Weekly news round-up
Pipeline problems, a plan to reform OSHA and new occupational safety and health concerns for workers in a new industry. These were among the top stories featured on ISHN.com this week.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has ordered a Texas-based company to stop new drilling on a $4.2 billion project, after one of its pipelines spilled millions of gallons of a lubricant into a half a million square feet of Ohio wetlands.
“There’s no cop on the beat enforcing our drinking water laws”
Nearly a quarter of the U.S. population -- approximately 77 million people – is drinking water from systems reporting violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act in 2015, according to a report issued recently by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
The question of whether obesity should be classified a ‘disease’ – a question which has sparked controversy for decades – was answered with a “yes” recently by the World Obesity Federation (WOF).
The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) has crafted a plan for reshaping OSHA that would focus the agency on risk management and productive policies and fill legislative and regulatory gaps that limit its ability to better protect workers.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is making up to $55 million in grants available to local transit agencies that bring American-made technologies like battery electric power and hydrogen fuel cells into their bus services.
Children and teens exposed to high levels of traffic-related air pollution have evidence of a specific type of DNA damage called telomere shortening, reports a study in the May Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
A Confined Space blog post
Sometimes, when you’re reading about the tragedies in the Weekly Toll, there are a few that you think, “Well, that’s too bad, but what are you going to do….?” Like this one in this week’s Weekly Toll:
The failure to deal with interpersonal conflicts among the people tasked with taking care of patients adversely affects patient safety and quality of care, according to a new study by VitalSmarts. More than 1,200 physicians, nurses and other healthcare professionals were asked about personnel problems in their organizations. The results, says VitalSmarts VP of Research David Maxfield, show that silence about slackers, timid supervisors, toxic peers and arrogant doctors is the real problem.
An effort to overturn a rule limiting methane emissions from oil and natural gas drilling has failed in the Senate – a first in the Trump administration’s ongoing effort to repeal Obama administration rules it deems burdensome to business.
The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), the world’s oldest professional safety organization, has completed the 2017 Society elections and congratulates its new leaders, whose terms begin July 1. Jim Smith, M.S., CSP, will become ASSE’s new president for 2017-18.
First DOL Blog post as U.S. Secretary of Labor
When President Trump nominated me to be U.S. Secretary of Labor, I had to sit down and explain to my two daughters that if confirmed, we would have to move from Miami. They wanted to know why. I tried to explain what being the Secretary of Labor meant in words that a four- and six-year-old could understand.
With many states legalizing marijuana, the cannabis industry has seen a boom in business. However, as with any industry, employers and workers who grow cannabis need to be equipped with the proper protective equipment while doing their job. In its May 2017 issue, The Synergist magazine explores the topic of personal protective equipment (PPE) for workers in this emerging industry.
A once-cozy relationship between unions and OSHA under the Obama administration has cooled –at least for now. Continuing its promise to roll back OSHA rules influenced by the Obama administration, the Trump administration has leveraged OSHA to withdraw one of its so-called pro-union rules.
At least half of the members of a key EPA scientific research panel have been dismissed, fueling speculation that they will be replaced by appointees from the very industries the EPA regulates. News sources report that nine of the 18-member Board of Scientific Counselors which evaluates research on climate change, water quality and chemical safety, among other areas, were let go after their three-year-terms ended. More terminations are expected. Board members are scientific, rather than political, nominees.
A FairWarning story
Three years ago, General Motors chief executive Mary Barra admitted that for years the automaker had concealed an ignition-switch defect, which has now been linked to at least 124 deaths. And she assured federal regulators that there would be a new pro-safety and pro-consumer attitude at the company.
An auto insulation manufacturer in suburban Toledo faces $569,463 in proposed penalties after an OSHA investigation following a report that a machine amputated a 46-year-old worker's right hand, wrist and part of his forearm.
Increasing affordability expected to hamper efforts to address global obesity epidemic
A new American Cancer Society study concludes that sugar-sweetened beverages have become more affordable in nearly every corner of the globe, and are likely to become even more affordable and more widely consumed. The study appears in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease, and concludes that without policy action to raise prices, global efforts to address the obesity epidemic will be hampered.
A Confined Space blog post
One of the main challenges of running an agency like OSHA is ensuring that a mid-20th century law adequately assures worker safety and health under 21st century working conditions. The economy and structure of work is very different than it was in 1970 when the Occupational Safety and Health Act was passed: for example, there far fewer unionized workplaces and far more “temporary” workers.
Investigators from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) are in Firestone, Colorado to examine what’s left of a home that blew up when an abandoned pipeline from a nearby well leaked gas into the basement. The explosion killed two people and left a third badly burned.