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CAL-OSHA Criticized for Weak Fines

Some California legislators are questioning the common practice by the California OSHA Appeals Board of drastically cutting fines after appeals by employers. The state Senate Committee on Labor and Industrial Relations is hearing testimony about the issue. Marta Guzman of the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation told the Senate committee that cutting fines has amounted to "a slap on the hand" for companies. In one case, $13,500 in fines issued were cut to $250 for a labor contractor after a worker died of heat stress in 2005.

Another teen worker killed on the job

Seventeen year old Miguel Herrera died on Friday when the forklift he was operating at an Omaha, Nebraska meat processing plant tipped over. The Fair Labor Standards Act prohibits youth under age 18 from operating forklifts in non-agricultural industries.

Fall Death of 15 Year Old Brings $23,800 OSHA fine

Despite being only 15 years old, Luis Montoya was able to get a job on a highly hazardous demolition job site in the Atlanta area last year. According to a report in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, in an incident last November:

"Witnesses said Montoya was tossing debris from the third floor to the ground floor when he lost his balance and toppled through an empty escalator shaft. He fell about 40 feet."

Massachusetts to Provide OSHA Protections to State Employees

Governor Patrick commemorates Workers' Memorial Day with executive order
extending workplace protections to state employees

Nevada: 12 Construction Deaths, Meager Response

According to an article in yesterday's Las Vegas Sun, state Senator Maggie Carlton's efforts to reform the Nevada OSHA program are likely to produce little action. It seems that Senator Carlton and the family members of those killed in the spate of construction disasters in Las Vegas over the past two years are the only people who are concerned about the issue. Carlton's proposal to take Nevada OSHA out of the Business and Industry Department, where it had been subject to undue influence preventing it from effectively enforcing standards, has died a quiet death.

Rep. Hare Introduces Injury & Illness Reporting Bill for Large Employers

Rep. Phil Hare (D-IL)introduced this week HR 2113, the Corporate Injury, Illness, and Fatality Reporting Act of 2009, which would create new requirements for large employers to report a variety of data to the US Department of Labor. Under the bill employers with more than 500 employees AND which own and control more than one establishment would be required to report:

1) the numbers and rates of work-related deaths, injuries, and illnesses; and
(2) compliance data, including--
(A) the inspection number of each inspection
(B) the opening date of such inspection; and

Labor Sec'y Solis Announces Safety Plans

(From the A.P. wire): Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said Tuesday that the government would soon propose new safety rules to protect workers from industrial dust that can cause explosions and a popcorn flavoring chemical linked to lung disease.

The announcement is part of her efforts to boost safety enforcement at the department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Solis made her remarks at a groundbreaking ceremony dedicating a national memorial in Silver Spring, Md., to workers who have died on the job.

Worker Killed in Trench Cave-In on eve of Workers Memorial Day

Javier Iniguez, of Huntington Park, CA, was killed when a trench collapsed on top of him, burying him in concrete and dirt. The incident occurred on the evening before the annual international commemoration of Workers Memorial Day, remembering workers killed on the job.

Trench collapses are one of the most well-known construction safety hazards and one of the most preventable, but nonetheless common, causes of death on construction sites.

Another young man's life lost due to inadequate safety precautions--another tragic death to be remembered on next year's Workers Memorial Day.

House Democrats Introduce Bill to Reform OSHA

House Democrats, led by Rep. Lynn Woolsey, re-introduced today the Protecting Americas Workers Act. The bill contains many provisions recommended by the National COSH and allies in the Protecting Workers Alliance's policy platform entitled Protecting Workers on the Job: Seven Priorities for Federal Action in 2009."

Among other provisions, the bill would:

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

Jordan Barab Named Acting OSHA Chief

Longtime health and safety activist Jordan Barab was named acting head of OSHA by Labor Secretary Hilda Solis. Barab has been working for the last two years as a senior policy adviser for the House Education and Labor Committee, where he has played a key role in bringing workers' health and safety concerns to the forefront.

The National COSH is very pleased to see this appointment which indicates a strong commitment to worker safety and health on the part of the new administration.

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