Monday, August 18, 2003

The Weekly Toll

The has been a particularly pathetic week with workplace fatalities ranging from the youngest (age 16) to the oldest (age 62) -- crushings, electrocutions, falls, confined space asphyxiations, traffic accidents, explosions. All in all, a typical work in America's workplaces.

To put this all in political perspective, check out the interview with AFL-CIO Health and Safety Director Peg Seminario. This sums up where we are:
We've got 2,000 job safety inspectors in the country responsible for overseeing and enforcing the safety and health laws in more than 6 million workplaces.

OSHA actually has fewer staff today than it did in 1980. The workforce and the number of workplaces has grown, but the agency's resources have not grown.

I missed this tragedy, which was picked up by Susan Madrak at Suburban Guerrilla:

Child labor laws fail boys killed on job

Three 16-year-old boys have died in work-related accidents in Washington this week, prompting calls for stronger enforcement of laws governing underage workers.

On Wednesday, 16-year-old Josh McMahon of Lynnwood was crushed to death at a wrecking yard.

Tyler Rausch and Cody Forrest, former teammates on the Jenkins High School football team, died Tuesday while they were working on the farm owned by Rausch's parents south of Colville.

The 16-year-olds were found dead in a silo filled with alfalfa "haylage" cattle feed.

"We need more field staff to work on consultation and enforcement of the law. Employers know the chances are too slim to be found out, so they continue to abuse the law," says Randy Loomans, the Washington Labor Council's education and safety director.

More here and here.

Hospital says investigation into doctor's death continuing

HOUSTON -- Large pieces of white plywood covered an elevator at Christus St. Joseph Hospital's patient tower Monday where a physician died this weekend when he became trapped in doors as the elevator moved.


Nikaidoh, of Dallas, was stepping into the second-floor elevator about 10 a.m. Saturday when the doors suddenly closed, pinning his shoulders. A portion of his head was severed when the elevator began rising.

A female hospital employee witnessed the accident and spent about 20 minutes trapped inside the malfunctioning elevator until firefighters rescued her.

Flores said the physician's body then fell down the elevator shaft to the basement.

Pearland worker killed while atop power lines

Nicholas Garland, 22, a North Houston Pole Co. employee, was performing routine maintenance on a high voltage line near NASA Road 1 and Sarah Deel about 9:30 a.m., Aug. 6, when he was shocked with about 130,000 volts of electricity.

Dump truck driver won't be charged in death of worker
Associated Press

GAFFNEY, S.C. - A dump truck driver who struck and killed a worker at a road construction site will not be charged, the Highway Patrol says.

Buford Phillips, 57, was backing up a state-owned dump truck hauling 8 tons of asphalt Monday morning when he hit 46-year-old David Allen Stapleton, a flag man for the state Transportation Department.

Phillips said the alarm that was supposed to sound when he backed the truck up was not working when he struck Stapleton.

Wayland man dies after fall from ladder

WAYLAND, MA -- A Wayland man died yesterday after he fell off a 20-foot ladder while working on the historic Grout-Heard House on Cochituate Road.

Police would not identify the victim, but Deborah McNeill said her husband, Richard A. McNeill, 52, of Matthews Drive, died working at the 12 Cochituate Road house yesterday.


Police said a preliminary investigation shows McNeill was on the ladder working on a second-floor gutter when he touched a power line and fell to the ground.

Auto Mechanic Crushed Under Car

BOULDER, Colo. -- A Boulder auto mechanic was crushed to death Thursday when he was caught beneath a vehicle on a service bay lift.

Officials said Gabrial Slagle, 23, was working at McCaddon Cadillac under a raised lift when a co-worker lowered the lift, killing Slagle. Investigators said the co-worker did not know that Slagle was under the lift when he lowered it.

OSHA investigating death at area oil field

Lawrence, KS -- Investigators from the Occupational Saftety and Health Administration and the Douglas County sheriff's department were at an oil field in southeast Douglas County Friday afternoon where a 33-year-old Osawatomie man died Thursday.

OSHA investigates carpenter's death

SAN ANTONIO -- A federal safety agency is investigating the death of a San Antonio carpenter.

Scott Phillip Fries, 32, was found on the ground Thursday in the 7000 block of Scotsdale where he and others had been working, according to a witness. He was taken to Brooke Army Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 5:15 p.m. Thursday, police said.

Emergency personnel said Fries may have suffered a heart attack caused by electric shock, according to the preliminary report.

One killed, one injured in explosion at plant

The Associated Press, OCALA, Fla.
An explosion at a plastics processing plant killed one worker, left another hospitalized and forced the evacuation of dozens of other employees Monday, officials said.

The blast occurred about 8:30 a.m. in a hopper containing wood chips at US Plastic Lumber Ltd., which uses plastic waste to make building materials, furnishings, industrial supplies and other packaging materials.

Killed was Scott Stokes, 34, of Ocala.

Part of I-35 closed due to fatal crash

A portion of Interstate Highway 35 south of Des Moines was closed Friday as a crane involved in a fatal crash was removed.

Merlyn McIlrath, 61, of Roland, the driver of the crane, died in the accident near the Iowa Highway 92 exit at Bevington. (scroll down)