Today's News / Environmental and Occupational Health

"A safe workplace is a basic human right"

April 27, 2012
KEYWORDS chemical / memorial / safety
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Workers Memorial Day 2012Statement from U.S. Chemical Safety Board Chairperson Rafael Moure-Eraso on Workers Memorial Day:

On this Workers’ Memorial Day 2012, I would like to take the opportunity to look back and remember those who have lost their lives and suffered serious injuries on the job this past year.
        
As chairperson of the independent federal agency whose mission is to investigate chemical accidents that continue to take too many lives, I have had the opportunity to meet the family and friends who have been impacted by these devastating tragedies. Meeting and speaking to people such as Chris Sherburne - a woman who sadly lost her husband in a horrible combustible metal dust fire at the Hoeganaes facility in Gallatin, Tennessee last year - brings me to an ever stronger commitment to my belief that that a safe workplace is a basic human right.

The series of accidents at the Hoeganaes facility fatally injured a total of five workers. The CSB released its final report at a public meeting in January and heard first hand from families who told us they are looking to the government - federal and state - to play a more active role in saving their loved ones’ lives through the prevention of workplace accidents.
 
Preventing future accidents is the cornerstone of the CSB’s mission. Ensuring that men and woman across the country return safely home from work is a mission that I am deeply dedicated to. The impact that these accidents have on families and communities is overwhelming. As Ms. Sherburne so eloquently stated at our public meeting in Gallatin, she is still trying to find “a new normal” following the death of her husband.

As chairperson of the Chemical Safety Board I would like to take this opportunity to recommit my agency to this important mission: preventing accidents by investigating them thoroughly and making the results public along with critical safety recommendations aimed at saving lives and protecting the public and the environment.

The CSB continues to move forward with its work and release high quality accident investigations. Just last week we released our final report and safety video into a fatal hot work accident that occurred at the DuPont facility located near Buffalo, New York.

Over the next year the CSB will release several major reports including its investigation into the April 20, 2010, Macondo well blowout, explosion and fire that killed eleven workers in the Gulf of Mexico. Our investigation is progressing, with two interim reports with findings and recommendations to be released this year and a final report is expected to be completed in early 2013.

On this Workers Memorial Day I commit the CSB anew to the important work that lies ahead. We mourn for those who have lost their lives, but for the living, we fight for accident prevention.

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