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Imperial Sugar Warned about Danger Two Days Before Fatal Explosion

The Augusta Chronicle reports that consultants hired by Imperial Sugar warned the company's management several times about defects in its sugar dust control system prior to the catastrophic blast there that killed 14 people and injured many others last February 7. The last warning came just two days before the explosion.

"One consultant described the dust collection systems as "state of the art" - for the early 1960s," reported the Chronicle.

Read the full article here.

"Popcorn Lung" Shows up in Candy Makers

Investigative journalist Andrew Schneider writes that a cluster of former candy factory workers has been diagnosed as suffering from the lung disease caused by exposure to the flavoring agent diacetyl. Schneider notes that

Fall Hazards: OSHA Proposes $118,650 in fines for Stucco Contractor

OSHA has proposed $118,650 in fines against 4 Brothers Stucco Co., a Cleveland, Tenn.-based stucco contractor, for 15 alleged repeat and serious violations of safety standards. OSHA's inspection found employees working on scaffolding, in an aerial lift, and on the roof at a worksite in Torrington, Conn., were exposed to falls of up to 22 feet. The inspection also identified electrical, overhead, and chemical hazard communication deficiencies at the worksite.

Safety focus needed in Stimulus Projects: AIHA

The American Industrial Hygiene Association sent a letter to the President, urging him to direct OSHA to ensure that the jobs created by the stimulus package have adequate workplace protections. The AIHA's position echoes that of the National COSH and its affiliates, which have expressed serious concerns about the lack of provisions for mandatory safety training in the federal stimulus bill.

Audit tells OSHA to Return $681,379 to Dubious Consultant

The Department of Labor's Inspector General has criticized payments by federal OSHA to consultant Randy Kimlin, a former chemical company executive. Kimlin was closely connected to former OSHA Director Edwin Foulke, an appointee of former President Bush. The Washington Post reports that:

His work was illegally authorized without competition or proper authority from the Labor Department, the audit added. "There is potential criminal activity related to the audit findings," said Jeffrey Lagda, a spokesman for the inspector general.

DOL Inspector General Finds OSHA Enhanced Enforcement Program Woefully Lacking

The U.S. Department of Labor's Inspector General conducted an audit of OSHA's Enhanced Enhancement Program and found that it failed to follow proper investigative procedures in 97 percent of cases. The special enforcement program, highly touted by the Bush Administration, was initiated in 2003 to target the work sites of high-risk employers for increased enforcement. The audit found that many employers identified as high risk that should have been targeted for enforcement were never inspected.

Protecting Worker's Alliance Sends Recommendations to Obama Administration on OSHA & NIOSH Leadership

The National COSH and its allied organizations in the Protecting Workers Alliance sent a letter today to Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis and the Obama Administration with recommendations regarding appointments to the top leadership positions in OSHA, NIOSH, and MSHA.

The full text of the Alliance's press statement follows:



NY State Workers' Comp System: "A World of Hurt" for Injured Workers

The New York Times has done an in-depth investigation of the New York state workers' compensation system and what it found isn't pretty. The Times reports that the state puts injured workers through a seemingly never-ending gauntlet of obstacles before agreeing to pay what turns out to be a miserly benefit. Citing just a few cases of injustices faces by injured workers, the Times pointed out that:

Las Vegas Sun calls for State OSHA Overhaul

In a strongly worded editorial, the Las Vegas Sun called today for an overhaul of the state's OSHA program:

"The state has to send a strong signal that business as usual isn’t acceptable anymore. With more people and resources, Nevada OSHA could institute better training, more programs to help employers improve their safety records and tougher enforcement to ensure compliance. Nevada OSHA, as well, has to maintain the will to impose fines when warranted and not bow to pressure from companies to reduce penalties.

$1.2 Million OSHA Fine proposed for chemical violations

A St. Louis-based chemical repackaging and distribution company was cited for numerous willful and serious OSHA violations for the handling of dangerous chemicals. OSHA proposed fines totally $1.2 million, noting that employees were exposed to the chemical para-nitroaniline (PNA),a poison that causes methemoglobinemia, a condition that reduces the blood's ability to transport oxygen.

Read more here.