Good Friday morning,


Preliminary results from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries released Thursday show a decline in workplace fatalities from 4,340 workers in 2009 from a final count of 5,214 fatal work injuries in 2008.

The 2009 total represents the smallest annual preliminary total since the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) program was first conducted in 1992. Based on this preliminary count, the rate of fatal work injury for U.S. workers in 2009 was 3.3 per 100,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers, down from a final rate of 3.7 in 2008.

ECONOMIC FACTORS played a major role in the fatal work injury decrease in 2009. says BLS.

Total hours worked fell by 6 percent in 2009 following a 1 percent decline in 2008, and some industries that have historically accounted for a significant share of fatal work injuries, such as construction, experienced even larger declines in employment or hours worked.

Plus, some source documents used by CFOI State partners to identify and verify fatal work injuries were delayed, due at least in part to fiscal constraints at some of the governmental agencies who regularly provide source documentation for the program.

The WHOLESALE TRADE industry was one of the few major private industry sectors reporting higher numbers of fatal work injuries in 2009.

Fatal work injuries in the private CONSTRUCTION sector declined by 16 percent in 2009 following the decline of 19 percent in 2008.

Fatalities among NON-HISPANIC BLACK OR AFRICAN-AMERICAN workers were down 24 percent. This worker group also experienced a slightly larger decline in total hours worked than non-Hispanic white or Hispanic workers.

Transportation incidents, which accounted for nearly two-fifths of all the fatal work injuries in 2009, fell 21 percent from the 2,130 fatal work injuries reported in 2008.

Workplace SUICIDES declined 10 percent from a series high of 263 cases in 2008 to 237 cases in 2009. However, this 2009 preliminary count of workplace suicides is the second highest annual total reported by the fatality census.


This little nugget of news was tucked in at the end of a recent OSHA press release:

“The U.S. Department of Labor has filed an ENTERPRISE-WIDE COMPLAINT against the U.S. Postal Service for electrical work safety violations. The complaint asks the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission to order the USPS to correct electrical violations at all its facilities nationwide. This complaint marks the first time OSHA has sought enterprise-wide relief as a remedy.”

What’d you think the odds are this will be the last time OSHA seeks “enterprise-wide relief”?

The current OSHA regime is showing there are creative ways of jacking up penalties and expanding enforcement without Congress passing OSHA reform legislation


Earlier in the summer we thought chances were better than ever than after 40 years Congress would act on OSHA reform legislation. The House made its move, as expected with its heavy Democratic majority. But several Senators balked at the OSHA increases in penalties and criminal liabilities being piggybacked on tragedy-induced mine safety reforms. When Congress returns after Labor Day the window is just too small before the November elections, and the business opposition is just getting started, for OSHA reform to stand a chance of passage.


Congress did act on mine safety before recessing for the dog days:

The recently passed FINANCIAL REFORM LEGISLATION will require publicly-held mining companies to provide information on MSHA enforcement actions, legal proceedings and fatalities in filings to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Specifically, S. 3450 will mandate that mining companies, in quarterly and annual so-called “8-K” filings with the SEC, disclose the total number of S&S violations, 104(b) failure to abate orders, 104(d) unwarrantable failure citations and orders, 107(a) imminent danger orders, and Sec. 110 flagrant violations.

Disclosure would also have to include the total dollar value of all proposed penalties, a list of sites under a pattern of violations or potential pattern under 104(e), any pending legal action before the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission, and any mining-related fatalities during the reporting period.

Immediate notification to the SEC and shareholders would be necessary when a company gets a shutdown order under section 107(a) or notice that a mine has a potential or actual pattern of violations. The bill was introduced by Sens. Jay Rockefeller and the late Robert Byrd.

Why not extend this exercise in accountability and transparency to OSHA recordkeeping?


Nominate your hazardous chemical for updated regulation by OSHA. That’s the gist of a new process put in place by OSHA this week to gradually, very gradually, update 100s of permissible exposure limits (PELs)

It’s an Internet-based nomination process. Nominations will be accepted from August 16 until August 27.

OSHA boss Dr. David Michaels: “I am hopeful that this forum will assist us in… helping us to identify those chemicals on which we should be focusing our efforts.”

Expect a long, hard go of it. OSHA, as always, has resource restraints, and it appears major resources will go to developing Dr. Michaels’ pet project, the injury and illness prevention program.


You wonder if the good folks at the U.S. Chemical Safety Board feel like voices crying in the wilderness.

The CSB has no regulatory authority. It makes recommendations.

Yesterday, CSB Chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso called on Mississippi legislators and officials to increase safeguards at oil and gas sites across the state. Dr. Moure-Eraso spoke at a meeting of stakeholders convened by State Senator Billy Hudson to discuss the possible introduction of a bill requiring public safety measures at oil and gas sites. The initiative follows an October 31, 2009, explosion in Carnes, MS, where two teenage boys aged 16 and 18 were tragically killed when a gas condensate tank suddenly exploded.

The CSB found similar accidents have occurred at rural oil and gas sites in states across the country, killing and injuring children, teenagers, and young adults. These individuals were seemingly unaware of the significant explosion and fire hazards at oil and gas production well and storage sites.

According to the CSB investigation, 26 similar accidents at oil and gas sites resulted in 44 fatalities among teenagers and young adults between 1983 and 2010. The Board found that since 2003 alone, oil and gas site explosions caused 16 deaths to members of the public, all less than 25 years old. A 2003 explosion in Long Lake, Texas, killed four teenagers; a 2005 explosion in Ripley, Oklahoma, killed a 19-year old man and a 20-year-old man; a 2007 explosion in Mercedes, Texas, killed three teenagers; and a 2007 explosion in Routt National Forest, Colorado, killed two teenagers.


Another sign of the anxious times we are slogging through: a Zogby Interactive Surveys released Thursday finds the majority of voters don't believe government or BP on the oil spill

Majorities of likely voters do not believe that either British Petroleum or the federal government have been truthful with the public about the Gulf oil spill.

Only 8 percent believe the feds have been “very truthful.” Only 3 percent say the same about BP.

More than one-third (34 percent) believe BP has been “very untruthful.” More than one in four (27 percent) say the same about the feds.

Bottom line: 56 percent say the feds and 67 percent say BP have been “untruthful.”


EPA announced this week it is hosting seven public hearings on the agency’s proposal to regulate the disposal and management of coal ash from coal-fired power plants.

EPA’s proposal is the FIRST-EVER NATIONAL EFFORT to ensure the safe disposal and management of coal ash from coal-fired power plants.

August 30: Hyatt Regency, 2799 Jefferson Davis Highway, Arlington, Va September 2: Grand Hyatt, 1750 Welton Street, Denver, Colo. September 8: Hyatt Regency Dallas, 300 Reunion Boulevard, Dallas, Texas September 14: Holiday Inn Charlotte (Airport), 2707 Little Rock Road, Charlotte, N.C. September 16: Hilton Chicago, 720 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Ill. September 21: Omni Hotel, 530 William Penn Place, Pittsburgh, Pa. September 28: Seelbach Hilton, 500 Fourth Street, Louisville, Ky.

EPA says the need for national management criteria and regulation was emphasized by the December 2008 spill of coal ash from a surface impoundment near Kingston, Tenn.

The proposal will ensure for the first time that protective controls, such as liners and ground water monitoring, are in place at new landfills to protect groundwater and human health. Existing surface impoundments will also require liners, with strong incentives to close these impoundments and transition to safer landfills which store coal ash in dry form. The proposed regulations will ensure stronger oversight of the structural integrity of impoundments and promote environmentally safe and desirable forms of recycling coal ash, known as beneficial uses, according to EPA.

EPA has proposed two main management approaches, one of which phases out surface impoundments and moves all coal ash to landfills; the other allows coal ash to be disposed in surface impoundments, but with stricter safety criteria.


“Separating the best CEOs from the dolts,” by Robert Sutton, published August 16 in the Financial Times