So why did the media choose to cover around the clock a terrorist bombing that killed fewer people and is extremely rare while all but ignoring an industrial explosion that killed more people, is far more common and is far easier to prevent? …death in the workplace is a much more real possibility for almost all Americans than is death at the hands of a terrorist. In 2011, 4,609 Americans were killed in workplace accidents while only 17 Americans died at the hands of terrorists — about the same number as were crushed to death by their televisions or furniture. One could argue that terrorists get more attention because they intentionally aim to kill people, but disasters like at Upper Big Branch are also the result of companies violating workplace safety laws.
—  Mike Elk: The Texas fertilizer plant explosion cannot be forgotten
A 29-year psychiatric nurse, who requested that his name not be used for fear of his employer’s reaction, reports that there are always two to three nurses out of 30 absent due to workplace injuries in the closed psychiatric unit where he works. He reports that the mental health patients he sees are younger and stronger, while showing higher levels of violence, than those in the past. In his career this nurse has suffered a broken ankle, a scratched face, a beating resulting in 12 stitches in his head, and an assault to his jaw requiring two-and-a-half-weeks’ medical leave. As hospital workplace violence increases, he fears that fewer young people will be interested in becoming nurses.
Texas has always prided itself on its free-market posture. It is the only state that does not require companies to contribute to workers’ compensation coverage. It boasts the largest city in the country, Houston, with no zoning laws. It does not have a state fire code, and it prohibits smaller counties from having such codes. Some Texas counties even cite the lack of local fire codes as a reason for companies to move there.

But Texas has also had the nation’s highest number of workplace fatalities — more than 400 annually — for much of the past decade.

because i love #scandal and i love to spoof… pope & associates new hire orientation video.

“Are you wearing the right safety equipment?”

From the series:  World War II Posters, 1942 - 1945

June is National Safety Month and the National Archives will be celebrating Safety and Health Week June 8-12 in the Washington, DC area. usnatarchives staff have contributed some of their favorite health and safety related documents to help get us started, including this vintage World War II-era poster featuring a somewhat confused welder. 

7 Biggest ‘Has DC Done Something Stupid Today’ Stories of 2013


  If you haven’t heard of it, The Outhouse maintains a benevolent public service website called and its purpose should be fairly easy to figure out.  It’s a lot of work to keep track of how many times DC screws up, often in easily avoidable ways and usually in spectacular fashion. One morning, over a hot cup of black coffee in The Outhouse Newsroom, a plan was hatched to definitively track these blunders in the style of a workplace accident sign.  A few hours and some hastily written HTML and PHP later, was born, and legions of fans wondering how long its been since DC last committed an epic PR fail or drove beloved creators from the company have been able to find out with one click ever since.

Here are seven of the biggest stories of 2013 (in no particular order):

Read 'em here!  (not a slideshow, we don’t do that crap)

The Absurd Way McDonald’s Expects Workers to Treat Burns

On Tuesday, McDonald’s workers throughout the U.S. protested the corporation’s unsafe working conditions, claiming they were instructed to treat workplace burns with condiments like mustard and mayonnaise. The protests come after McDonald’s workers announced Monday that they’ve filed 28 health and safety complaints in nearly 20 cities against the company.

"We were about to put our hands through a whole new type of hurt."

Gabriel Thompson spent a summer working at an Alabama poultry plant, where he observed the hidden health and safety crisis poultry workers face. In this week’s issue of The Nation, Thompson reports on the widespread dangers poultry workers face, and the reason things are about to get a whole lot worse:

We were about to put our hands through a whole new type of hurt. I was soon tearing through more than 7,000 chicken breasts each night (I worked the graveyard shift), while nearby workers sliced up countless birds with knives and scissors. The massive plant was capable of killing and processing nearly 1.5 million birds a week, and the pace was as relentless as such numbers suggest. We often didn’t even have time to wipe bits of chicken flesh from our faces, and I took to popping ibuprofen during breaks to quell the swelling in my hands. 

One (worker) was unable to hold a glass of water; another had three surgeries on her wrists; a third had discovered, after a visit to the doctor, that her thumb joint had almost disappeared after twelve years of line work. She told me her doctor had taken a vein from her leg and wrapped it around her thumb in an attempt to replace the missing cartilage. “Everyone on the line had hand problems,” she said.

When the government set the maximum line speed at poultry plants—currently it’s ninety-one birds a minute—it failed to take worker safety into consideration. Instead, the limit was determined by the US Department of Agriculture, based on food safety concerns. And here’s something even worse: in January the USDA proposed a new method for poultry inspection that would allow plants to run lines at 175 birds a minute. That’s nearly double the current limit. 

Read the entire story here.

Photo from Flickr user USDAgov under CC BY 2.0

FALLS ARE THE LEADING CAUSE OF DEATH IN CONSTRUCTION. In 2010, there were 264 fall fatalities (255 falls to lower level) out of 774 total fatalities in construction. These deaths are preventable.

The National Campaign to Prevent Falls in Construction first launched on April 26, 2012 as a government-labor-management partnership with CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), CPWR-The Center for Construction Research and Training (a NIOSH-supported National Construction Center), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), state health departments, private industry, trade associations, academia, and professional and labor organizations. The campaign encourages residential-construction contractors, workers, and others in the industry to work safely at heights and use the right equipment.

This year we are asking employers to join our ongoing campaign and the National Fall Prevention Safety Stand-Down during the week of June 2-6, 2014. Set aside time during that week to have an open discussion with your employees about falls and how to prevent them. Last year, nearly 2,500 employers and over 50,000 workers took part in regional stand-downs that were held around the country raising awareness of fall hazards and how to prevent them. This year our goal is to involve 25,000 employers and 500,000 workers. If we meet this goal, we will have touched almost 1 out of 10 construction workers in the country.

Falls can be prevented and lives can be saved through three simple steps:

This is part of OSHA’s nationwide outreach campaign to raise awareness among workers and employers about the hazards of falls from ladders, scaffolds and roofs. The educational resources page gives workers and employers information about falls and how to prevent them. There are also training tools for employers to use and posters to display at their worksites. Many of the new resources target vulnerable workers with limited English proficiency.

We invite you to join in this effort by helping to reach workers and employers in your community with the resources you find on this site. OSHA will continue to add information and tools to this page throughout the year.

OSHA has partnered with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) - Construction Sector on this nationwide outreach campaign to raise awareness among workers and employers about common fall hazards in construction, and how falls from ladders, scaffolds and roofs can be prevented and lives can be saved. Here’s how:

PLAN ahead to get the job done safely
When working from heights, such as ladders, scaffolds, and roofs, employers must plan projects to ensure that the job is done safely. Begin by deciding how the job will be done, what tasks will be involved, and what safety equipment may be needed to complete each task.

When estimating the cost of a job, employers should include safety equipment, and plan to have all the necessary equipment and tools available at the construction site. For example, in a roofing job, think about all of the different fall hazards, such as holes or skylights and leading edges, then plan and select fall protection suitable to that work, such as personal fall arrest systems (PFAS).

PROVIDE the right equipment
Workers who are six feet or more above lower levels are at risk for serious injury or death if they should fall. To protect these workers, employers must provide fall protection and the right equipment for the job, including the right kinds of ladders, scaffolds, and safety gear.

Different ladders and scaffolds are appropriate for different jobs. Always provide workers with the kind they need to get the job done safely. For roof work, there are many ways to prevent falls. If workers use personal fall arrest systems (PFAS), provide a harness for each worker who needs to tie off to the anchor. Make sure the PFAS fits, and regularly inspect all fall protection equipment to ensure it’s still in good condition and safe to use.

TRAIN everyone to use the equipment safely
Falls can be prevented when workers understand proper set-up and safe use of equipment, so they need training on the specific equipment they will use to complete the job. Employers must train workers in hazard recognition and in the care and safe use ladders, scaffolds, fall protection systems, and other equipment they’ll be using on the job.

OSHA has provided numerous materials and resources that employers can use during toolbox talks to train workers on safe practices to avoid falls in construction. Falls from ladders, scaffolds and roofs can be prevented and lives can be saved through three simple steps: Plan, Provide and Train.

(From OSHA)