Dispatches from the Front of the War on Worker Safety: Short Stuff

Major, Radioactive Oops:  More than 30 nuclear experts inhaled uranium after radiation alarms and ventilation systems at a Department of Energy weapons site were switched off.  The incident raises significant questions about safety in the nation’s premier nuclear labs: “not only were the labs’ procedures and responses riddled with errors, but even after attention was…

Blame The Worker — The Error of Blaming Incidents on “Human Error”

A New York subway train derailed earlier this week, injuring thirty-four  riders and striking fear into the hearts of subway riders who had believed their biggest concern was subway delays, not injury or death on the way to work. Thankfully, after only two days, and without even having to conduct a lengthy, troublesome, expensive investigation,…

“Unavoidable Employee Misconduct?” No.

A coffee packaging machine gets jammed, and the employee, instead of shutting the machine down, reaches under the machine guards to unjam the machine, which starts up and amputates his finger tip. OSHA issues a $4,988 serious citation against the employer, Berardi’s Fresh Roast. But wait, says Berardi’s. The employee admitted he circumvented the guards, so…

“Human Error?” Don’t Believe Everything Your Read

Dense cloud of chlorine threatens community near chemical plant. Chemical Safety Board issues preliminary findings of investigation of a chemical release that sent more than 140 people to the hospital last year.  AP headlines scream out “Feds: Human error, labeling led to chemical cloud in Kansas.” Every time I read the words “human error” connected to…

“I had to watch this poor kid’s head get crushed”

Common procedure for a workplace fatality: Blame the worker. Then blame the guy who warned that the workplace was dangerous. And fire him. Problem resolved. Case closed. Move along. This seems to be the practice of Goodwill Industries in Sacramento that was fined over $106,000 after Abraham Nicholas Garza’s head was crushed in a trash compactor,…