As repercussions from the fatal Texas fertilizer plant continue to reverberate, a factory collapse in Bangladesh kills hundreds and a fuel barge explosion in Alabama critically burns three workers. Here are the week's top OEHS-related stories as featured on

Weekly News Round-UpCosts to treat heart failure expected to more than double by 2030

By 2030, you — and every U.S. taxpayer — could be paying $244 a year to care for heart failure patients, according to an American Heart Association policy statement. The statement, published online in the American Heart Association journal Circulation: Heart Failure, predicts that the number of people with heart failure could climb 46 percent from 5 million in 2012 to 8 million in 2030.

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Bangladesh factory owners ignored cracks in walls

Disregarded police order to evacuate prior to fatal collapse

The Associated Press is reporting that officials at the Bangladesh garment factory that collapsed on Tuesday, killing at least 238 people, ignored orders to evacuate the building prior to the disaster.

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Foodborne infections in U.S. up overall in 2012

The nation’s annual food safety report card is out and it shows that 2012 rates of infections from two germs spread commonly through food have increased significantly when compared to a baseline period of 2006-2008, while rates of most others have not changed during the same period.

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WTC first responders have more health problems than general population

Study finds asthma, PTSD, depression common

In the first long-term study of the health impacts of the World Trade Center (WTC) collapse on September 11, 2001, researchers at The Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York have found substantial and persistent mental and physical health problems among 9/11 first responders and recovery workers.

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Texas to look into locations of other fertilizer plants

Some likely to be in populated areas

The spectacle of frightened elderly nursing home patients being rescued from debris following last week’s explosion at a Texas fertilizer plant had a jarring affect on many Americans. So did photos of debris where approximately 80 homes once stood, and pictures of an apartment complex that had its windows blasted out by the explosion.

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Ala. barge explosion injures three workers

Shipyard evacuated

Three oil company workers are hospitalized in critical condition this morning after explosions and fires aboard two fuel barges in Mobile, Ala. Sources say the barges, which contained liquid gasoline, were in the process of being cleaned when the incident began in a ship channel near the George C. Wallace Tunnel.

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OSHA readying two new NEPs

Program helps target agency resources

OSHA is developing two additional health National Emphasis Programs (NEPs) that will take affect this year: Nursing and Residential Care Facilities and Isocyanates. NEPs, along with Local Emphasis Programs (LEPs), target high-hazard industries whose workers face increased risks of severe illnesses or severe injuries.

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Booming sales of novelty helmets boost toll of motorcycle deaths

A FairWarning report

The results were tragic but not surprising last May when Suzanne Randa and her fiance, Thomas Donohoe, crashed while riding Donohoe’s Harley Davidson on Highway 79 near the Southern California city of Loma Linda.

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At least 123 dead in Bangladesh factory collapse

Rubble being searched for survivors

An estimated 123 people are dead after the collapse of a Bangladesh garment factory building Wednesday morning, news sources are reporting. The death toll could rise; many more may be trapped in the rubble.

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Worker safety bill faces uphill battle

Measure has tougher penalties for workplace hazards

A bill that would strengthen the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) is being hailed as a necessary step for protecting U.S. workers by the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH).

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Anti-reg environment to blame for fertilizer plant explosion, says National COSH

Group: Texas has disregard for workers’ well-being

An occupational safety organization says last week’s deadly fertilizer plant explosion in Texas is the result of that state’s anti-regulatory environment. The explosion at the West Fertilizer Company killed 14 people and injured many more.

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OSHA to conduct 1,000+ fewer inspections in 2014

Enforcement approach being adjusted

OSHA has indicated that in FY 2014, it will conduct a total of 39,250 federal inspections – 31,400 safety inspections and 7,850 health inspections.

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New ways to battle high-rise fires

A “huge problem” in U.S., rest of world

The results of a landmark study on high-rise fires and the best ways to battle them were released at the 2013 Metropolitan Fire Chiefs Conference in Phoenix, Ariz. last week, prompting many fire departments throughout the United States to re-examine the ways they deal with fires in tall buildings.

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OSHA’s “to do” list

Rules, rulemaking and other standards activity planned

With Agency requested funding in FY 2014, OSHA projects that it will issue four Final Rules (Infectious Disease, Recordkeeping Modernization, Beryllium, and Vertical tandem Lifts), seven Notices of Proposed Rulemaking (Standards Improvement Project Phase IV, Infectious Disease, Injury and Illness Prevention Programs, Combustible Dust, Backover Protection, and 2 consensus standard update actions), and initiate SBREFA reviews for five rules (Combustible Dust, Backover Protection, one chemical standard, and two other new initiatives).

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GAO gives state workplace safety agencies a failing grade

Lack of resources, high staff turnover affect performance

In a report released Friday (pdf), the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that some of the state-run occupational safety and health programs have failed to meet minimum workplace safety inspection goals because of state budget cuts, reduced staffing, and policies that limit their ability to retain safety and health inspectors.

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West Fertilizer reportedly downplayed risks at plant

Worst case scenario: Brief release of gas, no injuries

The West Fertilizer plant that was the site of last week’s devastating explosion and loss of life had at least 50,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia onsite -- yet the site’s operators told the EPA and public safety officials that it posed no risk of fire or explosion, according to the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH).

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Pending bill would give OSHA more enforcement tools

Changes include felony charges for certain violations

The Protecting America's Workers Act currently pending in Congress would strengthen and modernize the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 by giving OSHA additional tools to ensure that employers promptly correct hazardous working conditions, protect workers from retaliation when they blow the whistle on unsafe working conditions, and hold employers accountable for violations that cause death or serious injury to workers.

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West Fertilizer facility not inspected for years

ATF to conduct investigation into explosion

The West Fertilizer Company facility that exploded in a deadly blast last week had not been inspected by OSHA in at least 10 years, according to advocacy group Public Citizen, which says too many similar facilities operate “with very little oversight” from regulatory agencies.

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OSHA: Pa. health care facility exposed workers to bloodborne pathogen hazards

Penalties total $46,800

OSHA has cited Keystone Pain Institute with eight serious health violations involving bloodborne pathogen hazards at the company's Altoona facility. The February inspection by OSHA's Pittsburgh Area Office was prompted by a complaint and resulted in $46,800 in proposed penalties.

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