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  • 16 Deaths per day

    Sixteen workers are killed a day in the United States because of reckless negligence on the part of their employers. You're not going to believe how these employers are able to walk away scot-free, without much punishment for their neglect. Watch the video at: http://16deathsperday.com

    Question: How do you get away with murder?

    Answer: Hire your victim.

    There are 16 workplace deaths in the United States every day. Most companies are never prosecuted for negligence, even after repeated warnings that their workers were in danger.

    Under current Federal law, willfully contributing to the death of an employee is a misdemeanor that carries a maximum prison sentence of six months and a maximum fine of $70,000. Even with these weak penalties, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) rarely refers such cases to the Department of Justice for prosecution, so those employers that knowingly allow their employees to work under dangerous conditions are rarely held accountable. In fact, current laws are so weak that millions of dollars of penalties to victim's families have not been paid -- in those rare cases when violators are penalized at all.

    Working families need the Protecting America's Workers Act.

    Authored by Senator Ted Kennedy and Representative Lynn Woolsey, the Protecting America's Workers Act will:


    Expand workplace protections to state, county, municipal, and federal employees who are not currently covered by the Occupational Safety and Health Act * - See my comments below
    • Increase financial penalties for those who kill or endanger workers
    • Strengthen criminal penalties to make felony charges available for willful negligence causing death or serious injury
    • Expand OSHA coverage to millions of employees who fall through the cracks (like airline and railroad workers)
    • Provide protection for whistleblowers (There are existing programs that already protect workers, but they may need strengthening)
    • Give employees the right to refuse hazardous work that may kill them (I'm pretty sure we all have this right now. If you don't want to risk your life for a days pay, you can quit. No one can FORCE you to do something unsafe, you have to be willing to be forced to do something life threatening)
    • Improve the rights of workers and families, requiring OSHA to investigate all cases of death (It is REQUIRED that OSHA be notified of ALL work place related deaths, and I am pretty sure the investigate them all...eventually. OSHA is way undermanned and needs its ranks expanded)
    • Prohibit employers from discouraging reporting of injury or illness (this IS an area that needs strengthening. It is too easy to avoid a recordable injury. Too many loopholes.)
    * - I don't see this as necessary. As far as I know every government employee is covered by some safety regulation that while not under OSHA must be as stringent as OSHA regulations. State and other government employees in most states if they are not protected by OSHA are covered under a state program. In New Jersey this is called PEOSHA (Public Employees OSHA) and covers all State, County, and Municipal workers. It is probably the same in most other states. Members of the military are covered by the safety programs of the service branch, such as NAVOSH for the Navy and Marine Corps.
    Last edited by Bob D.; 12-01-2009, 07:58 PM.
    ---------------
    Light is faster than sound. That's why some people seem really bright until you hear them speak.
    ---------------
    “If I had my life to live over again, I'd be a plumber.” - Albert Einstein
    ---------
    "Its a table saw.... Do you know where your fingers are?"
    ---------
    sigpic http://www.helmetstohardhats.com/

  • #2
    Re: 16 Deaths per day

    While sixteen deaths a day is sixteen too much I'm surprised the number is not higher considering the many dangerous jobs and unsafe working conditions. Can you imagine the death toll in other countries where there is no OSHA, almost no safety rules or behaviors except for those demanded by the employer? I worked in thousands of manholes and venting them with a blower was a must. I did experience "dead air" once and it almost took me out! Very common for two or three workers to die in a manhole not properly vented because one will go to rescue the downed coworker, not realizing what has happened. No matter how strong you are, you can't function without oxygen. Good video.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: 16 Deaths per day

      Just a tip! I have on 2 occasions used my industrial Vac (Bosch GAS 25) as a makeshift air supply, when I've gone down manholes, or into tanks to get an unconcious colleague out.
      There are healthier ways of getting air, but short of a propper compressor/filter rig, you can survive down there,
      It's harder not to go in after a work mate, and how do you tell his widow that you just stood there, and couldn't go down after him?

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: 16 Deaths per day

        It's harder not to go in after a work mate, and how do you tell his widow
        that you just stood there, and couldn't go down after him?
        I understand where you are coming from on this and while I have not had to face this
        situation myself it would seem even harder on someone to have to go tell TWO widows
        that their other half will not be coming home.


        Case in point was this tragedy at a refinery in 2006, where one person entered a vessel
        and was overcome in the <1% O2 atmosphere and his foreman jumped in to save him and
        he too died within seconds.
        http://www.csb.gov/investigations/de...2&pg=1&F_All=y
        Last edited by Bob D.; 12-14-2009, 11:08 PM.
        ---------------
        Light is faster than sound. That's why some people seem really bright until you hear them speak.
        ---------------
        “If I had my life to live over again, I'd be a plumber.” - Albert Einstein
        ---------
        "Its a table saw.... Do you know where your fingers are?"
        ---------
        sigpic http://www.helmetstohardhats.com/

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: 16 Deaths per day

          In my view this is a great example of unnecessary legislation.

          I'm sure there are specific cases where employees are pressured into unsafe activities or where the employer is negligent. These situations don't need new laws, they need enforcement of existing protections.

          In the final assessment, we have to be responsible for our own safety. It's not the army. If you boss tells you do something that's not safe, say no. Beyond that, employees have recourse currently.

          When laws like this are promoted, and presented with sensationalist verbiage ("murder") it suggests to me that someone is aiming to prosper. But it's seldom the group that the law purports to protect.

          Necessary laws are good. Unnecessary laws are bad, very bad and just tend to muck up the system. I think unnecessary and redundant laws are all too common and a reason why our otherwise reasonable legal system is so tied up in it's own knickers.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: 16 Deaths per day

            problem andy is there are much more untrained/ unskilled workers than there are properly trained skilled workers.

            osha can be a pita, but a bigger pita is dealing with the injured or dead.

            i never allowed anyone to do something i wouldn't do. we all take educated risk, it's the risk that we're not educated in that could be the last one we take

            wait till i share some adventure videos of my vacation. talk about a non educated risk. 630' jump from a skytower/ skyneedle you sign your life away and hope that the company running it has the safety training to keep it safe. vegas is opening up 1 in april that will be 800+ feet from the ground.

            rick.
            phoebe it is

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: 16 Deaths per day

              Originally posted by PLUMBER RICK View Post
              problem andy is there are much more untrained/ unskilled workers than there are properly trained skilled workers.

              osha can be a pita, but a bigger pita is dealing with the injured or dead.

              i never allowed anyone to do something i wouldn't do. we all take educated risk, it's the risk that we're not educated in that could be the last one we take

              wait till i share some adventure videos of my vacation. talk about a non educated risk. 630' jump from a skytower/ skyneedle you sign your life away and hope that the company running it has the safety training to keep it safe. vegas is opening up 1 in april that will be 800+ feet from the ground.

              rick.
              Hi Rick. I fully support laws that grant necessary protections. But unnecessary redundant laws aren't for that... they're for lawyers.

              Having owned a business that involved serious hazards (automotive engine machine shop), I had a much more comprehensive policy than OSHA (which pretty much just deals with the very basics) that specifically addressed the many things we did in our shop. Not only are injuries potentially tragic.. they're very expensive to the business.

              I found that the untrained "newbies" got more little cuts and whatnot, but it was the more skilled, experienced people that seemed to get the more serious injuries - they tend to get complacent about safety, disrespect the shop safety procedures, use machines incorrectly or skip important checks or safety steps, or sometimes they get too lazy to walk twenty feet to get the correct tool for what they were doing.

              Redundant laws that point at the employer aren't going to help that, just going to create lawsuits and raise insurance rates.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: 16 Deaths per day

                I'm with Andy and agree with Bob D.s assessment. Don't need more laws, but less laws and better enforcement.

                Expanding OSHA is not going to help, as almost all industries are regulated now, but OSHA and the rest (with the exception of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that makes license compliance visits) normally show up to investigate After someone is hurt or killed. It is up to the companies' internal safety programs to prevent it, and they are fined or corrected after the fact. One or two follow ups and then back to business as usual.

                Look at all the stink and laws passed in the mining industry, and we still have major accidents. Better inspections and stiffer fines BEFORE the death or injury may have an effect, but adding another 1000 pages to a law that no one reads, comprehends, or can afford to enforce is not going to solve a thing, especially when enough money will buy someone that extra loophole that only the buyer's lawyers know is there.

                Besides, those 6000 job vacancies a year are probably being included in the "saved jobs" figures used by the current congress in working our way out of this fine mess we are in. Without that they couldn't claim anything!!

                JMTCW

                Go
                Practicing at practical wood working

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: 16 Deaths per day

                  Expanding OSHA is not going to help
                  You can't get better enforcement w/o expanding the OSHA workforce which has always been WAY understaffed since day one. In my area, the local OSHA office has about a dozen people to go out and do workplace inspections AND cover the office (answer phones, etc.). Now this is not just for construction sites, this is for every establishment that falls under OSHA which is to say about 90% of employers in the area. In this area that is well over 5000 (how do I know, I asked the one of the inspectors). With about 250 work days in a year, they would need 20 people in the field every regular workday just to visit each workplace once a year (some days they might get to inspect two places, some days only one). On top of that you have to cover complaints, court appearances, accident investigations, and other unforeseen incidents so you probably need another 4 or 5 people, plus the staff back in the office to back them up and answer the phones. A typical inspection including the interviews will take about one to two hours, and maybe more for large establishments. With travel time and time to write up reports they will be lucky to get one or two a day.

                  ----snip----
                  http://www.osha.gov/dcsp/compliance_..._industry.html
                  1. Recordkeeping. OSHA requires certain employers to keep records of workplace injuries and illnesses (29 CFR 1904).
                  2. Reporting. OSHA requires all employers, regardless of size or industry, to report the work-related death of any employee or hospitalizations of three or more employees. Read about OSHA's reporting requirements (29 CFR 1904.39).
                  3. OSHA Poster. All employers must post the OSHA Poster (or state plan equivalent) in a prominent location in the workplace. Download or order the OSHA Poster in English or Spanish.
                  4. Access to Employee Exposure and Medical Records. An OSHA standard (29 CFR 1910.1020) requires employers to provide employees, their designated representatives, and OSHA with access to employee exposure and medical records. Employers generally must maintain employee exposure records for 30 years and medical records for the duration of the employee's employment plus 30 years.
                  NOTE: If your workplace is in a state operating an OSHA-approved state program, state plan recordkeeping regulations, although substantially identical to federal ones, may have some more stringent or supplemental requirements, such as for reporting of fatalities and catastrophes. Contact your state program directly for additional information.
                  ----snip----

                  All of the businesses that are under the radar so to speak and NEVER get visited (or have to worry about it) are some of the biggest burdens on health care systems, emergency services, and insurance companies. The scope of their "accidents" is virtually unknown because they are not tracked in the system. Small farming operations are exempt and don't have to comply with the OSH Act. This would be operations with less then 10 employees during the past year.If you have a dozen members of your family working the farm, they are not employees I believe and so the regs would not apply to them either even if they had 12 family members and 9 employees (did I get that part right BHD?). Think about the thousands of small businesses with less than 10 employees, their combined workforce is larger than WalMarts' who is the largest single employer after Uncle Sam I believe.

                  All those injuries that go unreported, all those people at risk of being injured or killed incapacitated because they fear they may lose their job if they ask for the correct PPE, or a ladder to get out of a trench over 4 foot deep, ear plugs or safety glasses, or a guard for a side grinder just to name a few.

                  The only way to reduce those injuries is to expand OSHA to include the smaller businesses. Not pleasant I know and it adds expenses that must be passed down the line to the client so it will probably never happen.
                  ---------------
                  Light is faster than sound. That's why some people seem really bright until you hear them speak.
                  ---------------
                  “If I had my life to live over again, I'd be a plumber.” - Albert Einstein
                  ---------
                  "Its a table saw.... Do you know where your fingers are?"
                  ---------
                  sigpic http://www.helmetstohardhats.com/

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: 16 Deaths per day

                    Perhaps this falls under "Moral Courage", however one thing I have noticed with the construction industry, especially with the small business sector (Less than 10 employees) that often struggle just to keep their heads afloat, "Moral Courage", "Safety" and "Source of Income" are often conflicting interests.

                    I have my "OSHA 10" , Asbestos Awareness", and "Confined Space Awareness" training certificates, but my nightmare scenario is this: Here I am, some electrical apprentice doing the crawl around the attic work in a big 50+ man renovation project in an old building. Keeping in mind my employer is a subcontractor for the GC, which they both have a good business relationship, I smell what I believe to be natural gas, or some kind of gas, leaking into the attic (A confined space where I'm wearing a dustmask). What am I suppose to do? In absolute terms, Yes, I am suppose to leave the area immediately, and inform my supervisor, but come on! Such a thing would shut down the entire job. Plus I am not an expert in determining what odor indicates what gas, or even if it is a gas. So here is the challenge thrown down to me.

                    I am not an expert in various gasses, there is such a thing as olfactory negation, and "sounding the alarm", if proven false, would put my current employment at risk, in spite of what the law says. If proven true, then of course i'm seen as a "hero' of sorts. BUT, such a decision is based not of informed confidence, but fearful ignorance. What if that smell was nothing more than a dead rat's carcas? Old insulation? How would I explain myself to not only my employer, but force my employer to explain himself to the GC how a dead rat just cost the job 50+ manhours just because I smelled something funny?

                    *EDIT*
                    Not to mention the fact that such a thing puts the GC in the really embarrasing position of explaining to the customer why the project was delayed.
                    Last edited by tailgunner; 12-16-2009, 10:45 PM.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: 16 Deaths per day

                      Tailgunner, your dilemma has several aspects which can be debated or explored but ultimately you have to choose which is the greater risk, causing a monetary loss and "looking bad", or risk to life or limb? Specific to the scenario I would ask what kind of gas lines would be in an attic space? Aside from acetylene and hydrogen, explosive gases (propane, natural) usually are heavier than air and would settle very low in a building, right? If there are gas lines running in a sealed work area do you use an explosimeter and vent prior to entering? I was lucky to have the backing of fellow Union workers when I was a lineman, but I worked with a lot of lead, toxic chemicals, asbestos and manholes containing gasoline which leached from nearby gas stations. You have to be willing to take some risks to keep a job which you know, and stand up when the risk is enough to sound that internal alarm.

                      Comment

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