5th Anniversary of West Fertilizer Explosion: Lessons Learned and Not Learned

Five years ago tonight a fire broke out at the West Fertilizer company in West, Texas. Emergency responders rushed toward the facility which contained 40 to 60 tons of fertilizer grade ammonium nitrate, but twenty minutes later a massive explosion ripped through the building killing 12 responders and three others, injuring 252 and damaging or destroying…

Acosta Refuses To Commit to Preserving OSHA Recordkeeping Rule

In a hearing before the Senate Appropriations Committee today, Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta today refused to commit not to rescind OSHA’s electronic recordkeeping rule. The rule, issued in 2016, requires employers to send injury and illness information into OSHA and prohibits employers from retaliating against workers for reporting injuries. The electronic recordkeeping rule has…

Charges Dropped Against Railroad for Lac Mégantic Catastrophe

Criminal charges have been dropped against Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway (MMA), according to Quebec’s Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions (DPCP), for causing the deaths of 47 people when 73 cars of highly combustible crude oil derailed in the small Quebec town of Lac-Mégantic in 2013 turning the downtown into a raging inferno. For those of you who…

Acosta To Testify Thursday in Senate on FY 2019 DOL Budget

Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta will testify before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday morning regarding the Presidents FY 2019 DOL budget proposal. Unfortunately, the entire Confined Space staff will be busy that morning, so you can watch the hearing live here, or (assuming the video works and the crick don’t rise), we’ll provide our…

Massachusetts Moves Forward on Protecting Public Employees. But millions remain without protection.

Question 1: What did the following workers have in common? Mercer County village worker killed in industrial accident MENDON, MERCER COUNTY, OH — A Village of Mendon employee was killed in an industrial accident Thursday at the village utility department, Mercer County Sheriff Jeff Grey said. Brendan Poling, 49, had climbed inside the bed of a dump…

Weekly Toll: Mourning for the Dead

Two Fatalities Confirmed in Helicopter Crash Near Smethport Keating Twp, PA — Two workers were killed when a helicopter performing maintenance on power lines crashed late Sunday afternoon 1.5 miles north of Smethport Borough in Keating Township.  The fatalities confirmed by State Police at the Kane barracks and McKean County Coroner Michael Cahill.  A third person in the helicopter, believed…

Short Stuff: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Battle for Workplace Safety

Kentucky Limits Black Lung Claims Reviews:  We have recently noted that black lung is back with a vengeance after almost being eradicated in the late 1990s. Epidemiologists at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health say they’ve identified the largest cluster of advanced black lung disease ever reported. Well, the state of Kentucky is…

Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster Anniversary: Don Blankenship Commemorates By Running for Senate

Today is the eighth anniversary of the Upper Big Branch mine explosion that claimed the lives of 29 coal miners in a massive coal dust explosion.  A press release from Bobby Scott, Ranking Member of the House Education and Workforce Committee notes that five independent investigation reports by state and federal agencies agree that the…

Nightmare Now Showing at Chemical Facility Near You

From my next screenplay….”The Day Before The Day After Tomorrow” Open Old film of an ominous fog spreading across the Indian city of Bhopal.  Sounds of coughing, screams, children crying. Caption: “Bhopal, India, December 2, 1984: An uncontrolled release of MIC from a Union Carbide Chemical plant kills thousands of sleeping residents.“ Cut to Helicopter…