Interactive Map of Workplace Fatalities

September 10, 2007



“Each year, thousands of American workers die on the job. Sixteen workers are killed in workplace accidents each day. Ten times that many die of occupational diseases caused by hazards (or hazardous substances) like asbestos. And every 2.5 seconds, a worker is injured in the United States,” said Miller. “This grim toll includes construction workers, public safety workers, and workers at chemical facilities and oil refineries. It includes people who spend most of their time working outdoors, as well as people who work inside office buildings, manufacturing plants, and stores. It includes young and old workers. There are simply too many American workers, from all walks of life, who get injured, sick, or killed on the job.”


On August 9, the U.S. Labor Department reported that 5,703 workers died in workplace accidents in 2006. Today, Miller launched an online map of worker fatalities that he hoped would remind Americans of the urgent need for increased efforts to eliminate unsafe job conditions. The map relies on published news reports in 2007 to show worker fatalities nationwide, and it includes information about the workers’ occupations and causes of death. The map represents roughly 10 percent of the total number of on-the-job fatalities so far this year.


“The tragedy at Utah’s Crandall Canyon Mine reminds us of the dangers that too many workers face every day. It is my hope that the launch of this map will help policymakers and the public understand the extent of workplace fatalities in this country and the importance of acting aggressively to improve workplace safety,” said Miller.


Earlier this year, U.S. Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), chairwoman of the House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, and U.S. Rep. Phil Hare (D-IL), a member of the subcommittee, introduced legislation to reduce workplace fatalities, injuries, and sicknesses. The Protecting America’s Workers Act (H.R. 2049) would boost workplace safety by strengthening and expanding the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Specifically, the legislation would:

Apply federal safety standards to workers who are not currently covered, including federal, state, and local employees, and some private-sector employees

Increase penalties against employers for repeated and willful violations of the law, including making felony charges available when an employer’s repeated and willful violation of the law leads to a worker’s death or serious injury

Better protect workers who blow the whistle on unsafe workplace conditions

Enhance the public’s right to know about safety violations

Make clear that employers must provide the necessary safety equipment to their workers, such as goggles, gloves, respirators, or other personal protective equipment


“In hearings held earlier this year, witnesses told the committee that both the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration are not doing enough to update basic workplace safety standards and that the agencies have shifted their focus from enforcing the law to providing companies with so-called voluntary compliance assistance,” said Miller.




Protecting Rescue Recovery Workers



Rescue and recovery operations associated with the bridge collapse in Minneapolis highlight the rigors of such operations and the need to protect rescue and recovery workers from potential hazards, says the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Generally, rescue and recovery operations involving work among structural debris and in or under water can pose risks for physical injuries, heat stress, and other hazards.


Preventing work-related injuries and illnesses at rescue and recovery sites involves strategic planning to anticipate potential hazards and strategic management of operations based on site conditions, says NIOSH. Disaster sites pose a multitude of health and safety concerns. The hazards and exposures are a function of the unstable nature of the site, the potential of hazardous substances being present, and the type of work being performed.


Accurate assessment of all hazards may not be possible because they may not be immediately obvious or identifiable. Rescue personnel may select protective measures based on limited information. In addition to the hazards of direct exposure, workers also are subject to dangers posed by the unstable physical environment, the stress of working in protective clothing, and the emotional trauma of the situation.


NIOSH suggests these measures to manage potential occupational hazards at rescue and recovery sites:

Develop a work plan for operations and periodically review and update the plan as more information about site conditions is obtained

Develop a checklist for the site that assigns responsibilities for safety management and describes needed safety and health duties

Designate a field team leader and develop a checklist to help the team leader oversee the preparation, training, and deployment of volunteers; enforce site control; enforce the buddy system; and notify the site safety officer or supervisor of unsafe conditions

Identify and manage potential hazards from debris and unstable work surfaces, noise, respirable dust, heat stress, confined spaces, chemical exposures, traumatic stress, electricity, carbon monoxide, contaminated water, and other potential hazards that may exist at the emergency site




OSHA Proposes $67,000-Plus in Penalties Against Miami Window Manufacturer



OSHA proposed penalties of $67,650 against Glasswall LLC for 26 serious safety violations found at its Miami, Fla., aluminum window manufacturing plant.


Inspectors visited the facility in March as part of OSHA’s Site-Specific Targeting Program, which targets the nation’s most hazardous workplaces for inspection based on their histories of having high numbers of injury and illness cases.


“Our inspection of the company showed numerous problems which indicated a lack of attention to safety,” said Darlene Fossum, OSHA’s area director in Fort Lauderdale. “Employers are offered assistance when they are identified with high injuries and illness rates. This employer failed to take any corrective actions until we entered the facility to conduct our inspection.”


OSHA found exit doors obstructed and unmarked, employees not wearing eye protection, machines lacking safety guards, forklifts in poor repair being used by untrained operators, and extension cords being used inappropriately. In addition, the plant was cited for not maintaining the mandatory OSHA 300 Log, which employers must maintain to track work-related injuries and illnesses.


The company has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to contest them and the proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The site was inspected by staff from OSHA’s Fort Lauderdale Area Office, which can be reached at 954-424-0242.


OSHA Cites Milwaukee Oven Manufacturer for Workplace Safety and Health Violations



OSHA has proposed $187,150 in fines against International Thermal Systems LLC of Milwaukee, Wis., for alleged multiple willful and serious violations of federal workplace safety standards.


As a result of safety and health inspections, OSHA issued two willful citations with proposed penalties totaling $100,000 for allegations that the company failed to provide adequate fall protection and to evaluate hazards in confined spaces. The agency also issued citations for 36 serious violations with proposed penalties of $87,150, covering a variety of concerns including machine guarding, electrical issues, fall protection, and respirators. Other serious violations were for safety and health issues involving spray finishing, fire extinguishers, welding, and bloodborne pathogens.


“Falls continue to be a major threat to working men and women,” said George Yoksas, director of OSHA’s area office in Milwaukee. “Falls are preventable and should not happen at any worksite. Employers must remain committed to keeping the workplace safe and healthful or face scrutiny by this agency.”


International Thermal Systems LLC began operation in Milwaukee in 2000. The company manufactures industrial ovens and then disassembles them for shipment to customers. OSHA previously inspected this facility in December 2000, when it was issued an other-than-serious violation involving a crane maintenance program.


OSHA Proposes $76,500 in Fines for Willful Machine Guarding Violation



OSHA has proposed penalties totaling $76,500 against Savannah Luggage Works, a Vidalia, Ga., manufacturer of military and commercial products, including body armor vests.


The Labor Department proposed a fine of $63,000 against the company for willfully failing to provide machine guards to protect employees and penalties of $13,500 for four other serious safety violations.


“Despite warnings and the company’s own experiences, management chose not to undertake a basic and easily implemented action that could prevent employees from being injured while operating mechanical rivet/snap machines,” said John J. Deifer, OSHA’s area director in Savannah.


The willful violation was issued after OSHA inspectors determined that the company did not take corrective action despite having been notified by a safety consultant in 1993 that the machine guards were necessary. Two employees have been injured as a result of the missing guards, which came with the original equipment at the time of purchase but were later removed from the machines.


The four serious safety violations included exposing employees to electric start-up hazards by not implementing a lockout program, exposing employees to electrical shocks by using a metal-cased duplex electrical receptacle, not providing guards on machine drive pulleys and belts, and not having a written exposure control plan for employees assigned as first-aid responders.


OSHA Proposes $155,000 in Fines After Fatality Due to Unprotected Trench



OSHA has cited Midwest Farm Service Inc. $155,000 in proposed penalties for two alleged willful, three serious, and two other-than-serious federal health and safety violations following a fatal trench cave-in at the company’s worksite in Scottsbluff.


OSHA initiated its inspection following a March 7 accident that killed a 25-year-old construction employee when a portion of an unprotected trench collapsed. Midwest Farm Service was installing an agricultural irrigation piping system when the fatality occurred. The company is headquartered in Gering, Neb.


“Midwest Farm Service failed to take appropriate action to protect employees in the trench,” said Charles E. Adkins, OSHA’s regional administrator in Kansas City, Mo. “Excavation walls can collapse quickly and without warning. Employers must remain committed to keeping the workplace safe and healthful to prevent these types of accidents.”


The alleged willful violations are for failing to ensure excavated soil from the trench (the spoil pile) and equipment remain at least two feet from the trench edge and not providing cave-in protection systems. Willful violations are those committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.


The alleged serious violations address hazards associated with failure to develop and implement accident prevention programs related to trenching and excavations; failure to instruct employees in the hazards associated with trenches and excavations, as well as the means to reduce or eliminate such hazards; and failure to have trench inspections conducted by a competent person. Serious violations are those that could result in death or serious physical harm, about which the employer knew or should have known.


AIHA Comments on “Ban Asbestos in America Act of 2007”



The American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) sent a letter to U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) in response to S. 742, the “Ban Asbestos in America Act of 2007,” a bill that would prohibit the importing, manufacturing, processing, or distributing of products containing asbestos in the United States.


AIHA offers support for the education, study, and research sections of S. 742 and House companion HR 3339, which requires the federal government to conduct additional research on the health effects of various forms of asbestos and education. As for an outright ban, AIHA believes this would solve only the issue of new uses of asbestos, while millions of pounds of asbestos already in use continue to pose a threat. AIHA members continue to work to control exposure to asbestos already in use.


“The real question is not whether legislation should be enacted to ban all uses of asbestos, but whether we can determine how to prevent new uses of asbestos from creating a hazard to individuals,” said AIHA President Donald J. Hart, PhD, CIH. AIHA believes that if a ban is the only way to control exposure to new uses of asbestos, then this is a decision that is best left to policymakers and regulators.


The bill would create a $50 million Asbestos-Related Disease Research and Treatment Network, composed of 10 new research and treatment centers around the country. The network would focus on finding better treatment, early detection, and prevention strategies. A new National Asbestos-Related Disease Registry would be established. This national clearinghouse for data would help scientists conduct more comprehensive research. The bill directs the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to study the current state of knowledge on asbestos disease mechanisms, health effects, and measurement methods. It also would require a public education campaign about asbestos dangers and supports asbestos disease research by the Department of Defense that would benefit veterans.


“Although much is known about the toxicity of asbestos, we have neglected this type of research for far too long. Enacting legislation that would require NIOSH and others to further study the health effects of asbestos and related substances, as well as study efforts to improve sampling and analytical methods for the detection of asbestos would be of great importance to AIHA and our members,” said Hart.


The AIHA letter is available at under “Government Affairs.” For more information regarding AIHA comments to Sen. Murray or other AIHA Government Affairs issues, please contact Aaron Trippler, AIHA government affairs director, at 703-846-0730


Indiana Department of Labor Honors Louisiana Pacific With Safety Award



Indiana Department of Labor (IDOL) Commissioner, Lori A. Torres, is proud to announce Louisiana Pacific’s (LP) Middlebury, Ind., facility has achieved Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) “Star” status. VPP, Indiana’s Voluntary Protection Program, was established to recognize and promote safety and health management programs throughout the state. All companies, regardless of size or business, can participate in VPP —where management and employees work together to create and maintain a healthy working environment.


LP Middlebury is a manufacturer of expanded polystyrene, rigid and expanded PVC moldings used in the construction and remodeling of commercial and residential structures. At LP, workplace safety and health is a core value, as LP’s Middlebury facility joins seven other LP sites in VPP. LP Middlebury has not had an OSHA recordable injury in the last two years of operation.


The VPP award ceremony was held on Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2007, in Middlebury. The ceremony provided an opportunity for LP employees and management to showcase their exemplary status to the media, state officials, and local elected officials.

To qualify for VPP “Star” status, an organization’s Total Case Incident Rate (TCIR) must be below that of the industry’s average for their respective Standard Industrial Classification (SIC)/North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). LP’s three-year TCIR is nearly 89 percent below the industry’s average. The three-year Days Away from Work/Restricted Job Activity/Transfer (DART) is 100 percent below the industry’s average. “These rates are truly noteworthy and worthy of showcasing. LP is proof positive that management commitment and employee involvement in occupational safety and health have lasting effects on an organization’s safety culture.” added Torres.


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