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Fourth of July Toll: Five Workers Dead

Martez Holland is lying in he burn unit at UNC Hospital in Chapel Hill, his body struggling to recover from third degree burns to his face, arms, and hands from a fireworks explosion on Ocracoke Island in North Carolina. He is the lucky one--four of his co-workers were killed in the July 4th incident, when the truck they were unloading exploded. Charles Kirkland died instantly. Mark Hill, Lisa Simmons, and Terry Holland were rushed to the hospital where they all perished.

OSHA Proposes $1.1 Million in Fines for Confined Space Haz's

OSHA is sending a strong signal that it takes confined space hazards seriously--proposed fines of over a million dollars on Wisconsin-based Milk Specialties Company. OSHA cited the company for willful violations of its confined space entry and control of hazardous energy requirements. OSHA alleges that untrained employees entered confined spaces and performed maintenance and cleaning on powered equipment without protection from various hazards. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.

Another Worker Dies at NC Meat Plant

In the second fatal incident this month at a North Carolina meat processing plant, a Fayetteville, NC man was killed when an ammonia line ruptured at the Mountaire Farms poultry plant in Lumber Bridge, NC. At least five others were injured, some in critical condition.

These two fatal incidents again raise questions about the safety of North Carolina's meat processing industry, which were exposed in "The Cruelest Cuts,"a fine series of articles by the Charlotte Observer last year.

Austin Statesman: Construction Deaths "Tragedy" not "Accident"

In an excellent editorial today, the Austin Statesman decried the enormous toll of human life taken by failures to protect construction workers in Texas from safety hazards. The deaths of three men who fell from a broken scaffold on a high-rise apartment building under construction were a reminder of the sad state of construction safety in Texas.

Let us do our Job! CAL OSHA Inspectors to Appeals Board

A group of 47 CAL OSHA field inspectors, senior and district managers have written a letter of complaint to members of the California OSHA Appeals Board protesting "Board policies and practices that have significantly undermined our ability to do our job of protecting the lives, health and safety of California’s workers." The letter alleges that the Appeals Board has for over four years followed a deliberate policy of scheduling hearings in such a way that it is impossible for inspectors to do their job properly:

Dying for Work in New York

(New York, NY - June 11) The New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) today released a new report on worker deaths in New York State and presented a copy of the report to Jordan Barab, Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Teen Killed in Propane Blast

A 17 year old employee of a farm supply store near Minneapolis-St.Paul was killed yesterday when a propane tank exploded in front of the store. Another teen was injured.

An OSHA inspection of the business on Feb. 17 found two violations related to the handling and storage of compressed gases. One violation was classified as serious.

Read more here.

Jail Time for Employer in Teen Worker's Death

The owner of a New Hampshire farm was sentenced to ten months in jail for negligent homicide following the death of a 17 year old worker, who was crushed in her barn. Travis DeSimone, 17, died July 3, 2007, when a concrete wall at the farm collapsed, crushing him. OSHA's inspection found that DeSimone and other employees were assigned to work within the wall's collapse zone, even though the fractured and leaning wall presented a clearly recognized hazard.

UCLA Appeals OSHA Fine--Victims' Friends Outraged

UCLA has appealed the CAL-OSHA citation for serious workplace safety violations that resulted in the death of 23 year old Sheri Sangji. CAL-OSHA found that Ms. Sangji had not received proper training and was not wearing appropriate personal protective equipment.

Friends and family of Ms. Sangji are outraged at the university's appeal. They have argued that the local District Attorney's office should take up the case and have circulated a petition to urge a thorough investigation. The petition can be found here .

Dangerous Lab Conditions: Not only at UCLA

An article today in the respected academic journal Science suggests that the conditions that led to the death of an employee in a laboratory fire at UCLA were not an anomaly. One senior professor at a top research university who also had long experience in industry told Science that a "culture of safety" is seriously lacking in university labs, which often present conditions worse than those in private industry.

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