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Connecting the dots: ‘compliance assistance’ to ‘destined to fail’

Tom Bethell of The Mountain Eagle urges us (and policymakers) to read the independent investigation of MSHA and the Crandall Canyon disaster, by two former MSHA District Managers, to understand how the Secretary of Labor’s demand for ‘compliance assistance’ programs set the groundwork for the deadly workplace conditions for our nation’s mine workers.  Posted with permission from The Mountain Eagle […]

MSHA, OSHA, and “Compliance Assistance”

By Liz Borkowski  Although work has begun on a fifth borehole into the Crandall Canyon mine, officials acknowledged yesterday that the six miners may not be found. This LA Times article describes the anguishing choice between leaving the miners underground – a notion “akin to soldiers leaving comrades on the battlefield” – and risking more […]

Fixing OSHA: No Easy Task for the Obama Administration

By Rena Steinzor, cross-posted from ACSblog On the list of federal agencies decimated by the Bush administration, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) deserves to be placed right near the top. Here is an agency that for decades has struggled with a tiny budget to get the job done, only to be taken over […]

Why Miners Die

by Tom Bethell Twenty-nine coal miners lost their lives in last week’s massive explosion at Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia. Why? Part of the answer to that question will have to wait until the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) conducts its investigation of the disaster.  Only then will we […]

Obama’s spending freeze and OSHA

Today’s Washington Post headline, “Obama to propose freeze on government spending,” likely sent a chill down the spines of officials in charge of many federal agencies.   In tomorrow night’s State of the Union address the President is expected to announce a moratorium on new discretionary spending which would include Department of Labor programs to advance workers’ rights and enhance health and […]

Joe Main and MSHA: What I would have asked him

by Ken Ward, Jr.  cross-posted from Coal Tattoo The last person the U.S. Senate confirmed to run the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration without a confirmation hearing was named Dave D. Lauriski.  We know how that turned out … Lauriski proceeded to dismantle MSHA and a terrible series of disasters followed. It doesn’t seem […]

Tinkering, or real changes to OSHA VPP?

In May, the Government Accountability Office issued a critical report assessing OSHA’s program for monitoring its designated Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) sites.  There are about 2,200 of these VPP site across the country which have met the written program and on-site evaluation criteria.  A VPP designation exempts the worksite from programmed OSHA inspections, and if an inspection is conducted—because of a complaint, referral or fatality/catastrophe—-the employer […]

IG slams Bush’s OSHA, twice in one day

The Dept of Labor’s Inspector General issued not one, but two reports yesterday criticizing OSHA’s management practices, and fueling calls for the prompt appointment of competent, worker-safety committed leaders to get the agency back on track.  The first IG report concerns the “consulting services” provided by Mr. Randy Kimlin, an advisor to (and South Carolina buddy of) former OSHA chief Ed […]

NIOSH Struggles to Help Flavoring Workers

As we’ve noted before, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health was the federal entity that responded most appropriately to respiratory problems among workers exposed to the butter-flavoring chemical diacetyl. They evaluated the hazards at workplaces using diacetyl and recommended steps to reduce exposures; as affected workers were probably sad to learn, though, NIOSH […]

OSHA revises its field ops manual

OSHA released on Friday, Jan 9, a new Field Operations Manual (FOM) for OSHA compliance officers and their supervisors who work in OSHA’s area and regional offices.  The 322-page manual is the procedural how-to guide for scheduling and conducting inspections, documenting violations of workplace safety and health standards, and proposing penalties.  In the news release announcing the new manual for […]