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COSH Network in the News

Politico: OSHA Budget Hurts Ebola Response -- 10/17/2014

...In FY 2011, federal-level OSHA inspected only 138 hospitals, and state-level OSHA agencies inspected only 233 hospitals. “Ebola is just one example of an infectious disease that a health care worker can contract,” says National Council for Occupational and Safety Health Executive Director Mary Vogel. “This is always a risk in the healthcare industry.”

EHS Today: Ebola Outbreak Shows Need for Stronger Protection for Health Care Workers -- 10/17/2014

Reports that a second Dallas hospital worker has been infected with the Ebola virus show the need for stronger and more comprehensive on-the-job protections for health care workers, says Mary Vogel, executive director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health..

NBC News 4, New York: What Tri-State Agencies Are Doing to Prepare for Ebola -- 10/17/2014

...The New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health along with state nursing unions and organizations issued two fact sheets about the virus and are urging employers to educate workers on Ebola.

The Nation: If Airport Ebola Screening Makes You Feel Safer, You Should Know What Workers Are Saying -- 10/12/2014

...The New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) recently surveyed workers at Kennedy and LaGuardia airports and found that workers suffered regular exposure to toxic chemicals, unsafe working conditions and insufficient protective equipment and training. Airline terminal and cabin cleaners, along with wheelchair attendants who aid passengers with disabilities, often come into direct contact with bodily fluids and waste and chemical irritants, without adequate safety protection or training.

New York Times: Injury Statistics by Race Go Uncollected -- 10/9/2014

A February 2013 study by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics found that in recent years, Hispanics have been more likely to die on the job than other racial groups. Foreign-born workers, who are less familiar with English and American safety guidelines, are particularly vulnerable, the study found.

“We certainly believe that Hispanics and Latinos suffer injuries at higher rates than white workers,” said Mary Vogel, executive director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health. (This article concurrently appeared in The Texas Tribune.)

Huffington Post: Airplane Cleaners Strike At LaGuardia Airport Over Ebola Fears -- 10/9/2014

...The New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health, a worker advocacy group, recently released a report that was critical of working conditions at LaGuardia and JFK airports. An SEIU release Thursday said Air Serv cabin cleaners have filed complaints with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

New York Amsterdam News: Airport workers to address Ebola concerns -- 10/9/2014

...There are more than 8,600 subcontracted service workers at John F. Kennedy and LaGuardia airports. The New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health conducted interviews with subcontracted ground crew workers, and according to a new report released by the Committee for Occupational Safety and Health, hazardous exposure to bodily fluids, blood borne pathogens, unlabeled chemical cleaners, diesel emissions, temperature extremes and loud noises have all put contracted airport workers at risk.

Washington Post: Why are more Latinos dying on the job again? - 10/7/2014

...Injuries often go under-reported, especially among Latinos...

Instead, safety wonks focus on deaths, which are gathered through news reports and investigations, and are believed to be more or less comprehensive. “Plainly put,” says Mary Vogel, executive director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, a coalition of non-profit groups that work on worker safety, “it’s harder to hide a dead worker.”

ISHN: National COSH recognizes Health and Safety award winners -- 10/7/2014

The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH) says the the winners of its 2014 health and safety awards are “extraordinary people” who are helping to make workplaces safer by empowering workers and building coalitions.

ISHN: Report: NY airport workers face serious health, safety hazards -- 10/6/2014

Hazardous exposure to bodily fluids, bloodborne pathogens, unlabeled chemical cleaners, diesel emissions, temperature extremes and ear-splitting noise has put contracted airport workers at risk, according to a report by the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH). The report confirmed the many dangerous, yet preventable, working conditions that workers at JFK and LaGuardia airports have complained about for years.

"In our interviews with contracted out airport workers we found that unsafe working conditions are pervasive at JFK and LaGuardia airports," said Charlene Obernauer, NYCOSH Executive Director. "These hazardous conditions are preventable, and contractors, airlines and airports should make it a priority to eliminate these risks for workers and passengers alike."

CBS 2 News, New York: City Official Joins Public Advocate Letitia James In Call For Better Safety For Nail Salon Workers -- 9/20/2014

...Charlene Obernauer, who heads the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health, said the state’s 5,000 nail salons use a toxic cocktail of chemicals, including “Formaldehyde, which is a known carcinogen…and toluene, which causes reproductive and nervous system problems.”

AllGov: Fewer Workers Die on the Job…Except Latinos - 9/16/2014

“It’s a growing problem that temporary workers have injuries and fatalities higher than the rest of the population,” said Mary Vogel, executive director of the National Council on Occupational Safety and Health, told The Center for Public Integrity (CPI). “That’s one reason we have to be really concerned about contract workers: they’re continually changing jobs, so they’re more apt to be exposed to hazards that they’re not trained for. That’s a big piece of the problem: they don’t get the training.”

Occupational Health & Safety Magazine: National COSH Wins Harwood Grant - 9/12/2014

Funded entirely by the grant, the initiative will enable the national network of local committees on occupational safety and health to offer new and expanded training, provide technical assistance, and build capacity to reach at-risk workers. "Our goal is to reach out to America's most vulnerable workers," National COSH Executive Director Mary Vogel said. "OSHA has recognized the specific health and safety challenges faced by immigrant workers, low-literacy workers, young workers, temporary workers, and minorities. Our outreach will focus on overcoming barriers so that these workers have better access to the kind of training that saves lives and prevents injuries by creating healthy workplaces."

The Center for Public Integrity: Contractor, Hispanic worker deaths up in 2013, BLS says - 9/11/2014

“It’s a growing problem that temporary workers have injuries and fatalities higher than the rest of the population,” said Mary Vogel, executive director of the National Council on Occupational Safety and Health, a coalition of local and state worker safety groups. “That’s one reason we have to be really concerned about contract workers: they’re continually changing jobs, so they’re more apt to be exposed to hazards that they’re not trained for. That’s a big piece of the problem: they don’t get the training.”

Vogel also called for the BLS to release more detailed data on workplace fatalities, including the names of employers and the manner of death for the deceased workers. Having access to more comprehensive fatality information would help employers develop strategies to prevent workplace fatalities, she said.

Tonawanda News: Clean Air targets DuPont - 8/20/14

 TOWN OF TONAWANDA — Two local organizations called on the DuPont Yerkes plant in the town to improve its environmental controls and reduce its air emissions at a press conference Tuesday. 

 “Simply put, this is about protecting the health and well-being of Western New Yorkers,” said Liz Smith, of the Western New York Council on Occupational Safety and Health. “We believe the investment to protect workers and the public from unnecessary exposure is worth it.”

WGAU-AM, Athens, Georgia: Mary Vogel interview on "NewsMakers with Tim Bryant" - 8/19/14

Tim Bryant interviews National COSH Executive Director Mary Vogel on the recently announced OSHA fine for the producers of the film "Midnight Rider," in the wake of the preventable death of cinematographer Sarah Jones. Interview on our Soundcloud page, and full program at WGAU.

ISHN: Georgia film tragedy shows need for tougher penalties, says group -- 8/18/14 

Last week’s decision by OSHA to cite the producers of “Midnight Rider” for willful and serious violations shows that tougher penalties are needed to prevent workplace deaths, according to the National Council of Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH).

The Boston Globe: Temp workers, advocates lobby for better safeguards -- 8/7/14

...Marcy Goldstein Gelb, executive director of MassCOSH, a workers advocacy group, said her organization has suggested requiring temp agencies that transport workers to post information about their rights inside the vans.

“This is a very common and a growing thing,” Goldstein-Gelb said of workers unable to identify their employers. “In order for this law to fully work, we need to have those rights posted.”

Roll Call: The McDonald's Case: Matching Labor Law to Workplace Reality --8/6/14

National COSH Executive Director Mary Vogel writes in an opinion piece, "McDonald’s is now responsible for labor law violations committed in its restaurants — even if the store is owned by a franchisee."

San Jose Mercury News: Milpitas temps ask: Who's their real boss --7/15/14

National COSH Executive Director Mary Vogel writes in an opinion piece, "Who's your boss? For an increasing number of American workers, it's a hard question to answer. To cut costs and avoid liability, more companies are hiring workers on a temporary or contract basis. More than 17 million people, 12 percent of the U.S. workforce, are now employed as temps, contract or freelance workers." 

KPCC (89.3): 'Midnight Rider' indictment: Sarah Jones' death highlights safety on the set challenges --7/3/14

"The entertainment industry is very similar to a lot of other kinds of jobs — like construction jobs — that are moving from one place to another," said Dooley, who serves on a national advisory board to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Dooley’s nonprofit, the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, highlighted the death of Sarah Jones in its most recent annual report as an example of how common — and preventable — workplace fatalities are.

Newsworks: After recent wave of violence, Philly program aims to reduce workplace risks for teens --6/23/14

...{Damon} Walker, with the Philadelphia project on Occupational Safety and Health or PhilaPOSH, wonders what safety protocols were in place for checking deliveries and badges before any employee would unlock the station. He worries teen workers might not speak up.

"Teens are particularly vulnerable because, by nature, they're going to obey the people that are over them, whether it's a parent, teacher at school or supervisor on the job," said Walker.

The Boston Globe: Other states could learn from Mass. action to prevent hazards for floor workers --6/18/14

Letter to the editor from Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, Executive Director, Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safetey and Health.

New Jersey Star-Ledger: NJ Supreme Court must protect employee whistleblower law, labor and consumer groups say  --6/10/14

TRENTON — New Jersey's "whistleblower" law enacted nearly 30 years ago to protect workers who have reported employer wrongdoing is under attack by corporations, according to a coalition of labor, consumer and community group leaders that have asked the state Supreme Court to strengthen it.

The Conscientious Employee Protection Act suffered a blow when a 2008 appellate court decision involving an employee from NJ Transit found that workers whose jobs require they act as compliance officers or "watchdogs" did not have protection against retaliation under the law, members of the New Jersey Work Environment Council, made up of 27 civic, union and consumer organizations, said today.

ProPublica and The Boston Globe: Hummus Maker Warned of ‘Extreme Safety Risk’ Before Temp Worker’s Death --5/21/14

...Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, executive director of the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health, a workers' advocacy group, said some employers view the risk of workplace- safety penalties as "just a cost of doing business."

"We know there are employers out there doing this cost-benefit analysis," Goldstein-Gelb said. "If you're having an employee do life-threatening work, risking being killed, to not ensure that essential life-saving measures are in place is effectively negligent. And it is reckless and unconscionable."

The Pump Handle (on ScienceBlogs): Is California keeping people safe at work? Labor advocates say no -- 5/14/14

...“We have great laws on the books that get completely ignored,” said Worksafe executive director Gail Bateson. For example, Bateson explained, California’s limits for occupational exposure to hazardous chemicals – many of which are more protective than federal regulations – are not being monitored or enforced. According to Worksafe’s Dying at Work in California report, an estimated 451,500 people were injured or became sick on the job in California in 2012, an increase of more than 10,000 since 2011.

The Daily Free Press (Boston University): Workers rights groups strive for safer workplaces after workplace death report - 4/30/14

"'None of the fatalities were a random never-happened-before, never-happen-again event,' said Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, executive director of MassCOSH. 'We’re seeing enough similarities between the fatalities that we know there are things that must be done to prevent them.'”

Huffington Post: From Shirtwaist to Bangladesh, What's Next? - 4/29/14

"...These disturbing incidents illustrate just how vulnerable our workers are to serious occupational hazards that result in injuries and death. A report by the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health estimates that 'over 50,000 workers a year lose their lives to illnesses they contracted at work.' That adds up to 150 work-related deaths a day, costing the US economy an estimated $45.5 billion dollars a year. The same reports cites that '5,000 more [employees] die on their job site,' never again getting the chance to clock out and go home to their families.

GoLocalWorcester: Worcester Fire Fighters Dying at an Alarming Rate, Not From Fires - 4/29/14

"According to a report entitled 'Dying for Work in Massachusetts: The Loss of Life and Limb in Massachusetts Workplaces,' all three of Worcester’s reported deaths in 2013 were firefighters. Even more striking is that all three firefighters – as well as the nine total firefighters that died throughout Massachusetts – died because of work-related illnesses such as heart disease or cancer."

Casper Star-Tribune: Safety advocates call for increased fines, more inspectors as workplace safety deaths hit five-year high - 4/29/14

"...Dan Neal, executive director of the Equality State Policy Center, said higher fines and more inspectors are needed for Wyoming's numbers to improve. While the state has added inspectors, it still has only 13 people checking safety standards.  Seven of those are 'courtesy inspectors,' who are invited by employers to inspect their job sites and point out violations. Employers are not fined for being out of compliance in such instances and are instead required to correct the problem.

Higher fines are needed if real change is to be made in companies' behavior, Neal said. He likened the situation to a speeding ticket. Just as a person ticketed for speeding slows down afterward, higher fines change companies' behavior. Sinclair's refinery near Rawlins is an example, he said, noting that the Utah-based company has started working with the state after several hefty fines. The Equality State Policy Center released a report on the issue Monday to coincide with events in Cheyenne. 

Boston Herald: New union report claims deaths at work preventable - 4/28/14

“'Many of these fatalities could have been prevented with safety measures that are well known and essential,' said Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, executive director of the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health, which published the report with the Massachusetts AFL-CIO."

The Patriot Ledger: Service, report to highlight workplace deaths - 4/28/14

"'This report looks at both the human element about those who lost their lives and also looks beyond the headlines, which often view fatalities on the job as freak accidents,' said Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, executive director for MassCOSH."

Univision Boston: Abogan por mayor seguridad y salud en lugares de trabajo - 4/28/14

La manifestación convocada por la organización MassCosh pretende llamar la atención legislativa sobre el número de accidente laborales relacionados con trabajadores.

Annenberg TV News: Workers Memorial Week - 4/28/14

"The Council for Occupational Safety and Health (COSH) remembered workers who have died due to unsafe working conditions. This event Monday was part of Workers' Memorial Day, an international reminder of the deadly consequences of hazardous work conditions. Local residents held up photographs of loved ones who have been hurt or injured on the job."

The MetroWest Daily News: Memorial service shines light on workplace deaths - 4/28/14

"According to the “Dying for Work” report the AFL-CIO and MassCOSH released Sunday, the average fine imposed on a Massachusetts employer with OSHA violations resulting in a workplace death was $6,577 in 2013...

“'We need to pledge to redouble our efforts'” said Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, executive director of MassCOSH, the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health."

WBFO 88.7 (Buffalo NPR): Memorial event renews call for additional workplace safety guidelines - 4/28/14

"Laborers, community members and local officials commemorated the lives of workers who have died on the job from injury or illness Monday. Workers Memorial Day aims to shed light on existing on the job hazards.

"The event also calls upon elected officials and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to renew its promise of protecting workers. Western New York Council on Occupational Safety and Health or WNYCOSH Executive Director Germain Harnden says roughly 4,000 people die while on the job each year across the country. She says those death could have been prevented."

Wyoming Public Media: Workers Killed or Injured are Remembered - 4/28/14

"Worker safety advocates and family members gathered in Cheyenne Monday morning to commemorate Workers’ Memorial Day. The day remembers those who have been killed or injured while on the job. 

"Dan Neal with the Equality State Policy Center organized the event."

KGAB-AM 650: Workers Memorial Event Held Monday in Cheyenne - 4/28/14

A recent report issued by the Wyoming Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health recommends expanding OSHA’S enforcement capacity in Wyoming, adopting stricter rules to protect workers in the Oil and Gas industry and in construction from exposure to Silica dust, and jailing repeat violators of safety law. The report also calls on industry leaders to speak out for safer operations and to assure middle managers and all workers that safety comes first.

Public News Service: 35 Wyoming Workers Who Died on the Job Remembered Today - 4/28/14

A report released by the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health makes the case that almost every death and illness could be prevented. Council deputy director Jessica Martinez said there are more than 50,000 fatalities, when long-term occupational illnesses are included.

"In workplaces across this country, workers continue to be exposed to well-known hazards that are poorly regulated and inadequately controlled - hazards like silica and explosion hazards, like combustible dust," Martinez warned. - See more at: http://www.publicnewsservice.org/2014-04-28/livable-wages-working-famili...

"...A report released by the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health makes the case that almost every death and illness could be prevented. Council deputy director Jessica Martinez said there are more than 50,000 fatalities, when long-term occupational illnesses are included.

"'In workplaces across this country, workers continue to be exposed to well-known hazards that are poorly regulated and inadequately controlled - hazards like silica and explosion hazards, like combustible dust,' Martinez warned."

A recent report issued by the Wyoming Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health recommends expanding OSHA’S enforcement capacity in Wyoming, adopting stricter rules to protect workers in the Oil and Gas industry and in construction from exposure to Silica dust, and jailing repeat violators of safety law. The report also calls on industry leaders to speak out for safer operations and to assure middle managers and all workers that safety comes first.

Read More: Third Annual Worker's Memorial Event Held Monday | http://kgab.com/workers-memorial-event-held-monday-in-cheyenne/?trackbac...
A recent report issued by the Wyoming Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health recommends expanding OSHA’S enforcement capacity in Wyoming, adopting stricter rules to protect workers in the Oil and Gas industry and in construction from exposure to Silica dust, and jailing repeat violators of safety law. The report also calls on industry leaders to speak out for safer operations and to assure middle managers and all workers that safety comes first.

Read More: Third Annual Worker's Memorial Event Held Monday | http://kgab.com/workers-memorial-event-held-monday-in-cheyenne/?trackbac...

WAER 88.3, Syracuse Public Media: Limited Pay Just One Problem Facing Low-Wage Workers - 4/28/14

For low-wage workers in Syracuse… dangerous working conditions, high turnover and the inability to raise any concerns are part of their day-to-day life. SUNY Upstate's Occupational Health Clinical Center released a study Monday entitled 'Low-Wage Work in Syracuse: Worker Health in the New Economy.'"

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Film accident exposes safety weaknesses on the set -4/27/14

"Peter Dooley, a consultant for the National Council on Occupational Safety and Health, said OSHA tries but they are chronically understaffed and struggle to issue fines substantial enough to alter behavior.

"'At the day to day level, there is so much more that needs to be done to send a message,' Dooley said."

New York Daily News: Construction workers and their advocates say New York's Scaffold Law keeps jobsites safe and they want to see it preserved - 4/27/14

"Monday , just in time for International Workers Day, the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) will release a report on construction workplace deaths in New York State. It analyzes the 196 occupational fatalities in 2012. The report’s purpose is to make the case for the preservation of the Scaffold Law as it exists."

The Boston Globe: Mass. jobs report urges tougher safety rules - 4/27/14

"Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, a spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health, said many workplace deaths are preventable. She called for more stringent regulations.

“'When a worker dies, it’s often called a freak accident, meaning it has never happened before and is unlikely to happen again, so there’s no reason to investigate,' she said. 'But our report shows that there are patterns.'”

Knoxville News-Sentinel: Ceremony honors Knox area's fallen workers - 4/26/14

Report on Workers' Memorial Day Ceremony and release of "Tennessee Workers: Dying for a Job."

Philadelphia Inquirer: At memorial for workers, victims of building collapse recalled - 4/26/14

"Barbara Rahke, director of PHILAPOSH, an umbrella labor organization that focuses on workplace safety issues, said the thrift-store tragedy was the 'center stone' connecting occupational issues with protecting the safety of the public."

South Coast Today: Fish worker advocates push for 'code of conduct' for SouthCoast companies - 4/25/14

"The Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health will soon release its annual survey looking at workers killed on the job in Massachusetts in 2013. Nineteen percent of workers killed were immigrants, or nine of 48 total deaths. The average fine for an employer with OSHA violations resulting in a worker death was $6,577."

The Union Edge, Labor's Talk Radio: National COSH Deputy Director Jessica Martinez speaks to host Charles Showalter - 4/25/14

Discussion of Workers' Memorial Week and worker safety.

CNN en Español: Juan Carlos Lopez interviews National COSH Deputy Director Jessica Martinez - 4/24/14

Discussion of new National COSH "Preventable Deaths 2014" report, and the high fatality rate among Latino workers.

The Rick Smith Show: Interview with National COSH Consultant Peter Dooley - 4/24/14

Discussion of new National COSH "Preventable Deaths 2014" report, and how we can avoid deaths from falls, combustible dust, and other workplace hazards.

Arizona Daily Star: Higher penalties needed for unsafe workplaces, report says - 4/24/14

On the heels of revisions to Arizona’s occupational fall-protection standards, a national workplace safety report is calling for higher penalties for irresponsible employers and greater support for workers.

The report, released Wednesday by the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, highlights the disproportionate fatality rate for Hispanic workers, with 4.2 deaths per 100,000 Hispanic workers, compared with 3.7 deaths per 100,000 for all U.S. workers...

InsideOSHAOnline: Advocacy group: Worker death estimates show need for action - 4/24/14

A major safety and health advocacy group is coming out this week with a report that estimates more than 50,000 U.S. workers die each year from occupational injuries and illnesses, saying it shows an urgency to take further action on protecting workers. The National Council on Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH) says the report, "Preventable Death 2014," which was released in advance of Workers' Memorial Week, will combine data collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on fatal workplace injuries with projections from peer-reviewed data on fatalities resulting from workplace illnesses such as cancer, respiratory, cardiovascular and renal disease...

The Hollywood Reporter: 'Midnight Rider': Sarah Jones' Death Was Preventable, Hairstylist Says - 4/23/14

Midnight Rider hairstylist Joyce Gilliard, who was injured by the same train that struck and killed camera assistant Sarah Jones, says she thinks the tragedy, which also left several other staffers injured, could have been prevented.

"This tragedy could have been prevented if safety preventions and protocols were met and people who were in charge made conscious decisions to ensure we were safe," she said, speaking as a safety advocate on a conference call to mark the release of a report about workplace deaths and how they can be prevented...

The Hollywood Reporter: 'Midnight Rider' Accident Highlighted in 'Preventable Deaths' Workplace Study - 4/23/14

Midnight Rider camera assistant Sarah Jones was just one of the more than 50,000 U.S. workers who died last year due to occupational injuries and illnesses, according to a report from the National Council on Occupational Safety and Health.

Jones' death is listed as one of seven case studies in the report "Preventable Deaths 2014," which argues that all of these fatalities could have been prevented, combining data collected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics on fatal workplace injuries with protections from peer-reviewed data on fatalities resulting from workplace illnesses...

Safety + Health: National COSH: Workplace deaths 'a wake-up call' - 4/23/14

Most U.S. workplace deaths are preventable, and several approaches can be taken to reduce exposures to hazardous conditions, suggests a new report from the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health.

Released April 23 in conjunction with Workers Memorial Week of Action, the report includes case studies of workers who died on the job during the past two years; an overview of the dangers of crystalline silica; and recommendations geared toward employers, federal OSHA and Congress on actions to help reduce workplace hazards...

WyoFile: Wyoming will remember its fallen workers - 4/22/14

"The ESPC’s Wyoming Coalition on Safety and Health (WYCOSH), which includes the AFL-CIO and other unions, the Wyoming Trial Lawyers Association and the Wyoming Association of Churches, recommends the Legislature increase state fines for serious safety violations and provide funds to hire more inspectors."

The Boston Globe: Worker centers pose a threat only to exploitative employers - 1/24/14

Letter to the Editor by Josefina Luna, President, MassCOSH Worker Center

AS PRESIDENT of a worker center in Boston, I was thrilled to see a reporter recognize the growing role that these centers play in protecting workers from wage theft, dangerous jobs, and other forms of labor abuse (“Worker advocacy groups gain clout, clash with businesses,” Business, Jan. 17). However, I was surprised to see that the reporter only quoted large business associations that criticized worker centers.

I’d like to offer another perspective. Helping workers to achieve their hard-earned wages and employment free from injuries and abuse is a threat to no one but an exploitative employer. As the state’s task force on the underground economy noted, stopping wage theft and workers’ compensation fraud levels the playing field for law-abiding employers and ensures that the state and federal government receives the taxes needed for essential services.

Counter to the claims of business associations, worker centers are nonprofit organizations and are required to keep diligent financial records, be independently audited, and report financial statements to the federal government.

The success of a business in a well-developed society doesn’t have to come at the cost of poverty caused by stolen wages and corrupt and exploitative practices.

In These Times: Mistakes of West, Texas Repeated In West Virginia - 1/16/14

“Nobody likes to hear, ‘I told you so,’ but in the case of last week’s chemical leak in West Virginia—responsible for hundreds of thousands of residents being left for days without access to clean water—it is impossible not to point fingers,” Tom O’Connor, executive director of the nonprofit National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, wrote in an email to Working In These Times as news of the chemical spill unfolded.

Safety + Health Magazine: Response workers need more protection from the next 9/11, report says - 1/2/14

The nation is not prepared to protect emergency response workers’ safety and health should another 9/11-scale disaster occur, according to a report from the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health.

ProPublica: How to improve temp worker safety - 12/27/13

In November, the National Staffing Workers Alliance and the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health published a list of 15 recommendations. One idea was for OSHA to target high-hazard industries like warehousing and recycling that use a lot of temp workers and to identify the biggest temp agencies in those sectors to look for repeat offenders having problems at multiple worksites. Another proposal would have OSHA fine temp agencies for any violations they find at a company to which it has sent workers.

“The temp agency needs to be held accountable,” said Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, director of the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health.

New Jersey Star-Ledger: Amazon.com worker's death sheds much-needed light on worker safety: Opinion - 12/27/13

By Marien Casillas Pabellon and John Pajak

We may not know for several months exactly how a temporary worker died this month at Amazon.com’s distribution center in Avenel, but there is already a lot we know about how companies like Amazon exploit temps and too often fail to protect them from physical danger.

Ronald Smith, a father of four and grandfather of seven, was killed when he was crushed by equipment in the Avenel center.

Bloomberg BNA: Worker Advocates Aim at State Legislatures to Strengthen Safety Laws - 12/19/13

There are opportunities for progress among state and municipal governments that are lacking at the national level, where legislative movement can be much more difficult, they said.

The safety advocates convened a strategy session on model legislation during the National Worker Safety and Health Conference. Tom O’Connor, executive director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, asked attendees at the session for help picking among priorities and setting the agenda for his organization. Speakers described recent action at the state and local levels as providing lessons for future efforts.

IndyBay.org: David Michaels of OSHA and John Howard Of NIOSH Speak At National COSH Conference - 12/15/13

David Michaels Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Occupational Health and Safety Administration OSHA and John Howard, director of the National Institute of Health NIOSH both spoke and took questions at the 2013 National Worker Safety and Health conference that was held on December 11, 2013 in Baltimore, Maryland.

They were also questioned about the retaliation against health and safety whistleblowers as well as what they are doing about the dangers of biotechnology and nanotechnology for workers.

Bloomberg BNA: Political Leaders Should Care as Much About Workers as Chickens, OSHA’s Michaels Says - 12/13/13

Occupational Safety and Health Administration chief David Michaels asked Dec. 11 a crowd of more than 200 health and safety specialists, advocates, and union officials and members for help identifying which workplaces the agency should inspect.

"From the point of view of OSHA, we look to you as our closest allies," Michaels said during an address at the National Worker Safety and Health Conference in Baltimore. "You are, on a daily basis, working with workers we haven’t reached to make sure they’re safe."

In These Times: A new day, a new danger: Temporary workers face safety hazards at work - 12/1/13

With this in mind, the National Council on Occupational Safety and Health, an independent advocacy organization, together with various labor and safety groups, recently issued suggested guidelines to OSHA, emphasizing that temporary workers are frequently thrust into jobs that demand comprehensive safety training but given little support. The group called on the agency to issue rules that clearly delineate the responsibilities of "host employers"—the corporations using the workers supplied by labor brokers—and temporary staffing agencies that do the hiring and to establish clear standards for workplace-safety training. Another recommendation was to establish a more comprehensive workplace inspection process and do outreach to inform workers about their right to report safety problems. OSHA, for its part, has announced plans to ramp up its regulatory action in the temp industry.

ABC11 (WTVD): North Carolina worker safety fines go uncollected - 11/14/13

"I think for it to really have an impact on workplace safety, the program's penalty structure needs to be fundamentally overhauled," said Tom O'Connor, Executive Director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health - a worker advocacy group based in Raleigh.

O'Connor says fines are too low to be a deterrent.

"It's sort of a sad comment if you had to tell the family member of somebody who was killed on the job ... in North Carolina that we think your loved ones life was only worth $5,000 or whatever it is," he said. "We'd like to see a little more balance, a little more value given to the lives of the workers."

Bloomberg BNA: Worker advocates meet with Michaels, urge tougher protections for temp workers - 11/7/13

During the meeting, Michaels was generally receptive to the recommendations and engaged the advocates in a discussion about challenges OSHA faces in protecting temporary workers, Tom O'Connor, executive director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, said during a Nov. 4 conference call with reporters.

Canadian Occupational Safety: Worker safety groups release recommendations on temporary worker safety - 11/7/13

Temporary workers are even more vulnerable to on-the-job hazards than permanent employees, said Tom O’Connor, executive director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health. Many receive insufficient training or are inexperienced with how to protect themselves on the job site, but are reluctant to mention that to employers, he said.

"At the same time, temporary workers are employed in some of the country’s most hazardous jobs, including waste recycling, fish processing and construction. Unfortunately, this has led to several temporary workers being killed on the job in recent months.”

Bloomberg BNA: After Extended OMB Review, OSHA Cut Silica Rule Price Tag By Half, Lowered Benefits - 11/7/13

Tom O'Connor, executive director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, told Bloomberg BNA Nov. 4 that he's not surprised that the price tag varied so greatly between versions, because calculating the costs involves so much guess work.

But O'Connor maintained that it was political pressure not to release any substantial regulations rather than conducting additional analyses that led to the silica proposal being delayed at by two and a half years.

Occupational Health & Safety: OSHA Urged to Launch Temp Worker Emphasis Program - 11/5/13

"Temporary workers are even more vulnerable to on-the-job hazards than permanent employees. Many receive insufficient training or are inexperienced with how to protect themselves on the job site, but are reluctant to mention that to employers so that they aren't replaced," O'Connor said. "At the same time, temporary workers are employed in some of the country's most hazardous jobs, including waste recycling, fish processing, and construction. Unfortunately, this has led to several temporary workers being killed on the job in recent months."

Safety + Health Magazine: Safety coalition issues temp worker safety recommendations - 11/4/13

A coalition of workplace safety groups has released a set of recommendations for OSHA to help improve safety for temporary workers.

The coalition is made up of APHA, the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, and the National Staffing Workers Alliance.

 

TruthOut: The Price of Fashion - 10/21/13

Commentary by Tom O'Connor:

The price of fashion is on the rise as the death toll in Bangladesh’s garment factories grows.

Another fire in another garment factory – this one about 25 miles from the garment factory whose April collapse killed more than 1,100 workers – took the lives of at least 10 more workers on Tuesday, October 8, 2013.

Most of the workers who perished in this week’s fire were so badly burned they could not be identified. Approximately 50 other workers were injured in the fire, which took firefighters nearly 10 hours to overcome.

To readers who think these tragedies have nothing to do with American consumers – think again. The price of fashion is always close to home.

South Jersey Times: Opinion: Toxic brews at chemical plants could trigger another Paulsboro-like incident - 10/20/13

By Natasha Lavard and Debra McFadden, Assistant Director of the NJ Work Environment Council

A highly toxic cloud of cancer-causing chemicals moves into neighborhoods where local residents live and work. People are sent to the hospital in droves. More have to evacuate their homes. Parents are told not to let their children out of the house to go to school. Businesses are shut down.

It may sound like a bad Hollywood movie, but this worst-case scenario happened lastNovember in Paulsboro, when a train carrying more than 12 tons of vinyl chloride derailed and spilled its hazardous load. The full impact of the exposure people suffered may not be known for years.

What we do know is that in the State of New Jersey, there are 90 facilities with large enough amounts of highly hazardous chemicals to cause similar — or worse — disasters to the one that occurred in Paulsboro. All it would take would be a major toxic release, superstorm or terrorist attack to put millions of people in danger in southern New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

New Jersey Star-Ledger: Will Gov. Chris Christie act to prevent a toxic disaster?: Opinion - 10/13/13

By John Pajak, president of the New Jersey Work Environment Council

"It can’t happen here.” That’s what most of us think when we hear about toxic chemical disasters. It’s a comforting thought — except that if you live in New Jersey, it unfortunately is just not true.

Take the people who live in Paulsboro. Last November, without warning, a cloud of highly toxic vinyl chloride filled the air for miles when a train transporting 23,000 pounds of it derailed.

Exposure to vinyl chloride can cause cancer and mutations in a person’s DNA.

EHS Today: OSHA Fines West Fertilizer $118,300 for Explosion that Killed 15, injured 200 - 10/10/13

Tom O’Connor, executive director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, commented, “In issuing a strong fine against the parent company of the West, Texas, fertilizer storage facility whose April explosion killed 15 workers, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sends a message that neglecting worker safety – particularly around the handling of highly toxic chemicals – will not be tolerated. But the West incident also pointed to many direly needed reforms.”

EHS Today: Families of Workplace Fatality Victims Struggle to Pay Funeral Costs - 10/9/13

“We hear stories of husbands, wives, fathers and mothers, who on a moment’s notice are suddenly thrust in the position of needing to find several thousand dollars to ensure that they can bury their family member,” testified Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, executive director of the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health. “This bill will ensure that no family has to shoulder the financial burden of a burial. The increase adds up to very little for the workers’ compensation insurance system – and will mean a huge difference for families in mourning across the commonwealth.”

NJToday.com: Free Class Shows Workers and Homeowners How to Deal With Mold After Sandy - 10/4/13

That’s why the New Jersey Work Environment Council is offering free training classes targeted for workers, volunteers and homeowners.

“The takeaway for all of this is that we want people to do the work that they’re doing with clean-up and removal and rebuilding, safely,” said New Jersey Work Environment Council Communications Coordinator Janice Selinger.

The Boston Globe: Let's get beyond the management vs. labor approach - 9/30/13

Letter by Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, MassCOSH

After seeing [Boston mayoral candidate] Marty Walsh repeatedly questioned about his ability to be both pro-labor and a mayor who can effectively negotiate with municipal employees (“Path carries Walsh closer to his dream,” Sept. 25), I felt compelled to rebut the notion that this is a contradiction. As executive director of an underfunded agency, I am responsible for ensuring that our organization remains fiscally sound so that we can continue to achieve our mission.

Our unionized staff see the big picture as well. They also know that their ability to be gainfully employed depends upon our ability to manage the budget well. At the same time, the rest of our management team and I are well aware of the need to provide decent pay and benefits to ensure that staff can live a quality life, to maintain morale, and, frankly, because it’s the right thing to do. We achieve this by maximizing transparency so that staff and management are well aware of our fiscal circumstances and by engaging in a productive and open dialogue about the best way to maximize our scarce resources.

Employing a management vs. labor approach hasn’t worked so well in the past, so how about we put that business model to rest?

The New York Times: Improving Respirator Masks to Put Fresh Air in Reach - 9/10/13

“There have been clear advances in design and certification” of equipment used in response to attacks, said David M. Newman, an industrial hygienist with the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health. But he added, “In terms of the respirators most commonly used on a day-to-day basis and most commonly used in disaster response, I don’t see any significant changes on the ground yet.”

Occupational Health and Safety: OSHA Proposes Lower PEL for Crystalline Silica - 8/23/13

Tom O'Connor, executive director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH), welcomed the rule, saying in a statement that the proposed construction standard suggests specific control methods, such as wet cutting and ventilation in certain situations. "America's workers could not wait any longer for the White House to issue a rule to protect them from over-exposure to silica dust," he said. "When this rule goes into effect, hundreds of thousands of workers will benefit from increased protections from entirely preventable silica-related disease. Workers in industries exposed to silica dust include some of the country's most vulnerable workers. Low-wage immigrant workers and temporary workers are disproportionally represented in the industries with silica exposure -- and are the most vulnerable to retaliation should they report potential hazards, injuries or illnesses. This new rule will help to pull them out of the shadows and make them safer at work. Everyone, regardless of immigration status, deserves a safe workplace."

The Pump Handle: Really? Industry group launches campaign against worker centers, low-wage workers - 8/16/13

Tom O’Connor, executive director of National COSH, told me he thinks the anti-worker center campaign will ultimately backfire.

“Far from being high-paid union operatives, the people working at these worker centers are just people dedicated to getting a fair deal, fair wages and safe working conditions for workers, and I don’t think they have anything to fear from having more light shed on them,” O’Connor said. “In fact, I think it might help them.”

Bloomberg BNA: Wal-Mart Agrees to Upgrade Safety Policies at 2,900 Stores to Settle OSHA Charges - 8/8/13

While calling the deal progress, National Council for Occupational Safety and Health Executive Director Tom O'Connor marked the occasion by pointing out other concerns with the giant retailer.

“From its overreliance on temporary labor to its failure to prevent workplace violence or sign an international labor accord to improve working conditions in Bangladesh, Wal-Mart continues to jeopardize workers' safety both here and abroad,” O'Connor said.

EHS Today: Wal-Mart Agrees to Improve Workplace Safety and Health in 2,857 Stores - 8/7/13

“While this settlement with the Labor Department is progress, there are still several areas we’re concerned about regarding health and safety among Wal-Mart workers and suppliers,” said Tom O’Connor, executive director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH). “From its overreliance on temporary labor to its failure to prevent workplace violence or sign an international labor accord to improve working conditions in Bangladesh, Wal-Mart continues to jeopardize workers’ safety both here and abroad.”

In These Times: Obama Issues Much-Needed Executive Order on Chemical Safety - But Is It Enough? - 8/1/13

“To adequately respond to the dangers posed by chemical facilities and other dangerous workplaces, further federal regulatory action is needed,” says Tom O’Connor, Executive Director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health. 

O'Connor pointed to a series of recommendations from the Chemical Safety Board calling on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration [OSHA] to adopt new rules to prevent workplace accidents. Just last week, the Chemical Safety Board, frustrated with the slow pace of OSHA rulemaking, took the unprecedented step of designating a “most wanted chemical safety improvement." The first item on the list is better regulations for combustible dust, something which the Chemical Safety Board first asked OSHA to implement in 2002.

Public News Service: New Partnership Aims to Reduce Workplace Fatality Rate - 7/31/13

Everyone should arrive home safely at the end of the workday. That's the premise as the Wyoming Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health joins the National Council - called NCOSH.

Wyoming has long had a deplorable job fatality rate, said NCOSH executive director Tom O'Connor, and this new partnership will reinforce the right to a safe workplace.

Dan Neal, executive director of the Equality State Policy Center, said state leaders have taken note of the worker death and injury rate, adding that this project will help spread the word to employees.

In These Times: Disaster Unpreparedness: Wildfire Tragedy Sheds Light on Dangerous Budget Gaps - 7/8/13

Tom O’Connor, executive director of the National Council for Occupational Safety & Health, says that the government can truly honor firefighters through systemic thinking, not accolades. "There's a tendency to sort of romanticize the macho culture of the firefighters and to think, 'Well, hey, there's a tough guy, they can do anything,' ” he says, “but not to think, they're workers like anybody else. And what is it, systemically, that needs to be done, to ensure their safety?"

The Indianapolis Star: Grain bin deaths are preventable, but not enough precautions are taken - 6/27/13

By Tom O'Connor: The recent deaths of two workers in Indiana grain bins, at the Union Mills Co-op and in Veedersburg, are even more tragic because they could have been prevented.

In These Times: Why Safer Food Workers Mean Safer Food - 6/14/13

Tom O’Connor, executive director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, says the safety implications for the food produced in these plants should concern everyone. "It stands to reason that in a workplace where there's a high level of pressure on workers to work as fast and to not report hazards, the same thing can happen in terms of quality control or food quality."

IndyWeek: New AFL-CIO report evaluates worker health and safety - 5/20/13

Latinos accounted for about 28 percent of workplace fatalities in 2011—2012, but they make up about 9 percent of the state’s population, notes a recent report on North Carolina worker fatality by the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (NCOSH).

In These Times: In Wake of West, Texas Explosion, Safety Advocates Recommend Harsher Fines - 5/9/13

Such small fines are all too common, according to a new report released by the non-profit National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (COSH), entitled 2013: Preventable Deaths: The Tragedy of Workplace Fatalities. The report shows that the average fine for serious safety violations under federal OSHA law is a mere $1,680 dollars. After factoring in OSHA’s severely limited resources--under its current budget OSHA would need 129 years to inspect every workplace in the country--many employers are willing to take the risk that they may have to pay small fines, as in the case of Orestes Martinez’s death.

Canton Daily Ledger: West Texas accident: For all intents and purposes... - 5/9/13

“This tragic explosion points to the need for more resources allocated to OSHA,” said Tom O’Connor of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health. “With adequate funding for more OSHA inspectors, more potentially dangerous sites can be inspected and hazards abated.”

Las Vegas City Life: Five questions about worker safety and Nevada's OSHA woes - 5/9/13

According to Tom O’Conner, executive director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, a coalition of labor unions, health and technical professionals, “Nevada OSHA’s problems with filling inspector positions and retaining an adequate number of those positions pose a very real risk to the state’s workers. Even when OSHA offices around the country are ‘fully’ staffed at the bare-bones levels required by federal OSHA, they are still vastly undermanned in their efforts to reach the huge number of workplaces they are tasked with overseeing. When a state like Nevada is so understaffed that they can only perform a small number of planned inspections every year, that means that unscrupulous employers know that they are very unlikely to ever see an OSHA inspector.

“As one commentator noted recently, an employer is, on average, as likely to see an OSHA inspector as often as they see Haley’s comet. So, yes, we do believe that Nevada OSHA’s staffing problems pose a real danger of more workplace injuries and deaths in the state.”

KJZZ: New federal study critical of Arizona workplace safety inspectors - 5/1/13

Tom O’Connor is executive director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, a non-profit labor advocacy group. He said Arizona inspectors also cannot keep up with the demanding workload.

“That means that workers are not protected. Employers know that they are about as likely to see an OSHA inspector as they are to see Haley’s comet on average…once every thirty years or something," O'Connor said.

Arizona Daily Star: GAO: High turnover among AZ safety agents - 5/1/13

It is hard to know how many inspectors Arizona needs in order to inspect each business within a reasonable amount of time, but the number is far higher than the total now, said Tom O'Connor, executive director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health.

"This has been a problem throughout the history of OSHA, particularly at the state level," he said.

AARP Blog: Is Your Job Killing You … Literally? - 5/1/13

“The Texas plant explosion is the kind of catastrophe that really grabs the public’s attention,” Tom O’Connor, executive director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, told the Center. “But that’s about the same number of people who die every day in the United States in ways that are much quieter and hidden from public view. … Looking through the BLS data, you see some really simple, easily preventable causes of death: people falling off roofs, people dying in trench cave-ins, people falling off ladders, people dying in confined spaces.”

GIMBY.org: West, Texas fertilizer plant failed to disclose risks to federal regulators - 5/1/13

"The more we learn about the situation, the more complex it seems to become," says Tom O'Connor, executive director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, a federation of local and state groups advocating worker safety. "There are a lot of different regulatory agencies that come into play — or more accurately, didn’t come into play — that probably should have."

ABC News: Workplace Deaths Increase for Hispanics and Blacks - 4/30/13

Overall, more than 4,600 workers were killed on the job in 2011 down from nearly 4,700 fatalities in 2010. Most deaths occurred in construction, transportation and warehouse jobs, according to an analysis by the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (COSH).

Although the total number of workplace fatalities has steadily declined from a high of more than 6,600 deaths in 1994, Tom, O'Connor, executive director of National COSH, said those deaths could be avoided.

"Each worker killed is a tragic loss to the community of family, friends and co-workers – and the worst part is, these deaths were largely preventable," O'Connor said in a statement.

ThinkProgress: North Carolina Under-Reported Worker Deaths And Ignored Multiple Workplace Safety Violations - 4/30/13

The number of North Carolinians who died at work in 2012 is likely more than three times the original number reported by the state Labor Department. While the state estimated 35 worker fatalities last year, the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (COSH) put the number at 150.

Released in the wake of the deadly Texas fertilizer plant explosion enabled by massive regulatory failure on the state and federal levels, COSH’s report holds North Carolina’s weak workplace regulations accountable for these 150 deaths. While the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration covers workplace safety in about half the states, North Carolina uses a far more lenient state program.

The Charlotte Observer: NC job deaths undercounted, study finds - 4/29/13

While the N.C. Department of Labor reported that just 35 workers were killed on the job in 2012, the report by the National Council on Occupational Safety and Health estimates that the true number is more than three times higher.

That’s chiefly because the state doesn’t count deaths due to vehicle accidents and workplace violence, or fatalities among the self-employed.

“Clearly the absolute number of deaths has gone down…,” said NCOSH Executive Director Tom O’Connor, who wrote the report. “But there are still way too many people dying in easily preventable deaths.”

NPR: On-The-Job Deaths Continue At Steady, Grim Pace - 4/26/13

"These deaths were largely preventable," says Tom O'Connor, executive director of National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (COSH), an advocacy group formed by organized labor and workers safety advocates. "Simply by following proven safety practices and complying with [Occupational Safety and Health Administration] standards, many of these more than 4,600 deaths could have been avoided."

EHS Today: Workers’ Memorial Day: Report Urges Safety Reforms to End Preventable Deaths - 4/26/13

In a report detailing the personal stories of workers who lost their lives on the job in recent years, The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH) pairs personal stories with government data to highlight the need for worker health and safety reforms.

The Center for Public Integrity: Workplace Deaths Up Slightly in 2011 - 4/25/13

“The Texas plant explosion is the kind of catastrophe that really grabs the public’s attention,” said Tom O’Connor, executive director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, an umbrella organization for a network of nonprofit groups around the country. “But that’s about the same number of people who die every day in the U.S., in ways that are much quieter and hidden from public view.”

The Rick Smith Show: Why was the President so timid in Texas? - 4/25/13

Tom O'Connor, executive director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, discusses.

In These Times: Texas Explosion: Gov't Shared Info for Anti-Terrorism, But Not Workplace Safety - 4/25/13

“Workplace incidents cause far more deaths every year in the U.S.—some 13 a day—than terrorist acts, yet our government agencies spend untold millions on terrorism prevention, while largely ignoring the risks of industrial catastrophes,” says National Council for Occupational Safety and Health Executive Director Tom O’Connor. “I would hope that the West Fertilizer plant explosion will cause us to reconsider those priorities.”

La Opinion: Mide los riesgos en el empleo - 4/25/13

"La mayoría de los que sufren esos incidentes son trabajadores inmigrantes", apuntó Shirley Alvarado, directora de SoCalCOSH. "En Los Ángeles ellos componen más de la mitad de la fuerza laboral y son los que realizan los trabajos más peligrosos y peor pagados. Pero no reportan las malas condiciones laborales por temor a ser deportados", explicó.

WyoFile: Wyoming should recognize Workers Memorial Day - 4/25/13

“Our position here is we think the culture will never really change until we move toward the MSHA approach, which is to put more inspectors on the ground. … (Wyoming) OSHA, they need more resources,” said Dan Neal, executive director of the Equality State Policy Center, which represents some 30 organizations, including several unions.

Neal was a speaker in a recent conference call for the press, organized by the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (NCOSH). This week, NCOSH released a new report, “Preventable Deaths: The Tragedy of Workplace Fatalities,” identifying a general failure to meet existing workplace safety rules and regulations as the primary cause for the 4,600 workers killed on the job nationwide in 2011.

“Each worker killed is a tragic loss to the community of family, friends and co-workers – and the worst part is, these deaths were largely preventable,” Tom O’Connor, executive director of National COSH, said in a press statement. “Simply by following proven safety practices and complying with OSHA standards, many of these more than 4,600 deaths could have been avoided. But as companies decry regulations and emphasize profits over safety, workers pay the ultimate price.”

Wyoming Tribune Eagle: Groups call to enhance workplace safety - 4/24/13

The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health released a report on Tuesday that includes a recommendation for states to adopt stricter workplace safety regulations.

Tom O’Connor, executive director of the group, said many of the 4,600 worker deaths that were reported nationwide in 2011 were preventable.

He said states that are reliant on energy jobs are especially vulnerable to avoidable accidents.

“The booming energy industry has created a lot of jobs. But it also created intense pressure for production that often leads to unsafe working conditions,” he said.

TruthDig: Terror in the West, Texas, Night - 4/24/13

April 28 is Workers’ Memorial Day, commemorating the 4,500 workers who die on the job annually in the U.S. Thirteen workers, on average, go to work each day and never come home. Tom O’Connor, executive director of National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, said, “As companies decry regulations and emphasize profits over safety, workers pay the ultimate price.”

WBAI Radio: Preventable Deaths: The Texas Explosion and the Tragedy of Workplace Fatalities - 4/22/13

Tom O'Connor joins the show to discuss the latest work place tragedy, the explosion last Wednesday at Texas’ chemical and fertilizer plant that has left at least 14 people dead and more that 160 injured. In the last year, on average 4,500 people died in workplace accidents. But, while the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has jurisdiction over 7 million workplaces the U.S. spent only $558 million a year on OSHA, as increasing numbers of workers died. With a gutted agency it’s not uncommon for some companies to go years without inspection. The Texas plant hadn’t been inspected since 1985 and even then despite being cited for serious violations for storage of anhydrous ammonia was fined a mere $30.

CropLife: West Fertilizer Disaster Could Mean Trouble for Entire Industry - 4/22/13

Not surprisingly, the calls for tighter regulations on fertilizer plants are now making the rounds in the popular press. “This tragic explosion points to the need for stricter regulations of plants that store and use large quantities of hazardous chemicals,” said Tom O’Connor of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health in an interview with NBC. “We need a system in which facilities that are inherently dangerous are required to develop detailed disaster prevention plans before they’re allowed to operate.”

NBC News: Texas fertilizer plant also stored explosive chemical used in Oklahoma City bomb - 4/19/13

"Last night’s tragic explosion points to the need for stricter regulations of plants that store and use large quantities of hazardous chemicals," said a statement from Tom O’Connor, executive director of a union safety group, the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health. "We need a system in which facilities that are inherently dangerous are required to develop detailed disaster prevention plans before they’re allowed to operate."

LiveScience/Discovery News: Could your town explode? - 4/19/13

The recent "tragic explosion points to the need for stricter regulations of plants that store and use large quantities of hazardous chemicals," Tom O'Connor of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health told NBC.

"We need a system in which facilities that are inherently dangerous are required to develop detailed disaster prevention plans before they're allowed to operate," O'Connor said.

In These Times: Major workplace safety issues at non-union Texas fertilizer plant - 4/18/13

Despite the dangers posed by the plant evident in the explosion, in 2006 the company told the EPA that the plant posed no risk of explosion. As Tom O'Connor, Executive Director of the National Council on Occupational Safety and Health told In These Times earlier today, "It looks like in the plant's application for a permit, it checked 'no' in the box asking whether it was a fire or explosion hazard." At a minimum, someone at the EPA ought to be looking a little more carefully at these permits to verify their accuracy. Any plant with a large volume of explosive chemicals is clearly a fire/explosion hazard.

The Charleston Gazette: Tom O'Connor: Upper Big Branch miners deserve congressional action - 4/11/13

It has been three years since 29 miners perished in a Raleigh County mine explosion, and what do we have to show for it? Not much.

In the wake of the Upper Big Branch disaster, Congress has yet to enact legislation that would protect miners who plunge into the depths of the Earth -- and it's the miners who are suffering the consequences.

EHS Today: Explosion at Bartlett Grain Co. Flour Mill Repeat Experience for Company - 4/10/13

“Combustible dust is known to be a huge explosion hazard, yet safety regulators have done little to protect workers from exposure to it,” said Tom O’Connor, executive director of the National Council of Occupational Safety and Health, a federation of local and statewide organizations; a private, non-profit coalition of labor unions, health and technical professionals, and others interested in promoting and advocating for worker health and safety. “OSHA has been sitting on a combustible dust standard since 2009. Given the prevalence of explosions caused by combustible dust, the agency should promulgate a rule that protects workers from it immediately.”

WSOC TV: Dust potential factor in Statesville flour mill explosion (with video) - 4/9/13

Tom O'Connor is the executive director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, a nonprofit that advocates for more safe and healthy work environments. 

The cause of the explosion still hasn't been determined, but O'Connor said he is worried it could have been combustible flour dust.

"A plant like a flour mill may not seem like a dangerous place, but those kinds of facilities, where there can be a large amount of dust, is easily explosive if there's any kind of electric spark," said O'Connor.

WCNC: Safety Council: Statesville flour mill explosion preventable - 4/9/13

The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health says the explosion at the Bartlett Milling Company in Statesville over the weekend is "even more tragic because it appears to have been entirely preventable."

Cal/OSHA Reporter: Controversial Study Says Hotel Housekeeping is Not an MSD Threat - 4/5/13

“Just because NIOSH says there shouldn’t be a problem doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem,” commented Dorothy [Wigmore], occupational health specialist for Worksafe. 

Jessica Martinez, assistant director for the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, based in Los Angeles, urged Cal/OSHA to “lead the nation” with a standard for hotel housekeepers. 

The New York Times: Rules on Worker Health - 4/6/13

By Tom O'Connor: “As OSHA Emphasizes Safety, Long-Term Health Risks Fester” (front page, March 31) highlights a very real and rarely discussed issue in worker safety: occupational illness.

While nearly 5,000 workers die on the job each year, an estimated 50,000 more develop an occupational illness. Yet despite this toll, the federal government sits on rules that could help prevent workers from developing occupational illnesses. A proposed rule that would prevent workers from being exposed to dangerous levels of silica dust on the job has remained mired at the Office of Management and Budget for more than two years 

Additionally, the article points to the critical importance of strict oversight by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration to ensure that state OSHA programs be “at least as effective” as federal OSHA, as required by law. In the case depicted, North Carolina OSHA — not the federal agency — failed the workers.

ISHN: Texas safety culture puts profits above safety, says National COSH - 2/21/13

Texas Governor Rick Perry’s recent assertion that his state’s high on-the-job fatality rate is due to the dangerous nature of the energy industry is being contradicted by the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (COSH).

The Charleston Gazette: Tomblin mine safety rules delayed again - 2/21/13

"Yes, after a slew of on-the-job fatalities in any industry, it is beneficial to take time to review safety standards to prevent further injury, but governor Tomblin's work doesn't stop there," said Tom O'Connor, a spokesman for the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health.

"What is really needed is for the Tomblin administration to take action on the critically important mining safety measures mandated by the 2012 legislation," O'Connor said. "What is not needed is further watering down of the rules under pressure from the mining industry.

"The rules are already overdue, and miners clearly are paying the price, as we have seen with the latest series of deaths."

The Charleston Gazette: Two years old, Silica Rule remains mired at OIRA - 2/14/13

By: Tom O'Connor

Two years. 730 days. Thousands of workers' lives. However you choose to look at it, that's how long the proposed Occupational Exposure to Crystalline Silica rule has been sitting at the Office of Management and Budget's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). OIRA is supposed to review proposed rules within 90 days.

Facility Safety Management Magazine: BP Settles Deepwater Horizon Case for $4.5 Billion - 11/21/12

Though it is rare for the U.S. Department of Justice to impose criminal sanctions on an employer, the settlement shows the need for a stronger OSH Act that allows for more criminal sanctions on negligent employers, said Tom O´Connor, executive director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health.

Unlike violations of federal environmental laws, employer misconduct leading to a worker´s death can only be prosecuted as a misdemeanor under the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act. As a result, few cases are referred to the Department of Justice and even fewer are prosecuted. This is a gross injustice to the families of those people who lose their lives on the job due to employer negligence or misconduct, said O’Connor.

AFL-CIO Now: It's a Safe Turkey This Year, But Next Year? - 11/20/12

The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (COSH) says the new rule not only threatens food safety, but:

It puts workers’ safety on the line. Already, 59 percent of poultry workers develop carpal tunnel and other repetitive motion injuries. Increasing the line speed to 175 birds a minute will undoubtedly take a toll on the workers.

EHS Today: One Worker Killed, Another Feared Dead in Gulf Coast Oil Rig Explosion - 11/19/12

This incident occurred only a day after BP reached a $4.5 billion settlement for its own 2010 catastrophic oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico. According to the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (COSH), this latest incident should be a wake-up call for an industry that has demonstrated a culture valuing production over safety.

“We call on the leaders of the oil and gas industry to take all necessary measures to ensure that workers are encouraged to report safety hazards, and that no one is disciplined for expressing their concerns about safety on the job,” said Tom O’Connor, executive director of COSH. “Furthermore, U.S. regulators should adopt the approach taken by the U.K. and Norway, in which oil producers are required to prepare detailed analyses and plans prior to obtaining drilling permits.”

Argus Media: US Gulf platform fire, injuries under investigation - 11/16/12

“For years, the oil and gas industry has been characterized by a culture that values production over safety,” executive director Tom O'Connor said, citing the BP spill and refinery accidents in Texas City, Texas, and Richmond, California. “We call on the leaders of the oil and gas industry to take all necessary measures to ensure that workers are encouraged to report safety hazards.”

ISHN: BP to pay largest ever settlement in Deepwater Horizon tragedy - 11/15/12

Tom O’Connor, Executive Director, National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, called the fine amount is “a drop in the bucket” compared to BP’s $5.5 billion profit last quarter.

“Real justice for the 11 workers killed in the Deepwater Horizon explosion would be a strengthened OSH Act that allows for proper sanctions for all employers whose negligence lead to the loss of lives of their employees,” said O’Connor. “Following the BP disaster, Congress failed to take action to strengthen the criminal prosecution provisions of the OSH Act. “

O’Connor urged Congress to revisit the issue and institute “long overdue” reforms of the nation’s outdated worker safety laws.

Equities.com: BP and the Department of Justice Reach a $4.5 Billion Settlement in the Deepwater Horizon Case - 11/15/12

Tom O’Connor, executive director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, said the BP settlement shows a need for a stronger Occupational Safety and Health Act that allows for more criminal sanctions on “negligent employers.”

“Since OSHA was created in 1970, there have been more than 200,000 workplace deaths, yet only a tiny percentage of these led to criminal enforcement,” said O’Connor. “Between 2003 and 2008, only 10 criminal cases were brought for violations of the OSH Act, despite the fact that OSHA conducted nearly 10,000 fatality investigations during that time.”

Calling BP’s $4.5 billion fine “a drop in the bucket” compared to its $5.5 billion profit last quarter alone, O’Connor added: “Real justice for the 11 workers killed in the Deepwater Horizon explosion would be a strengthened OSH Act that allows for proper sanctions for all employers whose negligence lead to the loss of lives of their employees.”  

 

NBC17: Labor Department Fines Employer of Man Who Died in Manhole - 10/4/12

Tom O’Connor, National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, says cones are not enough protection and too much attention has been focused on the driver in the case.

"The real problem is that that driver should never have been able to get close to that spot. You have to assume that drivers are going to be driving carelessly at some point and you have to put in barriers to prevent those drivers from coming close to the people who are doing the work," O'Connor said.

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