Sleepy train engineers, robotic co-workers and distracted killers were among the top safety stories featured on this week.

EPA moves closer to implementing chemical safety act

February 9, 2018

The EPA this week proposed a fees rule under the amended Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) that it says will give the agency the resources it needs to review chemicals for safety. Under the Frank Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, the proposed fees on certain chemical manufacturers, including importers and processors, would provide what the agency calls “a sustainable source of funding” for implementing the amended law. 

A NIOSH Science Blog post

Medical mystery: What sent a pregnant prison worker to the hospital?

Julie Tisdale-Pardi MA

February 8, 2018

Jasmine worked at a prison in central California that provided long-term housing and services for minimum, medium, and maximum custody inmates. She was 34 years old and had worked at the prison for six years. Jasmine was a correctional officer, and her job duties included security checks, patrolling the facility, and occasionally grid searches and digging for contraband in the soil.

NTSB opens docket on Teterboro aviation accident investigation

February 8, 2018

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has opened the public docket Wednesday on its ongoing investigation of a Gates Learjet 35A crash that occurred during a circling approach to a runway at Teterboro Airport, Teterboro, New Jersey, killing both crewmembers. The May 15, 2017 accident left a debris field that was 440 feet long and 100 feet wide.

This type of injury disproportionately fatal to construction workers

February 8, 2018

Caught-in or between injuries killed more construction workers than those in any other industry between 2011 and 2015, according to a new CPWR Quarterly Data Report from the Center for Construction Research & Training. The injury category includes workers killed when trenches, walls, equipment, or materials collapse, as well as people pinched/compressed between objects and equipment or caught in moving machinery.

Violence against workers at Colorado nursing home

February 8, 2018

Two complaints about workplace violence at a Colorado nursing home led OSHA investigators to uncover many more incidents – not all of them reported. The investigation at the Pioneer Health Care Center in Rocky Ford was opened in August 2017, based on two complaints. OSHA subsequently identified five documented incidents of workplace violence in 2017 that resulted in employee injuries, along with several unreported incidents.

FDA says popular herbal drug is dangerous opioid

February 7, 2018

A popular herbal remedy for – among other things – opioid abuse has opioid properties that can lead to abuse, addiction and even death, says the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). A scientific analysis of the botanical substance kratom identified opioid properties in its compounds. In other words, kratom compounds may affect the body just like opioids.

Two train accidents, same cause, says NTSB

February 7, 2018

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Tuesday determined that two commuter railroad terminal accidents in the New York area were caused by engineer fatigue resulting from undiagnosed severe obstructive sleep apnea. The Sept. 29, 2016, accident on the New Jersey Transit railroad at Hoboken, New Jersey, killed one person, injured 110, and resulted in major damage to the station.

NIOSH to lead the way on robot-worker safety

February 7, 2018

It’s not science fiction: robots are invading our world in a big way. That invasion, fueled by dramatic advancements in technology that make the devices more sophisticated than ever, is resulting in their increased use in workplaces, among other spheres. With this in mind, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has established a virtual Center for Occupational Robotics Research that will specifically address the safety and health implications for worker-robot interactions.

A NTSB Safety Compass blog post

Most Wanted List Progress Report: Highway Safety

Robert Molloy PhD

February 7, 2018

We’re now midway through the 2017–2018 Most Wanted List cycle, and we’re eager to learn how this year will measure up to previous years. The past 2 years have resulted in an increase in highway traffic fatalities­­—from 32,000 roadway deaths per year in 2014 to more than 37,000 in 2016­­—so clearly, improvements are vital.

State level enforcement: Workers at risk from Washington to Florida

February 6, 2018

Koch Foods of Gainesville, LLC., was cited for exposing employees to amputation hazards; and failing to provide fall protection, identify which employees were using hazardous energy control locks, and train employees exposed to noise hazards. Proposed penalties total $208,977.

A FairWarning story

What happens when a driver kills someone while fiddling with a cellphone? Often, not much

Paul Feldman

February 6, 2018

The victims include a Bible college student in Iowa who was bicycling home from work, a 13-year-old Michigan boy riding in his older sister’s car and a Minnesota school bus driver picking up the morning newspaper in front of his home. All were killed in recent years by distracted drivers who had been texting or looking at their GPS. Yet none of the drivers responsible for those deaths spent more than a few days behind bars.

No video from school bus fire that killed 2

February 6, 2018

The mystery of why two people failed to exit a burning school bus last December in Pottawattamie County, Iowa may never be solved, because the equipment that videotaped the bus’ interior was severely damaged by the fire. That limitation will not stop the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) from forging ahead with its investigation into the early morning Dec. 12, 2017 incident that killed the 74-year-old driver and a 16-year-old student.

How a La. manufacturer cut workplace injuries by nearly 80 percent

February 6, 2018

A manufacturer of storage tanks and pressure vessels for the petrochemical, paper, and energy industries sharply reduced its recordable injury rate after reaching out to OSHA’s On-Site Consultation Program to help it identify and reduce workplace hazards. James Machine Works, LLC (JMW), which has been family owned for three generations, has grown from three to 160 employees since it was founded in 1927.

Oil industry group unveils corporate responsibility tools

February 5, 2018

An oil and gas industry organization has developed a set of tools intended to help make the business case for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). IPIECA, the oil and gas industry association’s for environmental and social issues, says the tools can also be used to improve internal company due diligence processes for social performance.

Staffing co. owner sold OSHA training certificates under false pretenses

February 5, 2018

A federal jury in Atlanta has convicted a former co-owner of a staffing company of convincing job applicants they needed OSHA training certificates for positions that did not require them – and then selling them the certifications. Erick Powell who operated the National Vocation Group, was convicted of wire fraud. A second defendant and co-owner, Ahmad McCormick, pleaded guilty to wire fraud on August 31, 2017.

1/5 of U.S. asthma deaths may be due to workplace exposures

February 5, 2018

In a startling new report released by the CDC, researchers identified 204–389 deaths among adults that occurred annually between 1999 and 2016 that could be attributable to occupational exposures -- and were therefore potentially preventable. The fatality figures cited represent an estimated 11-21 percent of all adult asthma deaths.

Amtrak blames CSX for fatal train wreck

February 5, 2018

The President and CEO of Amtrak is laying the blame for Sunday’s fatal train collision in South Carolina on CSX Corp. Amtrak engineer Michael Kempf, 54 and 36-year-old conductor Michael Cella were killed and more than 100 people were injured – two of them critically - when an Amtrak passenger train slammed into a CSX freight train that was parked on a side track.