Occupational Health News Roundup

Celeste wrote earlier about an excellent series of investigative stories on the resurgence of black lung disease among US coal miners. If you missed any of them when they first came out, they are:

Shortly after the series appeared, Chris Hamby of the Center for Public Integrity reported, “Federal regulators are assembling a team of lawyers and other experts to consider how to bolster coal mine dust enforcement.” A Mine Safety and Health Administration spokesperson told Hamby, “We’re carefully reviewing the issues that were raised by NPR and CPI, and are committed to taking whatever actions are necessary to end black lung disease.”

Some members of Congress responded to the series with statements calling for swift action on black lung – but, as Celeste pointed out last week, House Republicans added language to an FY2013 budget bill prohibiting MSHA from using any of its appropriated funds to “continue the development of or to promulgate, administer, enforce, or otherwise implement the Lowering Miners’ Exposure to Coal Mine Dust, including Continuous Personal Dust Monitors regulation being developed by the Mine Safety and Health Administration of the Department of Labor.” (But some of the same lawmakers who oppose strengthening mine safety laws do want miners to be honored with a postage stamp!)

In Other News:

In These Times: Public Citizen, United Electrical Workers, and Farmworker Justice asked the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue an emergency temporary standard for extreme heat. OSHA’s response is that the evidence doesn’t show current heat conditions meeting the “grave danger” legal requirement, but the agency has launched an outreach campaign to educate employers about the dangers of extreme heat.

McClatchy Newspapers: By unanimous consent, the US Senate passed a bill to fund healthcare for current and former Marines and their families with illnesses linked to exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration: After investigating complaints from employees, OSHA determined that two railroads violated the Federal Railroad Safety Act: Illinois Central Railroad retaliated against two employees for reporting on-the-job injuries, and Chicago Fort Wayne & Eastern Railroad retaliated against a conductor for raising concerns about workplace safety and reporting receiving instructions to operate a train in violation of federal rules. The two companies must pay the three workers involved a total of $650,000 in back wages and damages.

Total Worker Health in Action (NIOSH): Surveys have found decreased work-family stress to be related to reduced injury risk and increased safety compliance. Helping workers who face summertime childcare challenges is one way employers can reduce that stress.

BBC: In Karachi, gunmen attacked a UN vehicle and injured a doctor and driver involved in a polio vaccination campaign. Police are still investigating whether the attack was related to the campaign, which has been met with some resistance.

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