Occupational Health News Roundup

The escalating drug-cartel violence in Mexico is especially dangerous for those trying to govern and enforce the law. Drug traffickers demanded that Ciudad Juarez Police Chief Chief Roberto Orduña Cruz should resign, and promised to kill a police officer every 48 hours. After Orduñaâs deputy, four other police officers, and a prison guard were murdered, Orduña resigned and fled the city. The federal government has sent 5,000 soldiers to take over the cityâs police department. The New York Timesâ Mark Lacy reports:

Right now, the Juárez police are no match for the outlaws. Last year, the senior uniformed officer was killed, one of 45 local police officers killed since January 2007, and a former police chief pleaded guilty to charges of smuggling a ton of marijuana from Juárez to El Paso. Mr. Orduña, who lived at the police station to avoid being killed, had replaced another chief who fled to El Paso after receiving threats last year. If the army had not come in, the mayor would no doubt have had a difficult time finding somebody to head the department.

Juarez Mayor José Reyes Ferriz, who has vowed not to give in the traffickers, has received threats that he and his family will be decapitated, even if the killers have to follow him across the border to his second home in El Paso. Recently, gunman shot at three cars in the mayorâs motorcade, killing one of his bodyguards.

In other news:

Arkansas Times: McDonaldâs denied one of its employees workersâ compensation benefits, even though the employee was shot because he intervened to help a woman who was being beaten in the restaurant.

MetroWest Daily News (Massachusetts): UMass Lowell researchers report that many Brazilian-born painters have high blood-lead levels; language barriers and employersâ failure to follow standards when working in buildings with lead-based paint are likely to blame.

Louisville Courier-Journal: Now that thereâs a new administration, proponents of the Clinton-era ergonomics rule hope Obama will address that issue.

Calgary Herald: The Alberta Cancer Board and the provincial government are developing a strategy to track and prevent occupational diseases. They suspect that far more workers than reported are dying from cancers related to exposure to workplace chemicals.

McClatchy Newspapers: President Obamaâs budget plan includes increased funding for OSHA to allow it to increase enforcement efforts.

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