I wrote earlier this week about the excellent work NPR and the Center for Public Integrity did for an in-depth series on worker deaths in grain bins. Now there are even more stories on the subject, including a PBS segment and several pieces in the Kansas City Star. Plus, Salon has published "When workers die: "And nobody called 911"" by CPI's Jim Morris and WBEZ's Chip Mitchell. It's a chilling follow-up to the reporters' earlier piece, "They were not thinking of him as a human being," about temporary worker Carlos Centeno, who died from severe burns after plant managers refused to call 911 following a chemical spill.
Dorry Samuels of National COSH put together a list of links to all the grain bin stories:
- Special Series Page: Buried in Grain
- (part 1) Fines Slashed In Grain Bin Entrapment Deaths (with audio from All Things Considered)
- (part 2) Enforcement of Penalties Weak in Grain Deaths (with audio from Morning Edition)
- (part 3) Simple Strategies Can Prevent Grain Bin Tragedies (with audio from All Things Considered)
- (part 4) Why Grain Storage Bin Rescues Are Risky and Complex (with audio from Morning Edition)
- Buried in Grain -- database of incident reports, fines, and how much the fines got cut
- Should Grain Bins On Farms Be Regulated, Too?
Center for Public Integrity
- Worker suffocations persist as grain storage soars, employers flout safety rules
- Rethinking OSHA exemption for farms
Kansas City Star
- Map of grain bin entrapment deaths in Kansas & Missouri
- Charges considered in Atchison grain elevator blast
- Video: Family discusses son lost in Atchison blast, demand action
- Young lives lost in dangerous jobs
- Memories of victims evoke workplace danger reminders
Harvest Public Media
(supplies content to farm country public radio stations)
This is terrific reporting work on important issues -- take a look if you haven't already.
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It is about time that this issue got some national media attention. The fact that the CPI/NPR investigation has generated more media to further propel these practices and their consequences into the public's consciousness demonstrates that people DO care about the safety of workers when they have the chance to understand when it is callously disregarded, as is too often the case.
KCUR's Central Standard did a companion piece as well. (KCUR is home base for Harvest Public Media). You can see & hear it here: http://kcur.org/post/grain-deadly-business
Temporary agencies and their clients are often evil. They don't care about the worker at all, and a temp worker has no rights. If you work as a temp, whether in a white collar or blue collar environment, you are considered a second class citizen and less than human. A temporary worker, statistically, is far more likely to be injured on die on the job than a permanent worker. I constantly counsel people to avoid temp jobs altogether, and get any kind of permanent job they can possibly get. Over the past 20 years, temp agencies and the businesses they work for have become increasingly more unethical and sleazy. At best, you might get a paycheck for a while, but if the client chooses to slander you (as they often do), you won't get any more work from the agency. At worst, you can be injured on the job or even die.