NYCOSH Letter to the NY TimesHow could I have missed this? A letter to the NY Times, December 29, from Joel Shufro, Executive Director of NYCOSH:
To the Editor:I can't link it because of the OBNOXIOUS NY Times policy of charging for articles over a week old. Have I mentioned that this is really OBNOXIOUS of them? And irritating?
Re ''When Workers Die'' series (front page, Dec. 21-23):
For each worker killed on the job as a result of traumatic injury, 10 workers die of occupational diseases. Although an estimated 66,000 workers die each year from occupational disease, their employers are never prosecuted.
It is difficult to prove that a worker's death from an occupational disease is a result of a particular employer's action or inaction. Illnesses caused by exposure to chemicals often have a latency period of 10 to 40 years. Workers are often exposed to hundreds of chemicals over their lifetime.
Stronger enforcement of current standards would help. But standards exist for only 500 of the some 70,000 chemicals used in the workplace, and the standards that do exist are woefully out of date and inadequate.
Occupational disease is preventable. The death of a worker from occupational disease is no less necessary or tragic than the deaths described in your excellent series. Unfortunately, as with the fatalities you described, some employers get away with murder.
New York, Dec. 23, 2003
The writer is executive director, New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health.