Confined Space
News and Commentary on Workplace Health & Safety, Labor and Politics

Monday, October 25, 2004

Off to Ohio

I’m heading to Ohio in the morning to get out the vote. The doctor recommended it as the only cure for PEAD. That’s Pre-Election Anxiety Disorder, for those of you who are lucky enough to have avoided it. As it is, I’d be rather useless at work or at home over the next week anyway. Better I should be in the thick of it than obsessing from the outside. My country needs me. (And, I’m good luck. The last time I did GOTV was 1996 in Florida. We won Florida that year.)

It also probably means very little or no blogging for the next week (depending on my energy level and access to a computer). But, I’m assuming that many of you will be working on the election so hard that you won’t have time to sit in front of your computer anyway. Right?

Aside from being our only hope for saving this country (and the world) from itself, the election marks another milestone. When I began this blog 19 months ago, I committed to doing it at least through the election. I figured whatever was going to happen on November 2, it would require a re-evaluation of my life anyway, And here we are.

I haven’t decided yet what I’m going to do. I’d like to reclaim some of my the free time I used to have to….what did I used to do? Read? Watch mindless tripe on T.V.? Hang out with my kids (as if they want to hang out with me…)

On the other hand, I’m still having fun doing this. And I still think it’s important to have some way of communicate to workers, activists and others something about the conditions that American workers face every day on the job, how that environment is affected by politics, and what we can do collectively to change it. There needs to be a way to monitor what’s going on in Washington and around the country that affects workers’ ability to come home alive and healthy at the end of the day. There needs to be a vehicle that can expose how money, control issues, and willful negligence doom so many thousands of workers in this country to early deaths or lives lived in pain.

My last post (below) is the Weekly Toll. And by the looks of it, things aren’t getting any better. The first five articles list six people killed in trench collapses – “accidents” that shouldn’t be happening any more, accidents that should be sending employers to jail. Several stories this week involve multiple fatalities – three workers were electrocuted in one. Others offer grizzly stories of life and death in American workplaces: a man falls into a vat of boiling asphalt, another couple were crushed in machinery. One drowned in a sewer. And then there’s the poor woman who couldn’t even find out why her husband fell into a machine that crushed his skull – a week after her husband’s employer received an award for its outstanding safety program.

Meanwhile, OSHA tiptoes obliviously through the tulips, merrily sowing alliances and partnerships with its business buddies hither and yon as if all workers need is a few more fact sheets, web pages and speeches about how “safety pays.”

It’s enough to make a guy start a blog. It’s enough to make you do everything you can to get these guys out of office. It’s not that the Democrats have all the answers. It’s not that you don’t have to beat them over the head regularly. But at least they respond, at least they care, for the most part. So not it's time to put my money where my mouth is. As I wrote when I started this thing, people
need to know that politics matters, voting matters -- in national and local elections. It matters in big ways and small way, but it also matters in how safe their workplaces are going to be. It matters whether their children are going to grow up with unhealthy injured parents, or no parents at all. People need to understand that everything is connected. Tax cuts, growing deficits, appropriations, executive orders, regulatory "reform" -- it all affects our safety every day.
So, I don’t know what I’ll be doing after the election. I’m probably too addicted to go cold turkey, I although a vacation sounds tempting. I may think about turning this into a group blog, sharing the burden fun. I don’t know. It’s hard to think straight when you’ve got a raging case of PEAD.

So I’m off to slay some dragons, to fight for truth, justice and the American way. Wish me luck. Wish us all luck.

Here’s hoping that we’ll meet again soon in a better world.

-- Jordan


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Speech on Receiving the APHA Lorin Kerr Award
by Jordan Barab, November 9, 2004

Acts of God, Acts of Man," by Jordan Barab, Working USA

Lies, Partisanship Caused Ergo Standard to Crumble, by Jordan Barab, Safety + Health, February 2002

A Week of Death, by Jordan Barab, Hazards, February 5, 2003


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