to $15 an hour over the next 30 months is smart business strategy, and what our nation's workforce and economy need. There's now a bullseye on the back of employers like Amazon, Walmart and McDonalds. They should follow Target's lead.”</p> <p><a href="http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/local/Philadelphia-Union-Plans-to-Sue-Big-Pharmaceutical-Over-Opioid-Crisis--448010533.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">NBC Philadelphia</a>: Alicia Victoria Lozano writes that the Philly-area International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union 98 is preparing to file suit against pharmaceutical companies that have contributed to the opioid epidemic. The union has lost eight members in 11 months to the drug. The union recently changed its opioid prescription policy to help prevent addiction, with members using the union’s health provider now limited to five days of opioids for injury or pain. The old policy allowed for unlimited opioid prescribing. Lozano quoted John Dougherty, business manager for the union, who said of fellow workers: “They don't want to miss any work time, so they work through injuries, which compounds the pain and leads to the use and abuse of opioids. I'm sick of seeing our members working themselves into an early grave.”</p> <p><em>Kim Krisberg is a freelance public health writer living in Austin, Texas, and has been writing about public health for 15 years. Follow me on Twitter — <a href="http://www.twitter.com/kkrisberg" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@kkrisberg</a>.</em></p> </div> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/author/kkrisberg" lang="" about="/author/kkrisberg" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">kkrisberg</a></span> <span>Wed, 09/27/2017 - 12:31</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/government" hreflang="en">government</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/labor-rights" hreflang="en">labor rights</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/low-wage-work" hreflang="en">low-wage work</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/mining" hreflang="en">Mining</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/msha" hreflang="en">MSHA</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/occup-health-news-roundup" hreflang="en">Occup Health News Roundup</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/occupational-fatalities" hreflang="en">occupational fatalities</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/occupational-health-safety" hreflang="en">Occupational Health &amp; Safety</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/pres-trump" hreflang="en">Pres Trump</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/public-health-general" hreflang="en">Public Health - General</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/safety" hreflang="en">safety</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/low-wage-workers" hreflang="en">low-wage workers</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/minimum-wage" hreflang="en">Minimum Wage</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/monetary-penalties" hreflang="en">monetary penalties</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/occupational-health" hreflang="en">Occupational health</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/occupational-safety" hreflang="en">occupational safety</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/opioid-abuse" hreflang="en">opioid abuse</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/public-health" hreflang="en">public health</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/temp-staffing-agencies" hreflang="en">temp staffing agencies</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/temp-workers" hreflang="en">temp workers</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/temporary-workers" hreflang="en">temporary workers</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/wage-theft" hreflang="en">wage theft</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/worker-fatality" hreflang="en">worker fatality</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/worker-safety" hreflang="en">worker safety</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/workplace-safety" hreflang="en">Workplace Safety</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/labor-rights" hreflang="en">labor rights</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/low-wage-work" hreflang="en">low-wage work</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/mining" hreflang="en">Mining</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/safety" hreflang="en">safety</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-categories field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Categories</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/channel/policy" hreflang="en">Policy</a></div> </div> </div> <section> </section> <ul class="links inline list-inline"><li class="comment-forbidden"><a href="/user/login?destination=/thepumphandle/2017/09/27/occupational-health-news-roundup-255%23comment-form">Log in</a> to post comments</li></ul> Wed, 27 Sep 2017 16:31:43 +0000 kkrisberg 62934 at https://scienceblogs.com More deregulation by Trump: Ditching mine safety requirements https://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/09/15/more-deregulation-by-trump-ditching-mine-safety-requirements <span>More deregulation by Trump: Ditching mine safety requirements</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>The Trump Administration is <a href="https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2017-09-12/pdf/2017-19381.pdf">proposing to scrap</a> a requirement for mine operators to conduct safety checks before miners begin their work. Identifying hazards and fixing them is key to preventing work-related injuries and deaths.</p> <p>The requirement on Trump's chopping block applies to more than 11,000 mining operations that extract metals and aggregates, such as underground gold and salt mines and rock quarries. Similar requirements for coal mines are not part of the administration’s announcement, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see this proposal lead to similar changes at coal mines.</p> <p>The rule “Examination of Working Places in Metal and Nonmetal Mines” <a href="https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2017-01-23/pdf/2017-00832.pdf">was adopted</a> by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) in January 2017. Its timing at the end of the Obama administration made it particularly vulnerable to a rollback by the Trump’s anti-regulation squad.</p> <p>The rule established new mine safety protections. In my words:</p> <blockquote><p><em>A competent person is supposed to examine each workplace area at least once each shift before miners begin work in that area. The person is supposed to identify conditions that may adversely affect miners’ safety or health. Before the end of the shift, the person is supposed to put in writing the areas examined and each condition found that may adversely affect miners’ safety or health. When the hazardous condition is fixed (whether immediately or later) a notation is made about when and how it was fixed.</em></p></blockquote> <p>When MSHA <a href="https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2017-01-23/pdf/2017-00832.pdf">issued the rule in January</a>, the agency made an estimate of the rule's cost to mine operators, which largely involved additional wages for the time spent conducting the safety examinations. MSHA estimated, for example, an annual cost of less than $500 for a mining operation with 1-19 employees. (Nearly 90 percent of the mines affected by the rule (about 10,500) fall into this size category.) MSHA made separate cost estimates for mines with 20 to 500 employees (about 1,200 operations) and mines with more than 500 employees (22 operations.) In total, MSHA estimated an annual cost of about $27 million for the industry to comply with the safety examination rule.</p> <p>But now a Trump administration’s appointee at MSHA, <a href="http://blogs.wvgazettemail.com/coaltattoo/2017/08/23/umwa-leadership-changes-at-msha-troubling/">Wayne Palmer</a>, makes a very strange assertion: By modifying the January 2017 safety examination rule, MSHA can give employers more flexibility, eliminate $27 million in costs, and not diminish mine safety. One of the key changes is this: safety examination could be performed <em>while</em> miners are beginning their work, rather than <em>before</em> miners begin their work.</p> <p>Somebody forgot to explain to the Trump crew that the purpose of pre-work safety examinations is to find hazards before workers are exposed to them. The change proposed by MSHA undercuts that purpose.</p> <p>The agency's announcement is laced with language about how this proposal will reduce regulatory burdens. No doubt about that because it would allow mine operators to revert back to the lesser requirements which were in place before the January 2017 rule was adopted. MSHA awkwardly describes it this way in <a href="https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2017-09-12/pdf/2017-19381.pdf">its announcement</a>:</p> <blockquote><p>"The examination was already required prior to the 2017 rule and therefore not an additional cost for either the 2017 rule or this proposed rule. Under this proposed rule, mine operators would not be required to make the 2017 rule changes to the examination timing that were estimated to add $26.9 million for overtime, backfill, and rescheduling."</p></blockquote> <p>The Trump administration's deregulatory zeal is obvious. But they are also trying to insist that the proposed changes will not diminish safety protections for miners. Several times MSHA writes:</p> <blockquote><p>"these changes to the 2017 rule would not reduce the protections afforded miners."</p></blockquote> <p>There's a reason the Trump administration repeats it. The <a href="https://arlweb.msha.gov/REGS/ACT/ACT1.HTM">Mine Act</a> expressly forbids the agency from adopting regulations that diminish miners' safety. The Mine Act reads:</p> <blockquote><p style="text-align: left;">"No mandatory health or safety standard promulgated under this title shall reduce the protection afforded miners by an existing mandatory health or safety standard."</p> </blockquote> <p>It will be up to worker safety advocates to demonstrate the safety difference between performing a hazard assessment <em>before</em> miners begin their worker versus <em>while</em> miners are beginning to work. We already know that the Trump administration and some in the mining industry will be arguing there is no difference.</p> </div> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/author/cmonforton" lang="" about="/author/cmonforton" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">cmonforton</a></span> <span>Fri, 09/15/2017 - 13:47</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/government" hreflang="en">government</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/mining" hreflang="en">Mining</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/msha" hreflang="en">MSHA</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/occupational-fatalities" hreflang="en">occupational fatalities</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/occupational-health-safety" hreflang="en">Occupational Health &amp; Safety</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/metalnonmetal-miners" hreflang="en">metal/nonmetal miners</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/safety-examination" hreflang="en">safety examination</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/mining" hreflang="en">Mining</a></div> </div> </div> <section> </section> <ul class="links inline list-inline"><li class="comment-forbidden"><a href="/user/login?destination=/thepumphandle/2017/09/15/more-deregulation-by-trump-ditching-mine-safety-requirements%23comment-form">Log in</a> to post comments</li></ul> Fri, 15 Sep 2017 17:47:46 +0000 cmonforton 62926 at https://scienceblogs.com Cal/OSHA’s disappearing funds – where’s the money?   https://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/09/14/caloshas-disappearing-funds-wheres-the-money <span>Cal/OSHA’s disappearing funds – where’s the money?  </span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Starting in July 2015, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) was authorized to hire several dozen more field compliance officers to protect the state’s 19 million workers. Because Cal/OSHA’s hiring has not filled all new positions or kept up with retirements, there has been an average of 34 vacancies of these fully-funded positions since then, resulting in $11 million in unused resources through August 2017. Not only is this a missed worker protection opportunity, no one knows what’s happened to these funds and where they are.</p> <p>Another mystery is the whereabouts of estimated $4.3 million dollars that has been collected from California’s 15 oil refineries in a new assessment that began in 2014. But not all collected fees have been spent on activities by the 10 inspectors assigned to enforce “process safety management” (PSM) regulations at these refineries.</p> <p>It is a little-known fact that Cal/OSHA does not control its budget or its hiring, instead the agency’s parent – the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) – has total control and final approval of Cal/OSHA’s spending, hiring and policies. When I worked at Cal/OSHA headquarters between 2011 and 2013, we could never get a straight answer from DIR about our budget. Moreover, we went through several cycles where we were told we could hire inspectors on one day only to have that permission revoked a few days later.</p> <p>These unused resources are important because Cal/OSHA needs all the money it can get to meet its own, state and federal benchmarks for performance, which is not currently the case. These resources could be used for more inspections of high hazard industries and employers; for more follow-up inspections; for more planned inspections of trenching, lead and asbestos operations; and for effective implementation of the state’s new PSM regulations of oil refineries.</p> <p>The fact that Cal/OSHA’s job “is not done yet” is reflected in recent reports by Federal OSHA and the National Safety Council.</p> <p><strong>Inspector position vacancies and unused resources</strong></p> <p>Funding for Cal/OSHA comes from three main sources: grants from Federal OSHA; the state Occupational Safety and Health Fund (“OSH Fund”); and various fees for services provided by Cal/OSHA. The major state funding is the OSH Fund which <a href="https://www.dir.ca.gov/dwc/DWC_RevolvingFundAssessment/16UFund.pdf">assesses a tiny fee</a> (0.23 percent) on employers’ worker compensation insurance premiums. The Governor and Legislature collaborate on the state budget that then authorizes a determined amount of spending for Cal/OSHA from the combined revenue streams.</p> <p>Doing the math of the resources “left on the table” by DIR, starts with the annual salary, benefits and operating costs for each Cal/OSHA compliance safety and health officer (CSHO) which amounts to $150,000.</p> <p>With an average of 34 CSHO vacancies per month between July 2015 and June 2017, the unused resources for these compliance officers amounts to $10.2 million. In July 2017 there were 30 vacant CSHO positions, and 29 vacant CSHO positions in August 2017 – for a combined total of $737,500 in unused resources for the two months.</p> <p>So the unused enforcement resources arising from vacancies in fully-funded CSHO positions between July 2015 and August 2017 is just shy of $11 million.</p> <p>The question then becomes where is this money? What is it being used for?</p> <p>The money certainly is not being used by Cal/OSHA to enhance its protections of Californian workers. Mostly likely, as per <a href="https://govt.westlaw.com/calregs/Document/I1C3AF915CC144C1498268885FF52AED1?viewType=FullText&amp;originationContext=documenttoc&amp;transitionType=CategoryPageItem&amp;contextData=(sc.Default)">Section 15606 (f)</a> of the California Code of Regulations, DIR’s Director Christine Baker is holding the funds in a trust account to be used for future reductions of the fees that employers are assessed annually for the OSH Fund.</p> <p>In other words, these resources are lost to Cal/OSHA and are used to reduce fees on employers in following years. But since DIR handles Cal/OSHA’s budget as an impenetrable “black box” – even for Cal/OSHA headquarters, let alone for workers and the general public – no one really knows.</p> <p>One constant rumor has been that DIR has a giant “slush fund” – used for the DIR Director’s pet projects – drawn from the multiple funds DIR controls for Cal/OSHA, three other state agencies, and the Commission on Health and Safety and Workers’ Compensation. In the last state fiscal year, DIR <a href="http://www.ebudget.ca.gov/2016-17/Enacted/StateAgencyBudgets/7000/7350/department.html">directed the expenditure</a> of more than $641 million of its sub-agencies.</p> <p>But, because of the lack of basic transparency at DIR, no one really knows what happens to funds that are authorized by the state Legislature and collected from employers for the OSH Fund, but then not used, as has been the case of the CSHO vacancies since July 2015.</p> <p><strong>Unspent refinery fee funds</strong></p> <p>Another mystery related to DIR’s control of Cal/OSHA funds is the fate of funds raised from a new fee on oil refineries but, again, not spent on Cal/OSHA enforcement.</p> <p>Following the massive 2012 fire at Chevron’s refinery in Richmond, CA, the state legislature approved a new fee on the state’s 15 oil refineries to finance enhanced enforcement of the “process safety management” (PSM) rules by Cal/OSHA’s designated PSM Unit.</p> <p>In the two state fiscal years from July 2015 through June 2017, DIR collected a total of $9,568,000 in <a href="http://www.ebudget.ca.gov/2016-17/pdf/Enacted/GovernorsBudget/7000/7350FCS.pdf">refinery fees</a> (page 6). The fees are restricted to enforcement activities at refineries, and are not for use at the 1,900 non-refinery facilities that handle hazardous chemicals and are also covered by PSM regulations.</p> <p>During these two years, the PSM Refinery unit had 10 CSHOs, with annual costs of $150,000 per inspector, or a total of $3 million. Manager, supervisory and clerical staff for the two PSM field offices ran another $1,860,00 for the two years. Office operating costs could be an additional 100,000 a year per office, for a two-year sum of $400,000.</p> <p>This means that the refinery-fee expenses for the two years would be no more than $5,260,000.  But DIR collected $9,568,000 in refinery fees.</p> <p>This means that $4,308,00 of the refinery fees collected between 2015 and 2017 went unused.  What happened to this $4.3 million – and where the money is now – is a question that refinery workers and the communities just across the fence line of the 15 refineries deserve to know.</p> <p>Perhaps Section 15606 (f) has also been applied to these funds and the oil giants already have and will receive refunds in the form of reduced future fees from DIR. Transparency on the part of DIR is needed here as well.</p> <p>The need for answers to these questions is more critical than ever.  <a href="https://www.dir.ca.gov/title8/5189_1.html">Enhanced PSM regulations</a> are set to take effect in California on October 1<sup>st</sup>.  All available resources are needed for enforcement and to support the new participation rights of refinery workers.</p> <p><strong>DIR's bad precedent with the Elevator Fund</strong></p> <p>How DIR handled the Elevator Fund bodes ill for making full use of resources for worker and public safety.</p> <p>In 2015, the Elevator Fund had a surplus greater than $35 million dollars, a level which violated state rules. DIR, with the support of the Labor Secretary and Governor’s Office, declared a “fee holiday” on the building owners and operators who pay the annual fees for inspections and other activities by Cal/OSHA’s Elevator Unit.</p> <p>In 2015, the Elevator Unit had more than three dozen vacancies of fully-funded inspector positions. Moreover, at least 35 percent of the state’s elevators had expired permits, and the Unit did not have the inspectors needed to conduct the annual inspection and renewal of elevator permits.</p> <p>Instead of using the Elevator Fund surplus to fill the inspector vacancies and reduce the backlog of uninspected elevators – as required by state law – DIR declared a fee holiday.</p> <p>In January 2017, DIR promulgated an emergency regulation to permanently slash elevator fees by 25 percent for inspections, certifications, installation and alteration of elevators. This emergency regulation was extended for another six months in July, and DIR intends to make it permanent by the end of the year.</p> <p>All this occurred in 2017 while the Elevator Unit still had 14 vacant inspector positions and a backlog of uninspected elevators with expired permits reported to be more than 20 percent throughout the state.</p> <p>It is clear that providing building owners, developers and corporations with refunds took precedence for DIR over using existing funds to hire inspectors and protect the public and workers in buildings with uninspected and potentially unsafe elevators.</p> <p><strong>How the resources could be used</strong></p> <p>For more than two years, DIR has “left on the table” millions of dollars. These resources could have been used for important worker protection activities such as:</p> <ul><li>More inspections of high hazard industries and employers. Cal/OSHA’s the High Hazard Unit had vacancies for District Manager in both District Offices and four inspector vacancies (i.e., 20 percent of total CSHO positions);</li> <li>More follow-up inspections of workplaces where serious citations were issued but not corrected by the end of the inspection. Cal/OSHA is well below the 20 percent follow-up inspection rate required by state law;</li> <li>More planned (“programmed”) inspections of worksites where operations include demolition, trenching, lead and asbestos use. Cal/OSHA is well below its own benchmark for these “permit inspections” which often reveal unsafe conditions arising from these dangerous job tasks;</li> <li>More “health” inspections involving evaluation of worker exposures to airborne chemicals, noise, ergonomic and repetitive motion hazards. These health inspections are more time consuming to conduct. As a result, they receive lower priority when there are not enough CSHOs to open the mandatory accident and worker complaint inspections; and</li> <li>More support activities for the 10 PSM inspectors assigned to refinery enforcement. This is especially important because of the October 1<sup>st</sup> effective date for PSM regulations being enforced by Cal/OSHA and Cal/EPA.</li> </ul><p><strong>Cal/OSHA's work is not yet done</strong></p> <p>Cal/OSHA is considered by many to be the “premiere OSHA state plan.” It offers full coverage of both private and public sector workers, has numerous regulations that are stronger than Fed OSHA’s, and the state provides more resources than required by Fed OSHA. Yet Cal/OSHA’s performance needs improvement beyond the truism that “everything can be improved.”</p> <p>California’s <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/07/11/california-work-fatalities-and-injuries-on-the-rise-while-millions-of-dollars-of-enforcement-resources-are-left-sitting-on-the-table/">injury rates are worse</a> than the injury rate in states covered by Federal OSHA for Fed OSHA and other major industrial states. (The state’s fatality rate is below the national average.)</p> <p>Fed OSHA’s <a href="https://www.osha.gov/dcsp/osp/efame/2016/ca_report.pdf">latest assessment of Cal/OSHA’s performance</a> – the Federal Audit and Monitoring Evaluation report (FAME) – was issued in 2017 and covers the period of October 2015 to September 2016. This FAME report was a follow-up to the comprehensive evaluation report issued in 2016.</p> <p>Fed OSHA still noted several significant deficiencies:</p> <ul><li>Cal/OSHA conducted 344 “high hazard” inspections during the federal fiscal year, which was 14 percent short of the federal benchmark of 400 inspections. The report stated the shortfall was due to “staffing vacancies;”</li> <li>Cal/OSHA’s “case lapse time” needed to close an inspection and issue citations is still more than 20 percent longer than the national average. California has an average lapse time of 68.5 days for safety inspections and 73.9 days for health inspections, compared to the national average of 45.2 days and 57.3 days, respectively; and</li> <li>California’s fatality rate in construction and agriculture rose between 2013 and 2015, increasing from 6.5 deaths per 100,000 workers to 6.8 in construction, and from 9.2 to 17.1 in agriculture, forestry and fishing;</li> </ul><p>Fed OSHA’s FAME report continued to document California’s abysmal performance in investigating worker complaints of employer retaliation and reprisals for raising health and safety concerns. These investigations are not done by Cal/OSHA, but rather by the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE), which is also overseen by DIR.</p> <p>The report noted that the number of retaliation complaint investigations completed within 90 days – the federal benchmark – was only 7 percent. The average number of days taken by DLSE to complete an investigation was 462 days – a year and three months!  And in only 20 percent of these investigations were the worker complaints of retaliation found to be “meritorious.”</p> <p>In June 2017, the National Safety Council (NSC) released its <a href="http://www.nsc.org/NSCDocuments_Advocacy/State-of-Safety/State-Report.pdf">first annual report</a> on safety performance in the 50 states in the areas of roadway, home, community and workplace safety. The report had four levels of performance: “on track,” “developing,” “off track” and “not graded.”</p> <p>The NSC gave California a grade of “C” for the five workplace safety criteria in the report.  According to the NSC, workplace prevention, preparedness and enforcement in California is at the “developing” level; worker health and wellbeing is also at the “developing” level; and California’s workers’ compensation system is “off track.”</p> <p><strong>Conclusion</strong></p> <p>In the last two years, the California Legislature has provided DIR with significantly increased financial resources to enhance the effectiveness of Cal/OSHA and better protect the state’s 19 million workers. DIR has failed to take full advantage of these resources to strengthen Cal/OSHA, and at the same time has provided refunds to employers who have paid the fees that generate these unused resources.</p> <p>The Governor, his Labor Secretary, and DIR director are putting the interests of employers, building operators, and refineries ahead of worker and public protection.</p> <p>The net effect is a Cal/OSHA that is weaker and much less effective than it could be if all available resources were put to work. The people who pay the cost of these resources “left on the table” are the workers of California and their families and communities.</p> <p><em>Garrett Brown is a certified industrial hygienist who worked for Cal/OSHA for 20 years as a field Compliance Safety and Health Officer and then served as Special Assistant to the Chief of the Division before retiring in 2014. Since retiring, Brown continues to follow Cal/OSHA issues and established the <a href="http://insidecalosha.org">“Inside Cal/OSHA”</a> website. Brown also has been the volunteer Coordinator of the Maquiladora Health &amp; Safety Support Network since 1993 and has coordinated projects in Bangladesh, Central America, China, Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Mexico and Vietnam. </em></p> <p> </p> </div> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/author/garrettbrown" lang="" about="/author/garrettbrown" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">garrettbrown</a></span> <span>Thu, 09/14/2017 - 04:20</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/calosha" hreflang="en">Cal/OSHA</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/california" hreflang="en">california</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/chemical-facility-safety" hreflang="en">Chemical facility safety</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/government" hreflang="en">government</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/occupational-fatalities" hreflang="en">occupational fatalities</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/occupational-health-safety" hreflang="en">Occupational Health &amp; Safety</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/regulation" hreflang="en">regulation</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/safety" hreflang="en">safety</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/christine-baker" hreflang="en">Christine Baker</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/regulation" hreflang="en">regulation</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/safety" hreflang="en">safety</a></div> </div> </div> <section> </section> <ul class="links inline list-inline"><li class="comment-forbidden"><a href="/user/login?destination=/thepumphandle/2017/09/14/caloshas-disappearing-funds-wheres-the-money%23comment-form">Log in</a> to post comments</li></ul> Thu, 14 Sep 2017 08:20:10 +0000 garrettbrown 62925 at https://scienceblogs.com