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I received an email today from Leo Gerard, the Int’l President of the United Steelworkers, the 850,000 person-strong union of men and women employed in Canada and the U.S. who work in the metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining and the service industries.  His email simply read:

Excellent video celebrating 60th anniversary of UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Please watch and remember how powerful it is to treat every human being and our planet with dignity.  Regards, leo.

Dear President Gerard. Thanks.

Watch it (00:04:31)

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Our post on preventing falls among the elderly has been included in the latest edition of Hourglass, a monthly blog carnival devoted to the biology of aging. Alvaro at SharpBrains has assembled recent aging-related posts in a creative format; for more, check out Ouroboros for the Hourglass archive, submission info, and upcoming schedule.

Blog carnivals  are regular compilations of blog posts on a chosen topic. Coturnix at A Blog Around the Clock provides a comprehensive overview of the carnival concept and regularly links to new carnival editions. Here are just a few more carnivals related to public health:

If you’ve got a favorite public health-related carnival to share, leave a link in the comments.

This happens. We live with that.”

These are the words of ironworker Luis Guzman, who was working at the site of a new Manhattan skyscraper Tuesday when his fellow worker, Anthony Espito, 43, fell 40 stories (roughly 400 feet) to the ground. He was killed instantly. It appeared Mr. Espito was in fact wearing a safety harness, but it wasn’t attached to anything.

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Ken Ward of the Charleston Gazette has been following closely and reporting on the deadly blast on Aug 28 at the multinational Bayer CropScience’s plant in Institute, WV.  His first story (here) indicated that witnesses saw a red fireball at about 10:25 pm, and that thousands of residents were told to shelter in place, and his next story reported on the plant’s rocky safety record.  Mr. Barry Withrow, 45, who was killed in the blast was buried on Sept 1.  This small WV town is well known in public health circles because of its notorious connection to Bhopal, India and that city’s experience with a deadly MIC release in 1984 at a Union Carbide plant which killed 3,000 and maimed thousands more.

Ken Ward’s continuing investigation offers extremely disturbing news today, with the Charleston Gazette’s headline reading: Bayer withheld details of blast in 911 calls.  He writes:

“Bayer CropScience officials repeatedly refused to give local emergency responders details about last week’s explosion and fire, according to recordings of phone calls between the company’s Institute plant and Kanawha County’s Metro 911 Center.  Plant officials told dispatchers that there was an ‘emergency’ in progress, but said the company instructed them not to provide more details.”

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The Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) confirmed yesterday that it has referred evidence related to the Crandall Canyon disaster to a federal district attorney for a possible criminal investigation.  Murray Energy was assessed a $1.34 million civil penalty on July 24 for violations related to the massive ground failure which took the lives of nine men, but the Mine Act of 1977 also provides for criminal penalties which include up to one year in jail.  (In contrast, the OSH Act’s criminal provisions only allows up to 6 months in jail.)  The referral was made through the Mine Safety and Health Review Commission to the U.S. Attorney for Utah Brett Tolman.

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Will someone just go and put up a sign “Proudly Screwing Workers: 2,827 Straight Days” on the Labor Department building? 

Late yesterday I learned that Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, Asst. Secretary Leon Sequeira and her other political minions sent a proposed rule to the Federal Register which will change the process by which OSHA and MSHA assess workers’ risk to health-harming contaminants. 

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Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, her Solicitor and other political operatives in DOL continue to dismiss requests from Cong. George Miller (D-CA) and Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) for documents related to the development of her draft risk assessment proposal.  The latest non-response, dated Aug 5, refers five times to the almighty “deliberative process” as a reason for refusing to disclose information related to the outside contractors who were involved in its development.  That’s just plain hogwash.

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by Nathan Fetty

An editorial in today’s New York Times is the latest media piece about the abysmal failures surrounding last summer’s Crandall Canyon mine disaster in Utah.  Now that investigators have revealed how the company knew of the mine’s dangers, the Times says, a criminal probe is in order. Plus, MSHA’s deference to the company’s flawed engineering plan only made matters worse.
Clearly, as the Times points out, MSHA’s aversion to hands-on enforcement has led to disastrous consequences.

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On July 28, five representatives of the crane industry met with OMB OIRA, including several who were members of the OSHA Neg/Reg committee, to press OMB to complete its review of the agency’s proposed rule on cranes and derricks.  The existing OSHA rule dates back to 1971.  Efforts to update the crane safety standards began in 2003 when a negotiated rulemaking (Neg/Reg) committee was appointed and given just 1 year to complete its work.  Since then the draft proposal has languished at OSHA and with Secretary Chao, until it was finally sent on June 17 for final White House scrutiny.  This meeting with crane industry representatives who support the improved safety standards, including certification of crane operators, follows on the heels of a June 26 meeting by reps of the National Association of Home Builders (previous TPH post) who are apparently seeking exemption from the OSHA rule.

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by revere, cross-posted at Effect Measure

The FDA is saying they still aren’t sure how over 1200 Salmonella stpaul cases resulted from food chain contamination but they are saying its from jalapeno peppers grown in Mexico. This from a press release July 25:

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