Accident_Workplace_wide.jpg
Feb. 1, 2018 by Katie Tracy

County Prosecutor in Washington State Indicts Construction Company Owner for Trench Collapse Death

On the morning of January 26, 2016, Seattle police were called to a construction site where a worker, Harold Felton, was trapped in a collapsed trench. By the time officers arrived, the rescue operation had turned into a recovery; Felton, 36, had died at the scene. 

Felton was working as part of a two-man team employed by Alki Construction to replace a sewer line. According to the police report, 10 minutes before the trench collapsed, the man working alongside Felton had moved to another area about 40 feet away to work on another part of the pipe. He heard a worrisome clunk that he thought sounded like tools hitting the pipe, so he went to check on Felton. Unable to find him, he immediately started digging and made a call to his employer and Alki's owner, Phillip Numrich, who had left the worksite to buy lunch. Numrich instructed him to call the police, then headed back to the worksite, where he and the worker continued to dig in an attempt to rescue Felton until first responders arrived at the scene and recovered Felton's body.   

In the immediate aftermath of the tragedy, according to the police report, Numrich suggested …

Dec. 20, 2017 by Katie Tracy
constructiondust-wide.jpg

President Trump planned and then starred in his own ribbon-cutting ceremony last week, symbolic of all the safeguards for health, safety and the environment that he intends to shred while in office. This mockery of the administration’s obligation to ensure the public is protected from harm caused by corner-cutting businesses coincided with the release of the Administration’s fall 2017 regulatory agenda. What this political stunt — and the rhetoric that goes along with it — really means, however, is that Trump cares more about reducing the sheer number of regulatory safeguards than he does about evaluating the benefits those safeguards provide to our health and safety.  

As with the spring 2017 iteration of the agenda, Trump makes clear he has no concern for working families. OSHA’s fall agenda includes 16 planned activities, up from 14 in the spring. Of the 16, seven are listed as in …

Nov. 20, 2017 by Katie Tracy
poultry-processing-line-wide.jpg

On Thanksgiving Day, families across the country will sit down for huge feasts, filling their bellies with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and lots of gravy. My mouth is watering just writing about it. In many households, it's tradition for each person at the table to say what they're thankful for and express their appreciation for the meal in front of them. But when it comes to that delicious meal, we often overlook the workers inside the poultry slaughter facilities and processing plants who do the incredibly labor-intensive and dangerous work required to bring our turkeys from farm to table. This year's the perfect time to get woke

At this very moment, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is considering a petition that would eliminate a standard that sets the maximum speed of poultry plants' "evisceration lines" – that's the line of hooks or …

Nov. 2, 2017 by Katie Tracy
WorkerSafetyCollage_wide.jpg

Scott Mugno, Vice President for Safety, Sustainability, and Vehicle Maintenance at Fed Ex Ground in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is President Trump's pick to head the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Although whispers of Mugno's possible nomination had spread across Washington, D.C., over the past several months, not much has been said about his credentials for the job. One major concern is Mugno's connection to the notoriously anti-regulatory U.S. Chamber of Commerce, for which he is currently the chairman of the OSHA subcommittee of the group's Labor Relations Committee. And as Jordan Barab, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor at OSHA, highlights in his excellent blog post on the nomination, Mugno expressed interest in sunsetting OSHA standards in comments he made at a Chamber event last year. 

When Mugno goes before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee for confirmation hearings, it will be imperative …

Oct. 30, 2017 by Katie Tracy
WorkplaceAccident_wide.jpg

Too often, workplace injuries and deaths result from company policies and practices that encourage and reward unacceptably risky behavior under the false pretense that cutting corners is standard practice and no one will get hurt. As a result, an average of 13 Americans are killed on the job every day, and many more are seriously injured. 

Click to visit Crimes Against Workers DatabaseIn many cases, these tragedies and the grave pain they impose on the victims' families, friends, and communities are preventable with basic safety measures. Nevertheless, employers and authorities commonly treat work-related deaths and injuries as "accidents" rather than investigating them as potential crimes. They simply pass these cases off to regulators at the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) or a state counterpart, which conducts an investigation and assesses what amounts to an insignificant civil penalty – a fine that can be as small as a few thousand dollars. Then, everyone …

Oct. 19, 2017 by Katie Tracy
TestTubes_wikimedia_wide.jpg

Individuals across the United States encounter hundreds of chemical substances every day and often simultaneously – in common household and hygiene products, in our food and drinking water, and in our air. Some of these chemicals present serious risks to our health and the environment and a heightened risk of harm for children, pregnant women, the elderly, and individuals with compromised immune systems. To this day, we are largely unprotected from all manner of chemical exposures, including chemicals widely known to be lethal and for which there is no safe level. 

In 2016, Congress passed and President Barack Obama signed into law the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act to address this problem head on by revising the weak Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and directing EPA to establish a comprehensive framework for evaluating chemicals and regulating those that pose unreasonable health and environmental …

Sept. 15, 2017 by Katie Tracy
FloodedCity_wide.jpg

In the wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, thousands of Texans and Floridians are out of work, some indefinitely. Without knowing when their employers might reopen for business (if at all) , many are uncertain how they're going to afford their next meal or purchase basic necessities, much less repair their damaged homes and property. At the same time, monthly bills are coming due.

Vice News recently shared one Houston family’s gripping story of how Harvey has devastated them financially. Guadalupe and her husband are undocumented immigrants living in Houston with their three daughters. He works as an electrician, and like many families across the country, they live paycheck-to-paycheck and do not have savings adequate to withstand an emergency. As Hurricane Harvey approached, Guadalupe’s husband was sent home early from work, and as of the time Vice ran its story on September 2, he had …

July 24, 2017 by Katie Tracy
Accident_Workplace_wide.jpg

When President Trump released his spring Unified Agenda last week, he made it abundantly clear that he has no interest in protecting workers from occupational injuries and diseases. The White House released the agenda amid what it called “Made in America” week, but instead of recognizing workers and advocating for safe and healthy jobs and fair wages, Trump brought manufacturers to the nation’s capital to show off their products. When it comes to working families, Trump is ignoring what should be his highest priority – ensuring that every person who leaves home for a job in the morning returns at the end of the day without injury or illness.

The regulatory agenda for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is devoid of any plans that would address the litany of significant health and safety hazards workers face on a daily basis. Rather, OSHA has cut down …

July 21, 2017 by Katie Tracy
WorkerSafetyCollage_wide.jpg

On Monday, July 17, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) convened a public meeting to hear input from stakeholders about how the agency might grow and strengthen its Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP). Given the change in administration, the announcement was no surprise. 

Growing the VPP had also been a priority of the George W. Bush administration, during which time OSHA made plans to add thousands of new participants despite having no evidence the program improved worker health and safety. Resource constraints ultimately tempered OSHA’s expansion plans, but not before the agency had damaged the VPP and eroded its integrity. With this history in mind, I attended this week’s stakeholder meeting to urge the agency to learn from the past and reevaluate the VPP’s performance and cost-effectiveness before it moves to expand it. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) or the Department of Labor (DOL …

July 17, 2017 by Katie Tracy
asbestos-danger-cc-wide.jpg

June 22 marked the one-year anniversary of the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, the first major update to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) since its original enactment in 1976. The measure set a one-year deadline for EPA to complete several actions to implement the law, including finalizing its procedural rules on chemical prioritization and risk evaluation and releasing key documents related to the initial ten chemicals the agency has chosen to evaluate. (See all implementation activities here.)

One of those initial ten chemicals is asbestos, as it should be, since EPA determined some 28 years ago that there's no safe level of exposure. In fact, based on this evidence, EPA attempted to phase out nearly all uses of asbestos in the United States, but the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the ban in 1991. The court said that EPA …

CPR HOMEPAGE
More on CPR's Work & Scholars.
June 19, 2020

Supreme Court Affirms Title VII Protections for LGBTQ+ Community

June 11, 2020

Court Order Okays OSHA Inaction on COVID-19

June 1, 2020

CPR Will Stand with Those Who Cannot Breathe

May 19, 2020

Testimony: Here's How OSHA Can Improve Its Whistleblower Protection Program

April 27, 2020

Workers Memorial Day 2020

April 20, 2020

Where Is OSHA?

April 9, 2020

News Release: Flawed CDC Guidance Endangers Workers’ Lives