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6,300 safety hazards found in Congressional buildings (7/15)

Instead of Capitol Hill, call it hazard hill, according to a report issued this week by the Office of Compliance, which is responsible for protecting the congressional workplace.

According to the report: “The Capitol and other congressional buildings are rife with fire traps and other pervasive problems of age and dangerous design, with an estimated 6,300 safety hazards lurking on Capitol Hill this Congress.”

Investigators found that a quarter of the hazards are potentially fatal or could leave victims with serious injuries. Antique, open stairwells could create a deadly smoke funnel, preventing employees from escaping the Russell Senate Office Building in the event of a fire or terrorist attack.

The Library of Congress’s Thomas Jefferson Building lacks adequate exit stairwells. The Capitol itself has structural defects that leave it inadequate to stop the spread of smoke and toxic fumes.

Workplace safety experts say that if Congress were a private-sector business, it would be at risk for massive OSHA fines.

Congress conveniently exempted itself from key parts of federal workplace law. Congress is not required to keep records of injuries, death or hazardous exposure on the job.

So while Congress this week debates OSHA reform legislation, it doesn’t practice what it preaches. The cost of correcting hazards is one reason Congress has let them linger for years.

And lawmakers are up in arms over BP’s cost-cutting…

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