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Deceased Workers Must Be Remembered: Chemical Safety Board “Made the Right Call” by Including Names in Investigative Reports, says National COSH

Tuesday, September 17, 2019
Press Contacts: 

Roger Kerson, roger@nationalcosh.org, 734.645.0535

Deceased Workers Must Be Remembered:
Chemical Safety Board “Made the Right Call”
by Including Names in Investigative Reports, says National COSH

WASHINGTON DC – The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH) praised a decision announced today by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) during its meeting in Washington DC today, to reverse course and return to a policy of including the names of deceased workers in its investigative reports.

“Workers who lose their lives on the job must be remembered,” said Peter Dooley, health and safety project consultant at National COSH. “The U.S. Chemical Safety Board made the right call by deciding to include the names of deceased workers when it releases an investigative report about workplace fatalities – and this should be the standard across all federal, state and local agencies.”

The CSB, an independent federal agency charged with investigating industrial chemical incidents, has included names of fatally injured workers in its reports since 2014. The agency changed its policy in June with the release of a report about a 2014 fatal blowout at a Pryor Trust gas well in Oklahoma and a 2018 chemical release at a DuPont fertilizer plant in LaPorte. Nine workers died in those two incidents, but none of them were named in the CSB report.

At its meeting today, CSB Interim Executive Authority Kristen Kulinowski announced that board members had previously voted to amend its Accident Victim and Family Communication Program to include publication of names of the deceased in future CSB investigative reports, unless there is an objection by immediate family members. CSB members also voted today amend the DuPont LaPorte and Pryor Trust reports to add the names of individuals who died in the two incidents.

During public comments at the CSB’s June 26 meeting, a number of speakers urged the agency to reconsider its policy.  No member of the public spoke in favor of continuing to exclude the names of deceased workers.

“On behalf of families who have lost their loved ones, I’d like to say ‘thank you’ to the Chemical Safety Board,” said Holly Shaw-Hollis, a workplace safety activist and a member of the board of directors of both National COSH and the Philadelphia Project on Occupational Safety and Health (PhilaPOSH). Her husband Scott died after a fall from a commercial barge in Philadelphia in 2002. “I remember my husband every day.  My sons remember their father every day.  No report about these terrible, preventable incidents is complete if it does not include the names of those we have lost. Naming those who have been killed reminds everyone that they are not just a number and a statistic, but a person with a family who loved them and will miss them. A family whose lives have been forever changed by the tragic event.”

“It’s good to know that the CSB gave thoughtful consideration to strong feedback from workers, families, advocates and occupational safety and health experts,” said Dooley. “The CSB and other safety agencies must do everything possible to gather the facts about how workers died in order to prevent further tragedies.  The first step is knowing who the people are who lost their lives.”

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National COSH links the efforts of local worker health and safety coalitions in communities across the United States, advocating for elimination of preventable hazards in the workplace. For more information, please visit nationalcosh.org. Follow us at National Council for Occupational Safety and Health on Facebook and @NationalCOSH on Twitter.