National COSH Releases New Report On 50,000+ Annual Preventable Workplace Deaths

Mexican Worker (image by Wiki Commons)

Report: 50,000+ Fatalities Annually from Workplace Injuries and Illnesses:
Deaths Can Be Prevented, Safety Experts Say

Study Highlights High Risks Faced by Hispanic Workers;
Calls for More Spanish-Language Outreach and Enhanced Whistleblower Protection 

Mexican Worker (image by Wiki Commons)

Mexican Worker (image by Wiki Commons)

SAN DIEGO,CA – More than 50,000 U.S. workers die each year due to occupational injuries and illnesses, says “Preventable Death 2014,” an upcoming report from the National Council on Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH). NCOSH

“No one should have to risk their life simply to earn a living,” said Jessica Martinez, deputy director of National COSH. “Many of the injuries and illnesses that are killing American workers can be prevented.  We know the safety systems, equipment and training that can stop people from dying on the job, and it’s absolutely urgent that we take action to protect workers and their families.”

“After what I saw and lived through,” said Joyce Gilliard “I want to advocate for safety and prevent any other tragedies or injuries in the workplace.” Gilliard, a hair stylist, suffered a compound fracture when she survived a tragic incident on a train trestle which claimed the life of cinematographer Sarah Jones, 27, during a feature film shoot in Georgia on Feb. 20th.

“Preventable Deaths 2014” will combine data collected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 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 report from National COSH is being released in advance of Workers’ Memorial Week, a global event which commemorates workers who lost their lives on the job.  In the United States, more than 50 local communities in 27 states will honor fallen workers.   A listing of events is available on the National COSH website.

“Preventable Deaths 2014” will document the high rate of workplace fatalities due to injury experienced by Hispanic workers  — 4.2 deaths per 100,000 workers in 2012, compared to 3.7 deaths per 100,000 for the U.S. population as a whole.  This pattern of high risk for Hispanic workers, the report shows, has continued for at least the past five years.

“We know that Hispanic workers are in high-hazard jobs and training and communication make a huge difference, so we need to make sure training is available for all workers in a language they understand,” said Martinez. “That includes informing workers of their rights during any safety inspection that takes place in their workplace.”

“Preventable Deaths 2014” will also identity specific strategies to reduce workplace hazards in the six areas identified by BLS as leading causes of workplace fatalities:  Transportation incidents, contacts with objects and equipment, falls to a lower level, workplace, violence, exposure to harmful substances and environments, and fires and explosions.

Attempts by individual states to weaken safety standards – such as legislation in Arizona which weakens fall protection for construction workers – are moving in exactly the wrong direction said Peter Dooley, a Tucson-based senior consultant for National COSH.

“More than 100 workers fell to their deaths in Arizona during the past decade,” said Dooley. “Instead of weakening any rules, we should be implementing and enforcing the procedures that we know can save lives, like mandated use of safety protections systems to prevent falls.”

In addition to “Preventable Deaths 2014,” released on April 23rd by National COSH, local health and safety coalitions in California, Massachusetts, New York, Tennessee, Texas and Wyoming will also release reports on workplace fatalities in their individual states next week, in conjunction with Worker Memorial Week activities.

* * *

National COSH links the efforts of local worker health and safety coalitions in communities across the United States, advocating for elimination of preventable hazards in the workplace. For more information, please visit coshnetwork.org.  Follow us at National Council for Occupational Safety and Health on Facebook, and @NationalCOSH on Twitter.

NH Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health To Honor Workers On Workers Memorial Day

WMD+2014+poster20X14PNG

WMD+2014+poster20X14PNG

No matter how hard we work, how hard we try, and people are still going to be injured on the job.  Every day labor unions are pushing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to create a safer workplace for all workers.

For over 40 years, unions have been working with OSHA to identify workplace hazards and identify employers who are cutting corners that put workers safety at risk.

New Hampshire has always taken pride in the fact that we are one of the safest states to work in.  Over the last few years, New Hampshire has led the country with the least number of on the job deaths.  With only seven workplace deaths this year will be no different.

Workers memorial day

Once a year America’s unions and safety organizations, like the NH Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health, honor these workers who lost their lives on the job.  The day, dubbed Workers Memorial Day, honors workers while renewing our effort to make our jobs safer.

This year the NH Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health will be holding their annual Workers Memorial Day dinner.

Worker’s Memorial Day will be held on April 28th, at 5:30 at the Plumbers and Steamfitters Hall, 161 Londonderry Turnpike, Hooksett, NH.

This year we have identified 7 individuals who lost their lives on the job in New Hampshire in 2013.  We will be adding their names to our perpetual memorial plaque.  There will be a buffet dinner and guest speakers.  There is no registration fee for this event.

The focus of the meeting is to remind everyone that, despite the passage of the OSH Act over 40 years ago, thousands of workers are injured or killed on the job every year, some of whom may never return to work.

The event is open to everyone, but space is limited.  For more information Brian Mitchell contactnhcosh@nhcosh.org and (603) 232-4406.

 

For more information on Workers Memorial Day go to the AFL-CIO Website where you can find a WMD celebration in your area.

LIUNA Pushes for Action on Silica

LIUNA - The Laborers' International Union of North America
LIUNA - The Laborers' International Union of North America

LIUNA – The Laborers’ International Union of North America

Washington, D.C. – As the U.S. Department of Labor concluded its final day of public hearings on a proposed rule to prevent exposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica in the workplace, officials from the Laborers’ Health and Safety Fund of North America, LIUNA Training and other LIUNA affiliates testified on the new proposed standard. Their testimony follows several weeks of testimony by various representatives of labor, industry and associations.  The new proposed standard, announced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), aims to limit American workers’ risk of lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and kidney disease caused by Silica dust inhalation.

At the hearing, LIUNA officials urged the department to act fast in finalizing the silica rule since this dangerous dust is already causing millions to suffer unnecessary death and diseases like silicosis and lung cancer. During the more than 16 years spent developing this proposal, there have been no requirements to train workers on silica or monitor exposure levels. If approved, this new rule could save thousands of lives by limiting dust exposure with control methods, such as water and ventilation, and providing medical exams for workers who have been exposed.

Excerpts below:

“Last year, my doctor advised me to stop work. He had diagnosed me with silicosis and advised me to avoid job sites where I could be exposed to silica… It may be too late to prevent my illness, but my fellow sandhogs and young workers who are just starting to do tunnel construction deserve better protection.” – EDDIE MALLON, MEMBER of LABORERS’ LOCAL #147

“Some of the potential for our most severe exposures are in tunnel work where the confined nature of the work, the often limited ventilation and the ability of tunnel boring machines and other tunnel equipment to generate dust from excavating large amounts of material can lead to substantial silica exposures.” – JAMES MELIUS, MD, DrPH, ADMINISTRATOR of NY STATE LABORERS HEALTH AND SAFETY TRUST FUND

“OSHA’s proposed Silica in Construction standard should take a stronger stance in providing the training and information workers need… it is imperative that workers directly engaged in dust-generating operations receive task and equipment specific training.” – TOM NUNZIATA, LIUNA TRAINING AND EDUCATION FUND

“We recommend that OSHA include and strengthen the competent person provisions in the final rule. We believe the competent person is one of OSHA’s most vital and effective safety and health tools in the construction industry and must be a part of the new rule.” – TRAVIS PARSONS, SENIOR SAFETY & HEALTH SPECIALIST of LABORERS’ HEALTH AND SAFETY FUND OF NORTH AMERICA

There are thousands of workers every day in the U.S. exposed to similar conditions on the job, and we need this new standard to offer better protection to these men and women for silica exposures in construction… we urge OSHA to quickly publish a final rule.” – KEN HOFFNER, MSPH, CIH, CSP, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR of NEW JERSEY LABORERS’ HEALTH AND SAFETY FUND

“[W]e see that states and municipalities are passing laws to protect their citizens and workers from silica containing dust… it is imperative that OSHA move forward with the standard… Greater production, use and protection would be ensured.” – WALTER JONES, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH of LABORERS’ HEALTH AND SAFETY FUND OF NORTH AMERICA

“We believe a new OSHA standard with a lowered PEL will spur innovation in the construction industry… By changing the culture through a new standard, we can preserve worker health, help construction workers lead longer and healthier lives and, based on much of the testimony to date, likely make work more productive in the process.” – SCOTT SCHNEIDER, DIRECTOR OF OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH of LABORERS’ HEALTH AND SAFETY FUND OF NORTH AMERICA

Hispanic Immigrant Workers To Testify For Stronger Regulations On Silica Dust Exposure At Safety Hearing

Silica Dust Worker Mask Thumb

New Limits Needed on Workplace Dust, Say Those Who Breathe it Every Day 

Washington DC –Hispanic immigrants from the construction and foundry industries who are directly affected by silica dust, a widespread industrial hazard, will testify today before an administrative law judge of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

“We are exposed to the poison,” said José Granado, a construction worker from Houston who came to the United States from El Salvador 15 year ago. “I came to the U.S. looking for a better life. However due to risky and unsafe work that I’m doing in the construction industry, it’s looks like that instead of getting a better life, I came to give mine away.”

At issue is a landmark new regulation, the first proposed by OSHA in many years, which would limit exposure of workers to silica dust. Hearings on the proposed rule, which began at the U.S. Department of Labor on March 18th, will continue through April 4th. Dust from building materials and other industrial processes is common in construction, foundries, glassmaking, hydraulic fracking and other industries.

Experts from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) have testified that exposure to silica dust can cause silicosis, lung cancer, pulmonary tuberculosis, airways diseases, and autoimmune disorders.  OSHA is proposing a new limit of 50 micrograms of silica dust per cubic meter of air space, a standard that was first recommended by NIOSH in 1974.

Seven immigrant workers from Houston, Milwaukee, New Jersey and Philadelphia and will testify in Spanish today with the aid of an interpreter. Today’s testimony is a rare opportunity for top government officials to hear from workers directly impacted by proposed safety regulations.

The workers are affiliated with local worker centers and health and safety groups, including Fe y Justicia Workers’ Center in Houston, Voces de la Frontera in Milwaukee, New Labor in New Jersey and the Philadelphia Area Project on Occupational Safety and Health.

“Immigrant workers often have few options but to take dirty, dangerous jobs that lack proper safety precautions,” said Jessica Martinez, deputy director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, a worker advocacy coalition. “These men and women typically work outside the standards of a union contract, which can make it especially difficult to access training and protection from silica dust and other workplace hazards. They are breathing in dangerous dust every day. Their voices must be heard when considering how to make our workplaces as safe as possible.”

According to Granado, contractors routinely ignore safety precautions.

“They only care that the construction project will be completed on time. They don’t care that we work long hours, and we are exposed all those hours, they don’t give us any protective equipment, do not use water or any equipment to vacuum away the dust.

Some coworkers are afraid to report what happens, because the first thing the company tells us that if we do not want to work in that conditions, if we do not like, we have to go to work elsewhere.”

Also testifying today is Jonas Mendoza, a construction worker from New Jersey who is a safety liaison for New Labor. He plans to tell OSHA:

“In the construction industry contractors do not provide the workers with the basics to do the job. In many instances if you ask for protective equipment they give you a mask from the 99 cents store to shut you up… All the contractors should be more considerate with their workers. There are feasible ways to control dust, to prevent contamination of the environment and without hurting the people that perform these jobs.

We are also exposed to dust and we have a high probability of getting lung related diseases as a result of inhaling hazardous dusts.  We don’t even know that is affecting us. Many times we do these jobs without any protection. We are exposed to hazards on demolition jobs in unsafe conditions, in places that are not cleaned, places where there is not even a place to wash your hands before eating. Places where everything is cover in dust.”

In addition to today’s witnesses, who are directly affected by dust exposure, National COSH workplace safety experts will testify before OSHA next Tuesday, April 1st.
ALSO

USW panels to testify in OSHA hearings on proposed standard for workplace exposure to crystalline silica

Panels representing the United Steelworkers (USW) who are job safety specialists will each present testimony this morning at public hearings being held by the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) in support of a OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration) proposed standard to protect workers from silica exposure.

The two USW panels will include workers from facilities where job exposure to respirable crystalline silica occurs daily. USW members are exposed to silica in foundries, glass making, refractory manufacturing and shipyards. The hearings begin each day at 9:30 am and run Mar. 18 – Apr. 4 in the Cesar Chavez Auditorium at the USDOL (200 Constitution Ave., NW).

Silica dust is a killer. It causes silicosis, a disabling lung disease that literally suffocates workers to death. It also causes lung cancer, respiratory and kidney diseases.

The proposed rule would cut permitted dust exposure levels in half; require exposure monitoring; medical exams for workers and implementation of dust control methods. The updated standard would protect more than two million workers exposed to deadly silica dust.

Panels representing the United Steelworkers (USW) who are job safety specialists will each present testimony this morning at public hearings being held by the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) in support of a OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration) proposed standard to protect workers from silica exposure.

The two USW panels will include workers from facilities where job exposure to respirable crystalline silica occurs daily. USW members are exposed to silica in foundries, glass making, refractory manufacturing and shipyards. The hearings begin each day at 9:30 am and run Mar. 18 – Apr. 4 in the Cesar Chavez Auditorium at the USDOL (200 Constitution Ave., NW).

Silica dust is a killer. It causes silicosis, a disabling lung disease that literally suffocates workers to death. It also causes lung cancer, respiratory and kidney diseases.

The proposed rule would cut permitted dust exposure levels in half; require exposure monitoring; medical exams for workers and implementation of dust control methods. The updated standard would protect more than two million workers exposed to deadly silica dust.

103 years later: profits are STILL more important than people

triangle_shirtwaist

Cartoon refers to the Triangle fire and depicts a woman weeping over a grave, and asks the reader: "How soon will they be all forgotten?"Today marks the 103rd anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, when 146 garment workers were trapped behind locked doors.  Some of the young women burned to death; others died of smoke inhalation; still others jumped out of windows to certain death.

The good news is: this year even some mainstream media outlets are remembering the anniversary.

The bad news is: workers are still dying on the jobBangladeshChina … Pakistan … Nigeria… Italy

… even, still, here in the United States.  About 150 American workers die each day from workplace accidents or occupational illness.  (Yes, you did read that right: 150 each day.  But since they don’t die in the same place, from the same thing, these deaths don’t make the headlines.)

When will we stop thinking of profit margins as more important than people?

[Be warned: this video is graphic and may be disturbing]

Senate Passes D’Allesandro Bill to Help Critically Injured First Responders

N.H. Senator Lou D'Allesandro 
Image from Canadian Consulate

Bill Adds New Protections for Police, Firefighters, Other First Responders

N.H. Senator Lou D'Allesandro  Image from Canadian Consulate

N.H. Senator Lou D’Allesandro
Image from Canadian Consulate

Concord – Today the Senate passed SB 204, a bill that extends compensation benefits for critically injured first responders for conditions not currently covered by worker’s compensation.

“This is about Officer Doherty and all of the brave men and women like him who put their lives on the line for us every day in our communities,” said Senator D’Allesandro.  “I believe that our police, our firefighters, and all of our first responders deserve to know that these kinds of life-changing injuries will not be ignored, and that we will stand by them to help them if they are critically injured.”

The bill was introduced by Manchester Senator Lou D’Allesandro based on his experience advocating on behalf of Manchester Police Officer Daniel Doherty who was critically injured in the line of duty after being shot 6 times.  During his recovery, Officer Doherty discovered that wounds to limbs can be covered under worker’s compensation, but many internal injuries that can profoundly alter a person’s quality of life and ability to work are not covered.

Senator Andrew Hosmer, a member of the committee that worked on a bipartisan amendment to the bill, added: “This bill helps to close a hole in our worker’s compensation system.  It shouldn’t matter whether an injury is to a limb or an internal organ.  What matters is that when we ask our first responders to do dangerous work to protect our communities, they should know that if they are critically injured they will have the support and help they deserve.  I commend Senator D’Allesandro for leading this effort to take a big step in the right direction for our first responders.”

Wage Theft And The Misclassification Of Workers, Fill Out NH’s ‘Top Ten Labor Violations’

NewHampshire

new-hampshire-flag

This week the State of New Hampshire released their ‘top ten’ list of labor violations. To those of us who are working in the labor movement, none of these are really surprising.  The majority of these violations stem from employers stealing workers pay.

Top 10 New Hampshire Labor Law Violations

  1. Failure to pay all wages due for hours worked, fringe benefits, breaks less than 20 minutes, etc. *RSA 275:43 and Lab 803.01
  2. Failure to keep accurate record of all hours worked. *RSA 279: 27 and Lab 803.03
  3. Failure to have a written safety plan, joint loss management committee and safety summary form filed biennially, as required. *RSA 281-A:64 and Lab 602.01, 602.02, 603.02, and 603.03
  4. Employing Illegal Aliens (not having proper documentation). *RSA 275-A: 4-a
  5. Failure to secure and maintain workers compensation coverage and misclassification of employees. *RSA 275:42 I & II and RSA 281-A
  6. Failure to provide written notice to employees of their wage rate, pay period, pay day and a description of fringe benefits, including any changes. *RSA 275: 49 and Lab 803.03
  7. Failure to pay 2 hours minimum pay at their regular rate of pay on a given day that an employee reports to work at the request of the employer. *RSA 275:43-a and LAB 803.03 (h),(i),(j)
  8. Illegal employment of workers under 18 (not having proper paperwork, hours violations, or working in a hazardous environment). *RSA 276-A: and Lab 1000
  9. Illegal deductions from wages.  *RSA 275: 48 and Lab 803.02(b),(e),(f)
  10. Failure to pay minimum wage for all hours worked. * RSA 279:21

Wage theft is real and people have to deal with it in many jobs, especially those who work in service industry.  The “Failure to pay minimum wage for all hours worked” goes right against the right wing, anti-minimum wage advocates who like to go around saying that tipped employees make $20.00 per hour.   For those who do not know, the minimum wage for tipped employees in NH is $3.25 (45% of $7.25 minimum wage).  The sheer fact this this violation is on the list means that people in the service industry are not making enough in tips to reach the mandated $7.25 minimum wage.

The other violations on this list are egregious, but the ‘misclassification of workers’ and ‘employing illegal aliens’, are two violations that are hurting all hard working  Granite Staters.

By allowing undocumented aliens to work and then misclassifying them allows companies to pay workers far less than a comparable American worker would make.

I have heard stories of construction companies hiring a person to be a ‘janitor’ and then have that same employee doing carpentry on a job site.  Of course you would be hard pressed to find a real carpenter who would work on a construction site for janitor’s wages.  The other problem is what skills does this person really possess?  Are they really qualified to do carpentry?

We need the State Department of Labor to come down hard on employers who violate these labor laws.  The more they litigate employers for violations, the more others will fall in line and follow the rules.

Duct Tape is No Substitute for Emergency Room: why workers need immigration reform

Silver Needle and Golden Thread by CarbonNYC via Flickr2
Immigrant Construction Carpenters (Photograph by Daniel Acker:Bloomberg)

(Photograph by Daniel Acker:Bloomberg)

Want to know why labor unions are pushing so hard to get immigration reform passed?

Get Eva Castillo and Liz Skidmore into a room together, and get them to start talking about undocumented workers here in New Hampshire.

Silver Needle and Golden Thread by CarbonNYC via Flickr2They’ll tell you about the undocumented construction worker who had his head sliced open – and his boss stitched it back together (needle and thread, no anesthesia, still on the worksite) and sent him back to work.

They’ll tell you about the undocumented worker who sliced his hand open with a power saw – and his boss patched him up with duct tape and sent him back to work.

They’ll tell you about the undocumented worker who was installing drywall at a prestigious private boarding school, fell from scaffolding and suffered a crush injury to his head.  This injured worker was taken to the hospital, in a coma.  When he was able to be discharged, the company owner’s wife picked him up, then left him alone at his apartment without medication.  After she left, he fell and stayed unconscious until the next day.  She came back to take him to the followup doctor’s appointment, where she acted as his translator and told the doctor that “everything was just fine”.  But everything wasn’t fine – and he couldn’t take care of himself, nevermind go back to work.  And if he couldn’t work, he couldn’t pay the rent on the company-owned apartment – and so the drywall company kicked him out.

That particular undocumented worker is back in his home country now: brain-injured, missing pieces of his skull and almost certainly not able to work again.  One more casualty of American’s economy.

Here in New Hampshire, 62% of undocumented workers do not know about workers’ compensationAlmost ten percent of those undocumented workers have been hurt on the job.

This Labor Day weekend, as you’re spending an extra day with family and friends, take just a few minutes to think about duct tape… worksite sutures… getting left completely alone after a life-threatening injury.

What a choice.  Go back to work – or go back to your home country.

Think about those workers, and you’ll understand why labor unions are pushing so hard for immigration reform.

——–

Eva Castillo is Coordinator for the New Hampshire Alliance of Immigrants and Refugees.  Liz Skidmore is a Business Manager for the New Hampshire Carpenters Local 118.  They routinely work with undocumented workers who would be otherwise voiceless and invisible.  Special thanks to them both, this Labor Day weekend.

 

OSHA Releases New Standards On Silica Exposure, The AFL-CIO Says It’s “Long Overdue”

Silica Dust Worker Mask Thumb

Silica Dust Worker Mask Full

Every day across the country workers put themselves in potential danger from Silica dust. Crystalline silica, a compound found in sand, quartz, flint, slate and other elements. Silica isn’t hazardous until it’s airborne, like when it is crushed, ground or cut with a saw.

“Exposure to airborne crystalline silica can put workers at risk of developing silicosis, a non-curable lung disease caused by accumulation of silica dust in the lungs. The dust embeds itself in the lungs and causes scar tissue to form. The scar tissue reduces the lungs’ ability to take in oxygen.” (source)

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration today announced a proposed rule aimed at curbing lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and kidney disease in America’s workers. The proposal seeks to lower worker exposure to crystalline silica, which kills hundreds of workers and sickens thousands more each year. After publication of the proposal, the public will have 90 days to submit written comments, followed by public hearings.

“Exposure to silica can be deadly, and limiting that exposure is essential,” said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. “Every year, exposed workers not only lose their ability to work, but also to breathe. This proposal is expected to prevent thousands of deaths from silicosis-an incurable and progressive disease-as well as lung cancer, other respiratory diseases and kidney disease. We’re looking forward to public comment on the proposal.”

Once the full effects of the rule are realized, OSHA estimates that the proposed rule would result in saving nearly 700 lives per year and prevent 1,600 new cases of silicosis annually.

“The proposed rule uses common sense measures that will protect workers’ lives and lungs-like keeping the material wet so dust doesn’t become airborne,” added Michaels. “It is designed to give employers flexibility in selecting ways to meet the standard.”

The AFL-CIO released this statement after OSHA announced proposed rule
to protect workers exposed to crystalline silica.

The AFL-CIO welcomes today’s release of OSHA’s proposed silica standard. This rule when finalized will help protect more than 2 million workers exposed to this deadly dust and save hundreds of workers lives each year. It is particularly important for workers in construction, foundries, shipyards and in oil and gas drilling who face the highest exposures.

This rule is long overdue. The development of the silica standard began more than 16 years ago.  Meanwhile workers have continued to suffer unnecessary disease and death.

Silica dust is a killer. It causes silicosis a disabling lung disease that literally suffocates workers to death. It also causes lung cancer and other diseases. The current OSHA silica standard was adopted decades ago and fails to protect workers.  It allows very high levels of exposure and has no requirements to train workers or monitor exposure levels. Simply enforcing the current rule, as some in industry have called for won’t protect workers.

But this new standard will. The proposed rule will cut permitted dust exposure levels in half, require exposure monitoring and medical exams for exposed workers and require the implementation of well-established dust control methods, like the use of water and ventilation.

But this rule is only a proposal – workers exposed to silica dust will only be protected when a final rule is issued.  Some industry groups are certain to attack the rule and try to stop it in its tracks. The AFL-CIO will do everything we can to see that does not happen. We urge the Obama administration to continue moving forward with the public rulemaking process without delay. The final silica rule should be issued as fast as humanly possible, to protect the health and lives of American workers.

Even more workers die behind locked doors

Imperial Foods

A blaze at a locked poultry slaughterhouse in northeast China has killed at least 119 workers.  Read the Reuters story here.

Photo from US Fire Administration Report

Aftermath of the 1991 Imperial Foods chicken processing plant fire.

Does this sound just a little too familiar?

Two decades ago, 25 workers were killed in a fire at a poultry processing plant in Hamlet, North Carolina.  Several exit doors were locked, trapping workers inside.  “Reports have surfaced that workers inside the Hamlet Plant were afraid to say anything about safety conditions due to fear of being fired.”  Read the FEMA Report on that fire here.

How many times is history going to repeat itself?

  • November 2012: 112 workers died behind locked doors in a garment factory fire outside Dhaka, Bangladesh
  • September 2012: 258 workers died behind locked doors in a garment factory fire in Karachi, Pakistan
  • December 2010: 25 workers died behind locked doors in a garment factory fire outside Dhaka, Bangladesh
  • March 2010: 21 workers died behind locked doors in a garment factory fire outside Dhaka, Bangladesh
  • April 2008: 55 workers died behind locked doors in a mattress factory fire in Casablanca, Morocco
  • September 2002: 45 workers died behind locked doors at a plastics factory fire in Lagos, Nigeria

(How many other workers’ deaths didn’t make the headlines?)

Corporations look after their profits, not their workers.

Read “How Unions Make Workplaces Safer” here.