Welcome to hump day (6/9). Here’s what is driving conversations mid-week in Safetyland:
OSHA HAMMERS HOME ANOTHER HUGE FINE
This time the U.S. Postal Service gets nailed for safety violations related to electrical hazards found at two Philadelphia facilities after receiving complaints about both locations, according to an agency press release. Combined proposed penalties total $497,000.
In the first 8 days of June, OSHA has belted out fines of $125,000, $214,500, $346,000, $300,000 and now nearly $500,000.
This blitzkrieg is turning many heads in industry. Which is the idea.
OSHA RATCHETS UP GULF COAST CLEANUP PROTECTIONS
Here’s the scene: At this time, there are more than 13,000 cleanup workers employed by BP or its contractors; 1, 700 boats are supporting the response operations; and more than 1,800 federal employees are directly involved in the cleanup operations over four states.
Hazards range from heat, falls, drowning, fatigue, loud noise, sharp objects, as well as bites from insects, snakes, and other wild species native to the Gulf Coast area. Workers may also face exposure to crude oil, oil constituents and byproducts, dispersants, cleaning products and other chemicals being used in the cleanup process.
OSHA is now officially part of the Obama administration’s offensive to show the country the feds are on top of the calamity. According to OSHA: Every day, between 20 and 25 OSHA compliance officers travel to all staging areas to ensure that workers are protected from safety and health hazards. OSHA staff is in the field and on boats to make sure BP is protecting cleanup workers from health and safety hazards.
OSHA boss Dr. David Michaels is on the ground in Louisiana, touring today with Labor Secretary Hilda Solis. Solis has taken some heat for not putting in an appearance in the Gulf Coast until today.
MICHAELS FLIP FLOPS
Michaels is taking arrows for flip-flopping comments on BP’s cleanup effort. In May 25 letter to National Incident Commander Admiral Thad Allen, Michaels said BP’s worker safety and health training, protective equipment, and site monitoring “are not adequate for the current situation.”
Then Michaels told The Wall Street Journal last Thursday that BP has improvement its cleanup protections and OSHA had no need to take any enforcement actions; instead the agency is focusing on help BP comply with existing regs.
Yesterday, a Washington source told us that OSHA was “really losing patience” with BP’s safety culture flaws still on display at the Texas City refinery and in the Gulf cleanup. A mega fine might be coming. BP has already been fined $82 million by OSHA for failing to live up to its Texas City settlement agreement with the agency.
SOLIS SEEKS OUT VICTIMS
During her two-day tour of the Gulf region, the Labor Secretary has meetings scheduled with the down and out: African-American fishermen, reps from shrimp and oyster associations, workers from the African-American and Latino communities, and Vietnamese cleanup workers.
THE NUMBERS GAME
Senior Obama administration officials have visited the Gulf region 31 times since BP’s rig exploded on April 20, a Department of Labor press release is quick to point out. That’s every one from POTUS to the Interior Secretary, the Commerce Secretary, the Labor Secretary, Homeland Security Secretary, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, EPA administrator, the OSHA chief, and the Small Business Administration administrator.
Feel better now?
So far this year, at lease 16 people have jumped from high buildings at the Foxconn factory in Longhua, China. 20 more people were stopped by the company before they could attempted to kill themselves, according to an article the London paper, The Telegraph.
The factory cranks out a high volume of electronic gadgets and playthings for the Western world, such as Apple’s iPad.
The factory is a city housing and feeding 300,000 to 400,000 employees. Employees can put in weekly work hours up to 70 hours. Reports says up to 50,000 workers have been lost to burnout, and the rest are stretched to the breaking point trying to keep pace with the extraordinary demand for the iPad and other electronic toys.
Says one workers: “I know why all those people jumped. In here, nobody gives a damn about you.”