Tuesday, April 01, 2003

Georgia on OSHA's Mind

The Atlanta Business Chronicle, of all publications, has been running a series called "Risky Business," profiling large companies with serious health and safety problems. Georgia Pacific ("Georgia-Pacific: 13 Dead in 3 Years"),UPS ("UPS facilities cited for injuries, illness") and Home Depot ("Home Depot's OSHA Violations Soar") are the first three companies profiled. (The U.S. Chemical Safety Board recently investigated the deaths of two Georgia Pacific contractors in Alabama).

While I wouldn't call the articles "indepth" or "hard-hitting" reporting (unlike the NY Times-Frontline McWane Series), the problems, injuries and fatalities are discussed in a surprisingly candid way for a business journal. Nor is there any OSHA bashing. The UPS article even includes statements from Teamsters Health and Safety Director Lamont Byrd. The problems and union statements (e.g. that injury stats are coming down due to intimidation) are countered by statements from the companies explaining how they've cleaned up their acts are now model places to work.

A fourth article "2,578 OSHA violations in Ga. in 2002" uses OSHA citations to show that "as OSHA records show, safety is a widespread concern among many Georgia companies."

First the NY Times, then the Atlantic Business Journal. Maybe someday the Washington Post will discover that workers exist.