Tuesday, January 31, 2006

No Shame: Sago Mine Owner Appeals Ruling Allowing Union To Participate In The Investigation

These slimebags are pretty damn unbelievable Is this the United States of America, 2006 -- or maybe some feudal kingdom with kings and serfs a thousand years ago. Hard to tell the difference sometimes.

The Wolf Run Mining Co, a subsidiary of the International Coal Group which owns the Sago mine were 12 workers were killed earlier this month, has appealed a court decision that allowed the United Mineworkers union to participate in the investigation of the mine tragedy.

A judge granted an injunction last week allowing the UMW to participate in the investigation after the company blocked their entrance saying that the miners did not want the UMW to participate. Several miners have asked the UMW to be their representative and mine safety law permits UMW officials to join an investigation if two miners designate them as their representatives.

The company says this is just a union organizing tactic. But then one wonders what the company has to fear, if almost all the miners really are on the company's side.

Could it be they have something to hide?


The U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals declined Tuesday to suspend the lower-court ruling allowing United Mine Workers representatives to take part in the Sago Mine disaster investigation.

More mine stories here.

Post Office Shootings: What's Going On?

An former postal employee shot and killed six people and critically wounded another before committing suicide at a mail processing plant in Goleta, California. Not much is known yet about the incident, and neither the names of the victims nor the shooter is known.

I'm not sure what to say about this yet. I just want to refer you to a post I wrote last Spring reviewing a story about an auto worker who had killed several co-workers -- possibly due in large part to abuse by his former managers. I warned then against relying on the "crazy worker" theory of workplace violence which ignores organizational causes, and particularly hostile work environments:
Talk to any human behavior or violence expert and they'll tell you that there is a point at which any human being can be driven to violence. It differs from person to person, but no one is immune. But just blaming a violent event on an aberrant personality that "doesn't take criticism well, holds a grudge, and is repeatedly disciplined," borders on malpractice if organizational factors in the workplace, or any harassment the worker had been suffering are ignored.
Cervantes at Stayin' Alive contributes to this theme, citing experts who note writing that these sorts of incidents are signals that something is very wrong in the lives of many workers.
this sort of incident appears to be, at least in some cases, part of the price we pay for the commodification of work. For many people in industrial societies, work is just something they exchange for money. The work itself is merely unpleasant, dehumanizing, meaningless. And to management, the workers are just resources to be maintained in usable condition only to the extent that the investment is worth it. Low-skilled, easily replaced workers merit little consideration.
Now this may be true, but some of the factors that Cervantes cites, including mandatory overtime, a constant drive for increased productivity, and an uneducated, unskilled, relatively highly paid workforce that see losing a well paying job as a disaster, are factors in many workplaces. But from what I know about this type of workplace violence, there's often another, more important factor in many of these cases -- extraordinarily abusive treatment of workers by managers. The phrase "going postal" didn't evolve because postal workers are more off balance or alienated than other industrial workers, but rather that the working environment in post offices has frequently been extraordinarily abusive and stressful. As I said above, take a stressed out or somewhat at-risk person and add abuse and harrassment....at some point people crack. And if they also have easy access to guns....

Speaking of easy access to guns.... Workers Comp Insider points out that a growing number of states are allowing workers to bring guns to work (or even worse, penalizing employers for prohibiting guns to work), which is probably not a good idea considering that a study published in the American Journal of Public Health finding that murders are three times more likely to occur in workplaces that permit employees to carry weapons than in workplaces that prohibit all weapons.


Related Stories

Workplace Shootings: Crazy Workers or Crazy Workplaces?, May 29, 2005
Workplace Violence: Fashionable vs. Unfashionable, January 18, 2004

Congress: Helping MSHA Do Its Job

Congressman George Miller (D-CA) issued a report today accusing the Bush administration of putting "mine workers’ lives at greater risk by putting the of mining company executives ahead of the enforcement of critical workplace health and safety rules."
The Bush Administration has stacked the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) and the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission (FMSHRC) with mining industry insiders. The Administration has sought budget cuts and staff reductions at the enforcement agency. It has rolled back proposed safety and health regulations, while implementing industry-favored changes. It has significantly reduced the amount of major fines for mine safety and health violations, compared to the previous administration. And even while it has operated with little to no oversight from the Congress, MSHA has adopted the Bush Administration’s penchant for secrecy, refusing to fill Freedom of Information Act requests which had been routinely filled in the past. In the meantime, MSHA has also failed to ensure that the industry keeps pace with existing mine safety technologies, such as electronic tracking and communication devices and reserve oxygen chambers that could have saved lives at the Sago and Aracoma Alma mines.
The report makes three recommendations:
  • Congress must start fulfilling its oversight responsibilities. He notes that although an oversight hearing was held in the Senate last week, none have been held in the House of Representatives.

  • MSHA must act to aggressively enforce the law by halting the practice of promoting "compliance assistance" at the expense of actual law enforcement.

  • MSHA must adopt new regulations to ensure that the industry adopts safer practices and available life-saving technologies without waiting for the results of the current investigations.
We already know that American miners need and deserve the best life-saving equipment available. Such equipment includes simple tracking and communication devices used in mines in Australia and other countries around the world. It includes strategically placed rescue chambers and caches of self-contained self-rescue units, providing miners with several days of good air, not just one hour as currently required.
Miller's Press Release can be found here and the whole report here.

By the way, Miller puts out great reports, but his political predictions stink:
President Bush is likely to address the issue of mine safety in his State of the Union speech tonight and Miller warned that, based on the findings of this new report, “The public and the press should approach the President’s rhetoric on mine safety with extreme caution.”

Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports that MSHA is considering regulations that would require caches of oxygen tanks and breathing masks inside every coal mine.

The idea may have struck some miners as familiar, because it was. A similar proposal was put forward by the same regulators six years ago, only to be scrapped by the Bush administration shortly after it took office. And the oxygen caches were not the only proposed safety improvement to be withdrawn.

In all, the Bush administration abandoned or delayed implementation of 18 proposed safety rules that were in the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration's regulatory pipeline in early 2001, a review of agency records shows. At least two of the dropped proposals have now been resurrected in the aftermath of deadly accidents at the Sago and Alma mines in West Virginia.

West Virginia's Congressional delegation isn't waiting for MSHA regulations, however. They preparing a package to send to Congress that will include requirements for rapid notification and response of mine emergencies, emergency communications and breathing equipment, higher penalties, and the creation of a science and technology office in MSHA "to expedite the introduction of the most advanced health and safety technologies into the mines."

State Of The Union: What To Expect

I don't know about you, but this is the first State of the Union speech I've looked forward to in about six years. If there's one thing about this President, it's his ability to latch onto a crisis and ride it all the way to political victory. And what better crisis to latch onto than terrorism -- terrorism in America's coal mines.

So I'm expecting our President to point out tonight that:
  • "Homeland security" means making sure people come home from work secure in their lives and health.

  • Although we've already lost 15 brave miners this year, we lose more than 15 workers every day as a result of workplace accidents.

  • We should be ashamed that Australians and Canadians do a better job protecting their miners than Americans.

  • That although most businesses want to do the right thing, we need to weed out those few "bad apples" with higher fines and stronger criminal penalties. And just as we are now able to negotiate penalties down from the maximum in order to take into account a business's small size, we should also be able to raise penalties above the maximum in order to take into account a multinational corporation's huge size.

  • That if we can communicate with a space ship orbiting Pluto, for heaven's sake, we can sure as hell figure out how to communicate with a miner a few hundred feet under the ground. And if we can send people into space with enough oxygen to keep them alive for weeks, we should be able to send miners into the ground with enough oxygen to keep them alive for a few days.
And finally, our President will point up to his lovely wife up in the balcony, where, sitting next to her will be the widow of a miner killed at Sago. And our President will vow that he shall not have died in vain.

This is going to be fun. I can hardly wait.

UPDATE (January 31, 10:03 pm): I'm so disappointed.

Monday, January 30, 2006

New Immigrant Worker Blog

Workers comp consultant Peter Rousmaniere (Roo-man-ear), who wrote the recent column in the Boston Globe about immigrant workers being cheated out of workers comp, has launched a new blog called Working Immigrants, "a weblog about the business of immigrant work: employment, compensation, legal protections, education, mobility, and public policy."

Many of his posts address workplace health and safety concerns, such as these
And in this world were we see too much fear and hate, we need more of this spirit:
Most developed nations owe enormous debts of gratitude to yesterday’s, today’s and tomorrow’s immigrants. Their physical and mental labors are often taken for granted, undervalued, excluded from collective memory.
Another worthy addition to the blogosphere.

Bookmark it, read it and spread it around.

Canadian Miners Rescued; Why Can't It Happen Here?

The safe rescue of 72 Canadian potash miners from an underground fire was major news today -- in tragic contrast to the fourteen miners recently killed in West Virginia due to mine explosions and fires. The Canadian miners spent the night in airtight chambers packed with enough oxygen, food and water for several days.

The obvious question is: Why can't that happen here?

According to Davitt McAteer, who ran MSHA during the Clinton administration and is currently leading West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin's mine disaster investigation:
the safety chambers in the Mosaic mine in Canada's central Saskatchewan province were key to the miners' survival.

"I think that the question of the existence of the chamber that provided oxygen, food and protection is fundamentally important in any kind of a mine," he said. He acknowledged, however, that potash mines are not nearly as dangerous as those for coal - where an initial explosion can provoke a secondary one 10 times as strong.

There are no such chambers in U.S. mines, he said, because back in the late 1970s, the U.S. government determined there was no material strong enough to withstand the secondary explosion. Since then, he said, NASA and the Defense Department have created stronger materials.

"If you can build a black box to withstand an explosion in an airplane, why can't you build one to escape an explosion in a mine?" he asked.
One article noted that
"The mine scare raised memories of a fatal explosion in a West Virginia coal mine earlier this month. Twelve miners were killed and one injured in that blast."
A more accurate sentence would read:
"The mine scare raised memories of a fatal explosion in a West Virginia coal mine earlier this month. One miner was killed in the blast, but eleven others were asphyxiated waiting due to inadequate supplies of emergency oxygen."

More mine disaster stories here.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

OSHA: The Good, the Bad and the Red Herrings

Meanwhile back on the anti-OSHA ideological frontlines...

The New York Times had an interesting article last week about Republican attempts -- led by Senator Mike Enzi (R-UT) and Congressman Charlie Norwood (R-GA) -- to "give small businesses more leeway in dealing with the regulations that [OSHA] inspectors enforce."

Interesting, because they actually drew from both sides. In the "OSHA as Gestapo" corner was a mysterious "Michigan-based manufacturer of metal components" who wouldn't reveal his identity because he feared "retaliation by a vindictive inspector."
He said his 20-year-old company had a clear safety record, with no recorded accidents.

Nevertheless, he said, an inspector cited him for not having an eye-wash station, which the inspector said was required to deal with any injuries from splashed battery acid. He said he disputed the need for a station, but paid the $2,000 fine, complaining that "the inspectors treat you like some kind of criminal."

A second violation, also for $2,000, involved a failure to display, in locations where workers could easily read them, required material safety data sheets detailing the hazards of materials used and giving clear first aid directions in the event of exposure to the hazards.

"We had a million working hours with only small incidents like cut fingers, stitches and a few chips in the eye," the factory owner complained. "Yet our good safety record means nothing. It comes down to picky, picky, picky."
Yeah, this is America, not some God damn police state where you're considered guilty just because you break the law if it didn't hurt anyone. I mean, it's not like anyone died or anything.
Gosh offisher, I know I've had jusht a leetle bit too mush to drink, and maybe I was driving jusht a leetle bit over the shpeed limit, but I have an exchellent driving record. Nope, never killed anyone. You'cn look it up. Picky, picky, picky.
And in the "safety enforcement makes sense corner," we have The Allman Electric Corporation of Fayetteville, N.C., which is
among a small group of companies that have hired their own safety directors to monitor workplace conditions — and to try to resolve amicably any problems that safety inspectors uncover.

"I've negotiated with them on three occasions," said Michael Dimare, the safety director at Allman, a commercial and residential electrical contractor. "Each time they gave us a chance to address the safety issues."

One citation came when one of the company's 75 workers failed to hook up his safety harness after being hoisted three stories up to change a bulb on an outside light fixture.

"The inspector took digital photographs," Mr. Dimare said. "So, when you are presented with an 8-by-10 glossy, what can you say?"

The company was able to negotiate the $20,000 fine for the safety violation down to $300 after it agreed to start, within 30 days, a program to train its workers about protecting themselves against falls.

"As long as you are professional and courteous, you can work it out," Mr. Dimare said. "Of course, you have to make sure there are no repeat violations."
The Times also quotes AFL-CIO Safety and Health Director, Peg Seminario who points out that OSHA inspectors
"only show up at small businesses when there is a fatality or a complaint."

Ms. Seminario said that based on 2004 figures, the average penalty was $955. "What OSHA really needs is more money for enforcement and stricter penalties," she added.
And one not so insigificant quibble: The article states that "Over all, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of workplace deaths decreased from 6,632 in 1994 to 5,703 in 2004." True enough, but the article fails to note that fatalities have gone up in each of the past two years.

Bush's MSHA Killed Requirement For Mine Communication Devices

Pop quiz: What's the mantra of this administration when it comes to workplace safety?

I think this quote from Senator Mike Enzi, Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committee, pretty much sums it up:
Cooperation, not confrontation is essential in making our workplaces safer. The notion that employers care little about worker safety, or are prepared to sacrifice worker health in the pursuit of profit is a dangerous myth.
Well, if the lessons of Sago and Alma indicate anything, the real danger (to workers) lies in believing the myth that it's a myth "that some employers care little about worker safety, or are prepared to sacrifice worker health in the pursuit of profit."

First, the Bush administration withdraws a regulation that would have revised MSHA's 15-year old mine rescue regulation, kills a regulation that would have helped prevent conveyor belt fires, changes mine ventilation rules that experts say will allow fires to spread more rapidly through the mine, cutting off miners' fresh air -- and now this from today's Charleston Gazette:
Just two years ago, the Bush administration rejected a proposal to give coal miners text-messaging devices that could warn them of underground fires and explosions.

If the Sago Mine had had these devices, 13 miners trapped underground could have been told it was safe for them to just walk out after a Jan. 2 explosion.

If workers at the Aracoma Alma No. 1 Mine three weeks later had had text-messaging devices, they could have been warned sooner of a dangerous fire that killed two workers.

MSHA already could have acted to accept text-messaging proposals that labor and industry officials made after a major mine disaster in Alabama.

The nation’s 42,000 underground coal miners already could have communication devices to help them escape potentially deadly mine accidents, according to a review of public records and interviews with mine safety experts.

U.S. coal companies have known about the devices — called Personal Emergency Devices, or PEDs — since at least the late 1980s. But without an industry-wide mandate, few operators have installed the systems in their mines. Only 19 of about 800 underground U.S. mines use PEDs, according to MSHA records.
These devices, manufactured by an Australian firm, Mine Site Technologies, use ultra-low frequency electromagnetic fields to send text messages from the surface to the fields -- warning miners to evacuate and best evacuations routes, for example.

The devices have been used for almost 20 years in Australia. Following the September 2001, explosions at the Jim Walter Resources No. 5 Mine outside Tuscaloosa, Alabama that killed 13 miners, the United Minworkers recommended that MSHA require the devices. In that incident, four miners were injured by an initial explosion, but the others were killed attempting to rescue the injured miners, not knowing about the explosion or the dangers of another explosion.

The devices were used successfully in the US in a 1998 fire at the Willow Creek Mine in Carbon County, Utah, where the entire workforce of mine was successfully evacuated from a serious mine fire.

When MSHA decided to upgrade its Mine Emergency Actions rule in response to the Jim Walters disaster, the United Mineworkers union, Mine Site Technologies, and American companies that had successfully used the devices urged MSHA to require PED's. But the new rule issued in September 2003, simply established a single point of contact for miners underground to look to for guidance in the event of a mine emergency failed to require the devices. The excuse?“
MSHA has not made the PED system a requirement of the final rule,” the agency said in a Federal Register notice. MSHA believes that the PED system is generally effective and encourages its use. However, since technology is constantly changing, newer systems that may be as, or more, effective than the PED may be developed.”
Well, I'm sure the 14 dead miners who might have made it out alive with PEDs appreciate the fact that MSHA "encouraged" their use.

MSHA and OSHA are hot on the idea of promoting workplace safety and health by something called "the national dialog on safety and health," encouraging employers to do the right thing. Well, if this situation is any indication, the national dialog is more like a failure to comunicate. It would have cost $100,000 to equip the Sago Mine with PEDs. Is it possible that Sago's owner, the International Coal Group, is one of Senator Enzi's mythical companies that is actually "prepared to sacrifice worker health in the pursuit of profit?"

Oh, and finally, in case you're worried about how we're going to compete with China with all these new regulations people are talking about, check this headline out:

More mine disaster stories here.

Case Worker's Death Spurs Safety Campaign in Washington

Last November, Marty Smith, a crisis responder for the Washington State mental-health system, was beaten to death while attempting to hospitalize a schizophrenic client who had not been taking his medication. Smith was working alone that night, a common practice among mental health and social service workers.

Now Smith's union, SEIU 1199NW, is organizing to pass Marty's Law: Make Our Work Safer. (HB 2921) Marty's Law would provide funding so clinicians can work in pairs when they are sent to evaluate a client in a private residence. The bill also requires clinicians to be provided with cell phones, prompt access to patient records, and training on violence prevention.

Marty's law is part of the Campaign for Quality Mental Health Care. A poll conducted by SEIU followign Marty Smith's death found that Washington state’s mental health system has failed to provide a safe working environment, sufficient training, or enough support to its workers.
  • In the last two years, caseloads and the complexity of individual client conditions have increased.
  • 75% of community mental health workers report feeling unsafe on the job.
  • 78% of community mental health workers have been assaulted either verbally, physically or both; fully 22% report
  • being physically assaulted in the last two years.
  • 42% of community mental health workers feel they don’t have adequate backup when safety is threatened.
  • 44% of community mental health workers feel they don’t have sufficient training to deal with safety issues.

U.S. Prepares Civil and Criminal Suits Against BP For 2005 Explosion That Killed 15

The Wall St. Journal reported last week that the federal government is preparing a civil suit against BP Amoco for the March 23 Texas City explosion that killed 15 workers and injured 170.
The case could result in considerable fines for BP, which would include penalties for violating Texas state laws that prohibit unauthorized emissions of harmful chemicals such as benzene, nitrogen oxides and pentene. Numerous chemicals were released during the explosion, though state officials said they found that none of the emissions had reached beyond the refinery site.

Earlier in the investigation into the explosion, staff at the EPA and the Justice Department were discussing a possible fine of $200 million for the explosion, according to a government official familiar with the case who spoke on condition of anonymity. That would be one of the largest fines ever for violations of environmental laws.


The charges being considered by the federal government include failure by the company to have an adequate risk-management plan at Texas City, the officials said. The Clean Air Act requires that large facilities prepare these plans to prevent industrial accidents and cope with the aftermath of such events. The Texas City facility is the third largest oil refinery in the U.S.

Much of the evidence for the charges the government is considering, is present in a report on the explosion prepared this fall by BP itself, the government official said. "They pretty well self-disclose there was a problem," said the official. "The issue was they didn't fix it."

Meanwhile, the Houston Chronicle reports that the EPA and FBI are also looking into a separate criminal case.

OSHA fined the company $21.3 million last year. OSHA, the US Chemical Safety Board and BP itself determined that combustible liquids overflowed into a "blowdown drum" that then overflowed onto the ground, spreading vapors which exploded. The company had been warned by OSHA in the early 1990's that the process was unsafe and that overflows should be vented to a flair. BP had also recognized the problem, but had not gotten around to fixing it. All of the fatalities were in or near office trailers that had been placed to close to the hazardous process.

The Houston Chronicle reported last month that
Two and a half years before the fatal March 23 explosion at the BP Texas City plant, managers rejected an outside contractor's proposal to attach a flare to the vent stack that overflowed that day, according to e-mail obtained by the Houston Chronicle.

BP didn't pursue the option — which likely would have prevented the blast that claimed 15 lives — because the company hadn't done a federally required safety study on the isomerization unit, the two e-mail messages indicate.
In addition to high fines, the Clean Air Act (CAA) states that a person who “negligently places another person in imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury” can be sentenced to one year in jail, and a person who who at the time knowingly places another person in imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury can serve up to 15 years in jail.

More BP Texas City Explosion Stories here.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Job Blackmail 101: Michigan Senate Votes To Kill Ergonomics Standards

Job blackmail is as old as capitalism. Put more regulations on us, force us to make the workplace safer, pay a minimum wage, limit the workday to 8 hours, offer vacations -- and your jobs just might disappear.

The Michigan Senate voted 22-14 along party lines last week to pass a bill that would bar the state from adopting an ergonomics standard, advocated by Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm's administration. The standard would require employers to assess their workplaces for factors that may be causing back injuries, sprains, strains and overexertion and other painful, disabling musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).

Despite the fact that experts estimate that MSDs cost the economy between $45 and $54 billion every year, business interests claim that the health and safety initiative is a job killer, coming at a particularly bad time in a state where auto makers are announcing tens of thousands of layoffs practically every month. Such tactics worked well to kill ergonomics standards in Washington state and in Washington D.C. Ergonomic injuries lead to more than half of all workers' compensation claims in Michigan.

In a reponse to Granholm's State of the State address, the Michigan Manufacturers Association called for (what else?) more business tax cuts, and...
Our state also needs to oppose any unnecessary regulatory burdens -- like a mandated state-based ergonomics standard -- if we hope to grow jobs. The governor wants to 'continue to slash the red tape that entangles businesses.' A state ergonomics standard would create expensive, unnecessary red tape. Businesses already understand that the health of their workforce is crucially important to their success and do all they can to protect workers.
According to Republican state Representative Rick Jones,
"The mere fact that the state has a committee pondering tighter workplace restrictions is more economic poison."

"We have to realize we're fighting for jobs, and we can't be different from the rest of the country," said Jones, the chief bill sponsor. "People are leaving Michigan to find jobs."
[I love the "we can't be different from the rest of the country" argument: a perfect case for federal regulations.]

Governor Granholm has a more accurate view of the problem.
"They're not moving to Canada for the tax structure," she said of foreign and domestic automakers. "They're not moving to Canada for the wages. They're not moving to Canada because there's less regulation. They're moving there because of health care."

Canada subsidizes much of its citizens' health care costs. The Canadian Auto Workers union estimates the savings amounts to $4 per hour per worker versus the United States.

Granholm said the federal government should work with companies such as General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co., whose legacy costs for pensions and health care premiums for current and retired workers adds about $1,500 to the price of every vehicle sold.
And the United Auto Workers union thinks that ergonomics standards will be good for the state because automakers are leaders in the field of ergonomics. "It's an asset, a competitive edge," he said. "Why aren't we using it?"


Governor Granholm is expected to veto the legislation.

Challenger 20th Anniversary: Remembering Seven Workplace Deaths

Twenty years ago today, I sat in a hospital room and watched seven American workers die on the job -- televised over and over again -- dozens, if not hundreds of times.

They were the astronauts of the space shuttle Challenger and my wife and I were in a room at George Washington Hospital waiting for my first daughter to be born. Nicole was apparently horrified by the tragedy as well, deciding to delay her appearance into this cruel world for another day. Her protest was rather counterproductive, however, because her birthday headline will forever be emblazoned with news of the previous day's tragedy and the horrific photos of the moment when -- 73 seconds after leaving for work -- Francis R. Scobee, Michael J. Smith, Judith A. Resnik; Ronald E. McNair; Lt. Col. Ellison S. Onizuka; Gregory B. Jarvis; and the first teacher in space, Christa McAuliffe, lost their lives.

Time Magazine devoted a full half page to the lives of each of the astronauts, and President Reagan gave one of the more moving speeches of his -- or most other presidencies: "They slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God" -- words far more poetic than have ever been dedicated by any President to any other workplace fatalities, and far more recognition than received by the fifteen to twenty other Americans who died that same day -- and every other day -- in American workplaces.

Mineworkers Call On Bush To Withdraw Nomination of MSHA Nominee

Back in September, when Bush nominated Richard Stickler to head the Mine Safety and Health Administration, no one (except the United Mineworkers Union) seemed to care much about MSHA or the qualifications of the people in charge. How times have changed. The last thing we need right now is another "Brownie" to do "a hell of a job" with the safety of America's miners.

The confirmation hearing for Stickler and Edwin Foulke as heads of MSHA and OSHA will be held Tuesday morning. Given that the Congress has rarely held any oversight hearings covering OSHA or MSHA in the past five years, the hearing had originally promised to be moderately interesting. Given the events in West Virginia mines over the past month, the hearing looks like it will be much more interesting, particularly Stickler's.

Earlier this week, the United Mineworkers union called on President Bush to withdraw Stickler's nomination. Noting that MSHA is "riddled with former coal company executives," UMW President Cecil Roberts stated that
“America’s coal miners don’t need a coal company executive in charge at MSHA,” Roberts said. “We need a person who understands safety from the miner ’s point of view, and is committed to making the health and safety of the miner the agency’s first priority once again.”
Stickler was a mine industry executive before being appointed to run Pennsylvania's Bureau of Deep Mine Safety in 1997. Prior to running the agency, the mines he managed had injury rates that were double the national average, according to government data assembled by the Mineworkers.

His performance in his new job wasn't much better. Stickler was head of Deep Mine Safety during the 2002 Quecreek mine disaster where nine miners were saved from a flooded mine.
The attorney who represents eight of the trapped miners said he does not support Stickler's appointment because of the secrecy involved in the investigation that followed.

Also, a grand jury in 2003 determined the state agency should have red-flagged mapping problems that were blamed for miners at Quecreek breaching an abandoned mine that released millions of gallons of water. The grand jury did not fault any individuals.

''He's going to have to demonstrate that he's willing to be an advocate for miners' safety,'' said Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.).
Well, hopefully he's at least he's learned not to walk out on the Senators.

More 2006 Mine Disaster Stories

Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Battle Of Sago: Mine Company Tries To Run Off The Union

The Alma mine in Logan Country, where two miners were killed last week, lies in the shadow of Blair Mountain, site of the famous battle between miners and company guards over unionization of West Virginia's coal mines.

This week another battle is brewing between the miner's union and the company that owns the Sago mine where 12 workers died -- International Coal Group -- over the union's participation in the investigation of the Sago mine disaster. So far, the union seems to be winning -- with the help of the federal government.

Yesterday, ICG guards blocked UMW representatives from accompanying investigators from the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) from entering the Sago mine to begin the investigation. Although Sago miners are not represented by the UMW, several families of the dead miners designated the UMW as their representatives. MSHA agreed with the union and sought a court order to force ICG to allow union representatives onto company property to participate in the Sago Mine disaster investigation.

Today, U.S. District Judge Robert E. Maxwell ordered ICG to allow the union representatives to enter the mine.

The battle over the Sago investigation had been brewing for weeks, ever since the company objected to the union sitting in on MSHA's interviews with surviving miners and then claimed that most of the miners had signed a petition requesting that three Sago miners -- and not the union -- be designated as their representatives.

MSHA, however, citing Section 103(f) of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977, which provides that miners' representatives can accompany MSHA investigators "during the physical inspection of any coal or other mine," recognized the UMW as the workers' representative, along with the company's preferred representatives. MSHA noted Section 103 also recognizes situations where there the agency may permit "more than one representative from each party [that] would further aid the inspection."

According to an MSHA press release,
"MSHA is doing everything it legally can to enforce the rights of the miners' representatives to participate in MSHA's underground investigation into the Sago Mine accident," said Ed Clair, a top MSHA lawyer. "Together, the state and MSHA made a commitment to the families that we could conduct a fair, open investigation, and we decided we needed to take this extraordinary step to keep that commitment," Clair said in a prepared statement.
ICG claimed that it was "disappointed" that MSHA was being "guided by political pressures."
Unfortunately, the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) is trying to insert itself into the investigation in a self-serving attempt to boost their organizing efforts. Yielding to UMWA political influence, the Mine Health & Safety Administration (MSHA) and the West Virginia Office of Miner Health, Safety, & Training (WVOMHST) are trying to force our company to allow the union's participation in the investigation without satisfying the associated regulatory requirements.
UMW reps were incredulous at the company's actions, saying that the investigation was "dissolving into a travesty."
"This is absolutely ridiculous," said Tim Baker, a UMW safety official taking part in the Sago probe.

"This company is spending more time and money and energy trying to keep us out than they have trying to figure out what happened," Baker said. "We all have the same goal in mind, so let's get on with it."
Judge Maxwell agreed, stating that
the UMW has decades of expertise in mine disasters to offer.

"There's no question that the public interest is best served by a complete and thorough investigation into the occurrence of the problems at the Sago Mine," Maxwell said. "There is a strong public interest in allowing miners to play a role in this investigation, as it is their health and safety that is at issue."

MSHA attorney Tim Williams said the teams of investigators would probably need seven to 10 days underground to gather evidence. The company had asked the judge to impose a 10-day limit on the union's involvement, but he refused to do so.
ICG claimed that it was particularly disappointed because 90 Sago miners had signed a petition designating three miners to be their representatives and not the union. The UMW charged ICG with initiating the petition and circumventing the law:
“It is our understanding that this petition was an initiative of ICG management,” Roberts said. “This is yet another frantic attempt by ICG to circumvent the law in this matter and we call on the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) and the West Virginia Office and Mine Health, Safety and Training to investigate this action by ICG management.

“It is simply astonishing that ICG would go to such lengths to impede the investigation into what happened at Sago,” Roberts said. “I ask again: What are they afraid of?
ICG claims that the effort was undertaken by Sago miners "without the initiation, direction or involvement of company management." But certainly not without interest and approval of company management:
On January 20, MSHA officials were presented with a petition from Sago hourly employees that rejected UMWA representation in favor of having three of their coworkers serve as miner representatives. That petition has now been signed by 90 Sago hourly employees – which represents 93% of the active hourly workforce. Those true Sago miner representatives have been participating in the mine reentry process since it began.
OK, without "initiation, direction or involvement" of the company. Now, how do we imagine this went? You've got 150 miners suddenly out of work, with no good prospects for the forseeable future -- unless the nice benevolent company offers them jobs in other area mines, and then brings them back when Sago reopens. And look over there, out-of-state union thugs causing trouble. Will no one rid me of this meddlesome union? Nod, nod, wink, wink.

Meanwhile, back in Washington DC, the battle over Sago was joined a different level when AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer Richard Trumka accused the International Coal Group of misleading potential investors by hiding the deteriorating safety conditions at the Sago Mine.
In a letter, AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka urged the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate and take action against ICG and its founder, New York billionaire Wilbur L. Ross Jr.

Trumka alleged ICG wrongly claimed in its initial public offering for stock purchasers that its operations had a good safety record.

At the same time, Trumka said, federal inspectors were citing the company for hundreds of safety violations, including many that "would cause serious or deadly injury if not corrected.

"These serious risks existed and were known to ICG while they were preparing for and conducting the IPO, yet the company did not disclose them to potential investors," wrote Trumka, a former United Mine Workers president.

"We believe this failure was in violation of the fundamental requirements of the nation's securities laws to provide investors with all material information necessary to make a reasonable investment decision," Trumka wrote in his Monday letter to SEC enforcement director Linda C. Thomsen.
All of this death, destruction and conflict has apparently been too much for Ross and his wife who have been spotted in Palm Beach at various charity affairs, antique shows and parties, and the cute couple was "photographed wearing color-coordinated outfits at a lunch for Prince Edward and his wife, Sophie, the countess of Wessex, at Wall Streeter Tom Quick's lush estate."
"It's a tricky business, but they're not going to stop their lives because of it," said Quest [Magazine] editor David Patrick Columbia. "I think it's a very rough time for them.
Yeah, I guess it's rough all over.

More 2006 Mine Disaster Stories

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

$7.25 Million Award For Death Of Window Washer

Last month, Kansas City Star reporterMike Casey began his series on the ineffectiveness of OSHA enforcement with the story of 25 year old window washer Les James, who, after less than an hour into his first day on the job, fell to his death. OSHA cited the company, Quality Window Washing, for failing to provide James with a safety line or a guardrail and for not securing the window-washing rig to the roof. The company also was cited for failing to attach the window washers’ lifelines to a secure point on the hospital’s roof, separately from the rig.

Quality Window Cleaning was fined a whopping $2700.

But yesterday, justice was served:

On Tuesday, a Jackson County judge awarded James’ family $7.25 million in a wrongful-death case tried without a jury.

Judge Charles Atwell found Brian Mannschreck, owner of Quality Window Cleaning Inc. of Kansas City, negligent for providing no training, inadequate equipment and unsafe working conditions.

The judge also noted in his ruling that Mannschreck had agreed with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to provide training after another of his window washers fell and died in 1996.

Or at least justice was served for the James family. Quality Window Cleaning had also killed an employee in a similar incident in 1996, and another two years after James. Mannschreck blamed both accidents on "employee error" and there were no OSHA penalties in either case.

Justice is fickle.

It's unclear to me how the James family got around Workers Compensation laws which generally prohibit workers or their families from suing their employer. Exceptions have been made in some states where gross negligence has been shown. Now sure what the reasoning was in this case, but given the slim chance that OSHA penalties will ever be high enough to actually deter most employers from endangering their workers, it would clearly be nice to see more of these verdicts.

MSHA Director Dye Disses Congress

I listened to part of the Senate mine safety hearing yesterday, starring David Dye, Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health. After Dye testified, he notified Senator Specter, who was chair the committee, that he had to leave because he had pressing business. Specter launched into a lecture about how the Senators also had pressing business, but that it was important that he stay another hour to answer any further questions that might come up. On the other hand, Specter said, "That's the committee's request, but you're not under subpoena."

I was listening to the hearing on the internet, but having been in Washington a good many years, and having observed a number of oversight hearings, I naturally assumed that Dye had taken the Senator's subtle hint, and kept his butt firmly planted in those uncomfortable chairs.

Turns out he got up, turned around and marched right out of the room.

Interestingly, one of the reasons Dye said he had to head back to the office was to deal with a mine fire that was raging in Colorado. Hmm, sounds urgent. Important things to do. Miners at risk. Can't be wasting time blah blahing with a bunch of fat hot air bags. Urgent. Must leave.

But it turns out, according to the Charleston Gazette, that the urgent mine fire wasn't quite as urgent as Dye made out:
Apparently, Dye was referring to a fire at Arch Coal Inc.’s West Elk Mine. That fire has been burning since November. The mine is temporarily closed, and there were no reports this week of any emergency situations there.
The Senators were not amused at Dye's "I think I hear my mother calling me" dodge. West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd said:
Dye’s departure was a “gross error” and a “very arrogant thing for him to do,” especially after subcommittee chairman Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., specifically asked him not to leave.

“They don’t want to answer questions — that’s why this man left the hearing,” Byrd said. “That’s at the bottom of the problem.

“If this is how MSHA and the other executive agencies that have jurisdiction over mine safety act toward members of Congress, how do they treat coal miners?”

The Washington Post's Ruth Marcus called Dye's departure "a perfect illustration of the Bush administration's attitude toward Congress,"

And this, in a nutshell, is the way this executive branch treats its supposedly equal partner: as an annoying impediment to the real work of government. It provides information to Congress grudgingly, if at all. It handles letters from lawmakers like junk mail, routinely tossing them aside without responding.

It unabashedly evades the need for Senate confirmation of officials by resorting to recess appointments, even for key government posts; see, for example, the recent recess appointments of the top immigration official, the number two person at the Defense Department and half of the Federal Election Commission.

It thinks of congressional oversight as if it were a trip to the dentist, to be undertaken reluctantly and gotten over with as quickly as possible.
Remember, as I've written before, this is the first time since 2001 that the Congress had held an oversight hearing into mine safety. And even after 15 miners die in three weeks, in incidents that, with the appropriate procedures and equipment, may have been survivable, MSHA officials make no secret of the fact that they view informing Congress of their activities as about as valuable as a fat red hemorrhoid.

As Specter said, "I can't recollect it ever happening before. We'll find a way to take appropriate note of it."

Should be interesting.

More 2006 Mine Disaster Stories

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Trench Collapses and Murder: Anyone Listening Out There?

There's something very, very wrong here.

I noted that OSHA had fined a Texas construction company the other day, Site Concrete, $117,500 for their "alleged failure to protect employees from cave-in and other safety hazards." The citations included one alleged willful and two alleged repeat violations. The OSHA press release stated that at the time of the inspection, four workers were installing a new valve on the water main inside a seven-foot deep trench. OSHA standard require shoring or sloping of any trench more than 5 feet deep.

OK, not bad, I thought. This is clearly a bad actor:
"Since 1998, this employer has been inspected by OSHA 16 times, resulting in $231,510 in fines and penalties. Exposing employees to unsafe working conditions is unacceptable," said Kathryn Delaney, OSHA area director in Dallas. "Employers must follow safety and health standards to prevent injuries and fatalities, and are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace for their employees."
But then, something fluttered way deep inside this aging brain of mine...Site Concrete, where have I heard that name before?

Oh, yeah.

These guys hadn't just been inspected and fined a number of times over the past seven years, they killed a worker just over a year ago in a 15-foot deep trench, a fact that seems to have been left out of the OSHA press release. For that little infraction, the company received a $147,000 penalty (including a willful and repeat citation), which is being appealed at the moment.

I wrote a very angry piece after that last fatality, which I won't repeat here. It's full of anger at OSHA for not having thrown these guys in jail or even bringing a willful citation in the ten previous inspections where trenching violations were found, anger at Site Concrete's attorney who didn't think they had done anything wrong, and anger at the state of Texas for continuing to allow this criminal corporation to receive government contracts. Go read it yourself.

But I'm mostly pissed off right now because just last night I printed a heart-breaking article by the step-daughter of Mike Morrison, a man killed in a preventable trench collapse and I can't help but think that if OSHA had started throwing these assholes in jail everytime they kill someone in a trench, Mike Morrison and many others would be alive today.

Excuse the profanity, but is there any good reason that the owners of Site Concrete aren't in jail tonight? Is there any good reason that any trench collapse should be considered manslaughter or homicide or murder? Can we just see a little bit of the anger over this situation that we're seeing in West Virginia? And maybe a Congressional hearing or two?

Hello? Anyone listening?

Workers: The Secret Weapon In The Fight For Real Homeland Security

It is ironic -- no, tragic -- that the Bush administration banned and harrassed unions in certain "sensitive" government agencies because unions and homeland security are somehow incompatible, yet it is chemical plant workers -- union workers -- who are best able to help prevent destruction by home-made weapons of mass destruction -- in our chemical plants.

A column in today's Philadelphia Inquirer by Rick Engler, director of the New Jersey Work Environment Council (WEC) and WEC President and Teamsters Local 877 member John Pajak, explain the benefits to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's new policy that requires chemical companies using extremely hazardous chemicals to include workers during DEP inspections of their facilities. It's the first policy of its kind in the country and will allow workers to "help identify hazards, including those that might lead to catastrophic chemical incidents, whether from industrial accidents or terrorist acts."
Because of their daily work, training and experience, chemical workers know the risks - and the gaps in addressing them - better than anyone. A 2004 national survey of unions at 125 facilities using high volumes of extremely hazardous materials revealed that few companies involved their hourly workforces or local union leaders in assessing vulnerabilities, incident prevention, or planning for emergencies.

The DEP's worker-involvement policy has national implications because New Jersey is the first state to comply with the federal Clean Air Act mandate stating that "employees and their representatives shall have the same rights to participate in... inspections as provided in the Occupational Safety and Health Act." This little-known language makes it clear that the Environmental Protection Agency, along with states such as New Jersey that have assumed Clean Air Act enforcement responsibilities, must ensure worker/union participation in inspections.

Mine Disasters On T.V.

Here are some excerpts from television interviews about the recent mine disasters.

CNN PAULA ZAHN NOW 8:00 PM EST, January 23, 2006C

CHRIS HUNTINGTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This West Virginia miner is still trying to come to grips with the tragedy in the Aracoma Mine, the fire that he escaped, but that killed his friends, Don Bragg and Elvis Hatfield.

He has asked us not to reveal his identity out of respect for them and their families. Shortly after 5:30 this last Thursday afternoon, his group of 12 miners learned that a conveyor belt had caught fire. They immediately began their escape. But it was more than two miles to the nearest mine exit.

UNIDENTIFIED MINER: We started just smelling -- smelling the fire a little bit. And then we started running into some light smoke. And, at that time, nobody had their apparatuses on. We was all just kind of covering our faces and covering our mouths with our jacket.

HUNTINGTON: Were you scared?

UNIDENTIFIED MINER: Definitely. I faced -- I faced death right now. I really did. I thought -- I didn't think I was coming home to see my family.

HUNTINGTON: But then the smoke turned black and choking, and they had to put on their emergency breathing gear.

UNIDENTIFIED MINER: We was trying to put the apparatus on. And the smoke was so bad that I was -- myself -- and I can vouch that others around me was gagging, gasping for air, suffocating, and throwing up. I was throwing up. And I know a couple -- couple of my buddies was throwing up as well.

HUNTINGTON: This miner dropped his goggles. And he said others did, too. The smoke was so thick, they couldn't even see their miner lights. Moving single file, with each man holding on to the man in front, they felt their way blindly along a coal shaft for nearly the length of a football field, searching for an escape door they believed would lead to fresh air.

UNIDENTIFIED MINER: As we worked our way, you know, to the door, the guy in the back, which was the boss, you know, he assumed that they was 11 miners in front of him. And the guy in the front assumed that 11 miners was behind him. As soon as we got through the door, we realized two was missing.

And we didn't know, couldn't figure out how they got separated from us. And we finally realized we couldn't not find them. So, all of the 10 that made it out got together and...

HUNTINGTON (on camera): At that point, did you know it was Don and Elvis?

UNIDENTIFIED MINER: We -- we knew who was missing, yes. We didn't know who was -- we knew exactly when we got through the door who was missing.

HUNTINGTON (voice-over): They yelled back through the door, as a couple of them made two trips back into the smoke to search for Bragg and Hatfield.

(on camera): What was your first feeling when you knew you were nine...


HUNTINGTON: Or you knew you were 10, not 12?

UNIDENTIFIED MINER: You get a real sickening feeling to your stomach, just wondering where -- where could they have gone, you know, where they -- where could they be?

HUNTINGTON (voice-over): After 15 frightening minutes of trying to find the other two, the 10 had no choice, but to save themselves and pray.

UNIDENTIFIED MINER: You hear a lot of stories about, you know, what -- people say what I would have done and what this one would have done. And, in a situation like that, I can honestly say now there is not much you can do.

HUNTINGTON (on camera): Do you think this could have been prevented?

UNIDENTIFIED MINER: This was pure accident. I mean, this -- this -- the only way this could have been prevented is if you would have had five or six guys at that one area when the fire started.

HUNTINGTON (voice-over): But he is upset that there was not a mine rescue team on site familiar with the huge labyrinth of the Aracoma Mine.

UNIDENTIFIED MINER: Most of the guys on the mine rescue teams have never been under that hill right there specifically.

HUNTINGTON (on camera): Given what you have been through, will you go back into the mines?

UNIDENTIFIED MINER: Me personally, I -- I probably won't go back under the hill.

HUNTINGTON (voice-over): But while he was under that hill, he knew he would make every effort to get out.

(on camera): What gave you the determination to keep your head together to get out of there?

UNIDENTIFIED MINER: Probably -- probably my kids. I mean, that's all that -- I mean, I have got, you know, two young kids. And I knew, you know -- that's all that kept going through my head. You know, I have got to I have got to -- I have got to see them, you know, and...

HUNTINGTON: Chris Huntington, CNN, Melville, West Virginia.

And one more from CNN on the profitability of the coal industry.

CNN 1:00 PM EST, January 23, 2006

KYRA PHILLIPS: With the recent coal mine tragedies and talk of boosting safety, we wanted to look at just how profitable coal mining is. Here's the facts.


TONY HARRIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The biggest U.S. coal producer, Peabody Energy, made a profit of $260 million in the first three quarters of 2005. That put the company on track to double its annual profits from the previous year.

The nation's second largest coal mining company, Arch Coal, also had higher properties, up about 25 percent, to $91 million in the first nine months of 2005.

Coal industry profits can't hold a candle to profits from other industries. Oil, for instance. Exxon Mobil made a record $25 billion profit in 2004. But coal profits and the stock prices of the major producers have risen sharply in the past couple of years.

The trend holds with International Coal Group. In March of last year, it bought the Sago Mine, where 12 miners died this month. ICG had a net income of $29 million for the first nine months of 2005, compared to a heavy loss the previous year.

Analysts expect coal profits to rise further as the cost of natural gas and oil increases. Analysts expect the demand for coal to double in the next 20 years.

More 2006 Mine Disaster Stories

Monday, January 23, 2006

Graniteville, SC: One Year Later

One of the more chilling workplace and environmental incidents of last year was the chlorine release in Graniteville, SC that killed nine workers, the train's engineer and eight workers in an adjacent Avondale Mills factory, after a train carrying pressurized chlorine gas crashed into a parked train on Jan. 6, 2005.

In addition to the nine workers killed -- 240 were injured and more than 5,000 residents were forced to flee the poisonous gas that seeped into their homes for days.

That event was over a year ago, but the effects linger, not just in the physical health of the residents, but in the economic and social health of the community.
"It has been one thing after another," said Logan, an inspector for the Douglas Schmidt Law Office, which represents 600 residents and business owners who say the spill harmed their property or their health.

As a result of the corrosive gas, Patricia Courtney's clocks stopped telling time; Melinda Borst's television turned itself on and off; and the organ at Graniteville's First Baptist Church emitted sound erratically.

Many residents fear that this close-knit community will never recover from the train derailment, the deadliest train wreck involving hazardous material since 1978. They worry about the future of Avondale Mills, the 13-acre industrial complex in the heart of town. In October, the company announced plans to lay off 350 workers and sue Norfolk Southern for "catastrophic damage" to its machinery.

Norfolk Southern has estimated that it would spend $39 million cleaning up the accident and paying legal claims.

"The chlorine damage is more insidious than anyone expected," said Stephen Felker, Avondale Mills' manager of corporate development.

According to papers filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company had spent $52.5 million on cleanup costs by August, the end of its fiscal year.
And the physical and emotional health of the residents isn't great either:
Within 48 hours of the crash, the department conducted an epidemiological assessment of nearly 300 people. Nearly 80 percent experienced symptoms such as severe coughing, burning eyes, chest pains, skin rashes, headaches, dizziness and nausea.

Jerry Gibson, director of the department's Bureau of Disease Control, said a follow-up of half of those people last summer found that 80 percent were still experiencing symptoms.

Inside her Graniteville home on Laurel Drive, Melinda Borst notices that fewer neighbors walk outside or spend time in their yards.

"They just do what they have to do, and then they come inside," she said. "It's like the whole community has suffered a death."
Graniteville is a small community. Imagine the incredible devastation if this had happened in the middle of a large city....

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Federal and State Legislative Activity Around Mine Safety

The Senate appropriations commitee held a hearing on the Sago tragedy today. The most interesting part was when the Senator Tom Harken asked about new technologies that could help locate miners and communicate with them after an accident, Acting Assistant Secretary for MSHA, Robert Dye said that the technologies still hard problems.

Then up came Davitt McAteer, head of MSHA under Clinton and currently W.Va Governor Manchin's advisor for mine safety, held up the devices and objected:
"To act like these devices aren't ready to go is just plain wrong," he said, adding, small low-frequency tracking devices and one-way text messaging had both already been approved for use and had contributed to saving lives at several mines that voluntarily adopted their use.
McAteer said that the messaging devices would cost up to $150,000 for a mine the size of Sago (or $750 per miner) and the transponders used to locate lost miners would only cost $20 per miner. McAteer said that no mines in the United States were using the text messaging technology (allowing those above ground to communicate with the miners (for example, about where to find fresh air or evacuation routes), although it was in widespread use in Australia where the government helped develop it. The locator devices, according to McAteer were being used in perhaps 14 out of the 15,000 coal and metal/non-metal mines in the country.

Harkin responded, "Gosh, I hate to regulate everythinhg, but dogone it, if they're not going to do it, we've got to force them to do it."

Meanwhile, the West Virginia legislature unanimously passed a bill that would require mines to use electronic devices to track trapped miners and stockpile oxygen to keep them alive until help arrives.
"No miner's family is going to have to endure what we all endured for 90 hours over the past three weeks," the governor said.

If the 14 miners who died in two accidents since Jan. 2 had been wearing tracking devices, "we could have concentrated all our efforts, all our resources on that one location," Manchin said.
The legislation also required extra supplies of oxygen to be placed around the mine and
Manchin also proposed to fine coal companies $100,000 if they fail to report an emergency within 15 minutes. At Sago, company officials placed the first calls to state and federal safety officials more than an hour after the explosion. It was not immediately clear when the first calls were placed in the Aracoma fire.
More 2006 Mine Disaster Stories

Nursing Homes: When the worker's safe, the resident's safe

Nursing homes aren't coal mines, steel mills or construction sites,
True, nursing home workers don't die on the job, not like cops or firefighters or construction workers. But they get hurt more than almost anyone - in 2004, one in 10 suffered an injury that was reported to federal authorities.

And unlike other high-injury jobs in factories and warehouses, when nursing-home workers get hurt, it costs you money, because it costs nursing homes money, and most of New York's $11 billion nursing-home industry is paid for by taxpayers through Medicaid and Medicare.

And unlike in many other workplaces, nursing home workers are responsible for other people. Fragile people.

"When the worker's safe, the resident's safe," says Wayne Young, a safety officer with the Service Employees International Union Local 1199. "But when the workers are unsafe, it's only a matter of time before a resident gets injured."
More mechanical lifts and more training help, but the main problem is understaffing, which causes nursing home worker to rush.

But it pays to fix things -- both for workers, patients, and the bottom line:
With all that nursing homes spend on insurance, overtime and turnover, it would be cheaper to invest in safety, said Janet Foley, safety director for the Civil Service Employees Association, which represents workers in many public nursing homes. In places that have done so, workers are healthier and happier. Turnover goes down. And there might even be money left over to hire some more aides.

"This," Foley said, "is a no-brainer."

The Loss Of A Great Man

Not a famous man, but a great one.

Last Spring I wrote about the death of Mike Morrison in a 12 foot deep trench. Plenty of workers are killed every year in unshored trenches that violate OSHA regulations, but I highlighted Morrison's case because he was "only" buried up to his waist and was conscious during much of the rescue attempt, yet the weight of the soil was enough to crush his internal organs and kill him. There was an important lesson there for those who think they can just dig themselves out if they're caught in a trench collapse.

Today I received a letter from Morrison's step-daughter, Michelle Lewis, about what Morrison's death did to her family and their anger over his preventable death. I'm reprinting part of it below, but go here and read the entire letter.
How could Mike have lost his life at just 48 years old? He was strong, skilled and one of the most respected plumbers in Pinellas County. That Thursday morning, our mom and Mike talked about their retirement dreams and what they would have for dinner. “Give me a kiss goodbye, my prince,” my mom asked. How could Mike have gone to work just miles away, never to return?


The Occupational and Health Administration cited Mike’s employer, B&B Plumbing, with five violations. The nine-foot trench was not inspected or secured properly before Mike and others were sent into it. No sloping, shoring or shielding was provided, which is required by OSHA for any trench deeper than five feet. B&B was fined $21,000 by federal officials. Is this a serious consequence? Will this help employers learn to protect their employees from harm? When thinking about my family’s loss, this fine seems disproportionate and absurdly inadequate, but nothing can bring Mike back to us. Our pain will never go away; neither will the images of Mike’s death that haunt us. I can only hope that people will learn from Mike’s death and will take every measure imaginable to ensure the safety of workers.

My sisters, mother and I have felt compelled to stop at work-sites as we have passed them in recent months. We have shared Mike’s story with friends and strangers. We want to honor Mike and to remind people to be safe at any cost. To my family, Mike is a hero.

He died providing for his wife and family and ultimately teaching others to be safe. He gave my mother the happiest times of her life, as she gave to him. My mother often says with sadness in her eyes and longing in her heart, “This never should have happened to Mike.” She is right. Mike’s death was preventable, as most trench collapses are.

Somehow, my mom tries to go on. It is a struggle that words cannot express. This year, we will continue to mourn the loss of a great man, a hard-working man who cherished my mom and his family, adored his cats and liked to take walks at Seminole Park. We will find happiness in our memories and strength from kind friends and family around us.

We will pray for the safety of workers everywhere and we will continue to share Mike’s story to advocate for safe working conditions. That’s what Mike would want.

Jackson Lewis: One Stop Shopping for Union Busting Lessons and OSHA Directors

It's pretty frightening out there for companies just sitting around minding their own business. You've got this new "Change To Win" union things that's boasting "$750 Million per Year Pledged for Organizing," and the AFL-CIO reacting "to New Competition by Pledging Aggressive Organizing of its Own." And then there's all those "Neutrality Agreements, Card Checks, and Corporate Campaigns Used Widely to Unionize Without NLRB Elections."

With all that going on, some of you may be interested in attending one of these workshops on "How To Stay Union Free," conducted by Jackson Lewis. For only $595, you too can learn
  • How to empower your supervisors to exercise their union-free rights under the law
  • How to protect your company's property rights when confronted with organizing
  • How to define the communications agenda and put the union on the defensive
But wait a minute, now where have I heard of Jackson-Lewis? That name sure rings a bell.

Oh yeah, that's the employer of President Bush's nominee to head OSHA, Edwin Foulke.

And by the way, if any of you union finks are thinking of sneaking in, the brochure states that
The discussions are frank. No recording devices are allowed. Individuals affiliated with union organizations are not eligible for registration. Jackson Lewis reserves the right to refuse participation in the program to anyone other than a bona-fide management representative.

Study Confirms Dangerous Conditions and Exploitation of Immigrant Day Laborers

The pervasiveness of wage violations and dangerous working conditions was the most surprising finding to the professors who conducted the first nationwide study on day laborers.
The study found that 73 percent said they were placed in hazardous working conditions, like digging ditches, working with chemicals, or on roofs or scaffolding. The report said that employers often put day laborers into dangerous jobs that regular workers were reluctant to do - often with minimal training and safety equipment.

One-fifth said that in the past year they had suffered injuries requiring medical attention, and 60 percent of that group said their injuries caused them to miss more than a week of work.

The study, "On The Corner: Day Labor in the United States," was conducted by professors from the University of Illinois at Chicago, the University of California, Los Angeles and New York's New School University.

"Day laborers continue to endure unsafe working conditions, mainly because they fear that if they speak up, complain, or otherwise challenge these conditions, they will either be fired or not paid for their work," the report said.

Among day laborers injured on the job during the previous year, 54 percent said they had not received the medical care they needed, mostly because they could not afford health care or the employer refused to cover them under the company's workers' compensation insurance.
The survey, which was based on interviews with 2,660 workers at 264 hiring sites in 20 states and the District of Columbia, also found that three-fourths of day laborers were illegal immigrants and that more than half said employers had cheated them on wages in the previous two months.

Update: The full study can be found here.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Weekly Toll

Due to an illness in the Confined Space family and the press of work around the recent mine disasters, this Weekly Toll actually covers three weeks, instead of the usual two. Coincidentally, it also covers the period between the Sago mine disaster that killed 12 miners, and the Alma incident that killed two miners last week.

During this period, we have lost a total of 15 miners in this country, but statistically, (based on a total of 5703 workplace deaths in 2004, the most recent year that statistics are available), over 300 American workers died in the workplace over the past three weeks. Below, we've managed to identify over one hundred of those from web searches. Aside from the West Virginia miners, few of the workers killed in the past few weeks received any recognition. There were no editorials thundering about the need for a stronger OSHA, no calls for Congressional investigations. Most died alone, unnoticed by anyone except their immediate family, friends and co-workers. In other words, outside of West Virginia, it was just the typical few weeks in the American workplace.

-- Jordan

Worker dies in construction accident in Stony Point

STONY POINT, NY — A 33-year-old worker died an hour after being struck yesterday by an excavator digging outside a house on Captain Faldermeyer Court.

Thomas Collins of Garnerville was hit by the excavator's bucket and forced into the side of the house about 11 a.m., Stony Point police Lt. Brian Moore said yesterday.

"They were excavating, and the machine was digging up dirt and rotating back and forth on its tracks when the bucket hit him," Moore said. "He was temporarily pinned against the side of the house."

Collins lost consciousness and was considered critical when emergency medical personnel took him to a helicopter landing zone at the nearby North Rockland soccer fields. He was then flown to Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla.

Collins, who is married, died from his injuries at 12:04 p.m. at the medical center.

He worked for James R. Giutarra Inc., which had about five workers on the property who were building an extension.

Industrial accident turns fatal

HAMILTON, IN — A Brookville, Ind. man hurt in an industrial accident at SMART Papers here Sunday morning died of his injuries Thursday.

Bill Bailey, 37, is survived by his wife, Cherry L. Bailey, and two sons, ages 10 and 9.
The Hamilton Fire Department was dispatched to the paper mill just before 8:30 a.m. Sunday. Rescue workers reportedly found Bailey at the finishing end of the paper manufacturing line with his arm and chest stuck in rollers.

Workers Killed In Separate Accidents

Indianapolis, IN -- Police are investigating a pair of work-related accidents.

An accident at a west side business left one man dead.Police said a worker was using a Bobcat to move tractor-trailers when another worker stepped in front of the machine at Estes Express Lines' terminal.

The person operating the Bobcat was unable to stop and hit the other worker. The man was taken to Wishard Hospital, where he died Saturday. Investigators are trying to determine exactly how the accident happened.

A garbage truck worker in Johnson County was killed in another work-related accident. Police said Joseph Perry, 38, was riding on the back of a garbage truck when he slipped off while the truck was backing up. The truck ran over Perry, killing him instantly. Police are investigating.

2 Missing Workers Are Found Dead in West Virginia Mine

MELVILLE, W.Va. - An agonizing two-day wait came to a tragic end on Saturday when rescue workers found the bodies of two miners who were trapped by a fire that began on a conveyor belt 900 feet underground.

Gov. Joe Manchin III, whose state is still reeling from the deaths of 12 miners in Sago after a Jan. 2 explosion, expressed anguish Saturday and pledged to introduce legislation on Monday to improve mine safety.

"I can't tell you the pain that we have," Mr. Manchin said at a news conference after visiting the families who were gathered at the Brightstar Freewill Baptist Church in this tiny mining community 60 miles southwest of Charleston.

The smoky blaze had raged underground at the Alma Mine 1 here since Thursday night. Officials identified the two miners as Don I. Bragg, 33, of Accoville, and Ellery Hatfield, 47, who was known as Elvis, of Simon. Both men had more than 10 years of experience in mining and had worked at Alma for five years.

Mr. Manchin said Mr. Bragg had two young children and Mr. Hatfield had four. "No families should have to go through what these families have been through," he said.

Summerville Cab Driver Shot And Killed On The Job

Summerville, SC - Nelsena Jenkins, 25, was shot and killed when she picked up passengers in her cab Wednesday night. Police believe it was a botched robbery, but the two suspects took nothing. Jenkins responded to a dispatch call just before 11 p.m. on Wednesday night at Wilson Creek Road in the Carnes Crossing Mobile Home Park in Summerville. A friend was riding with her. Witnesses and police say two African-American men, between the ages of 19 and 25 approached the cab and one got in the backseat behind the driver and shot Jenkins in the back of the head. The two men ran away on foot and the passenger was not injured.

Portsmouth man killed during tire mishap

PORTSMOUTH, VA — A city man was killed Thursday after trying to replace a tractor-trailer tire. The tire apparently ruptured so violently, blasting air toward him so hard that colleagues said three layers of clothes were blown off of his chest. Police identified the man as Andrew S. Staten , 48, of the 100 block of Wilson Pkwy . Staten worked changing tires at Bob Ewell Tire Service in the 700 block of Constitution Ave.

Building elevator crushes two workers, killing one in Nashville

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- One elevator technician was killed and another injured when an elevator fell on top of them while they worked at a Nashville office building. The workers were in the elevator shaft below the first floor shortly before 10 a.m. when a car fell and trapped them, Nashville Fire Department spokesman Charles Shannon said.

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Construction worker falls 20 feet off roof

MILTON — A 34-year-old Middletown iron worker fell 20 feet from a roof at the Milton School construction site Thursday morning.

Joseph Pollack, an Andron Construction Co. employee, slipped on ice at 9 a.m., Rye police Lt. Robert Falk said Friday. He was conscious when police arrived, Falk said, and was treated for head, neck and shoulder injuries as well as difficulty breathing and chest pain by Port Chester-Rye Volunteer Ambulance workers before being taken to Westchester Medical Center.

Sheriff's officer dies in crash

Chicago, IL - The Cook County Sheriff's Department is grieving the loss of one of its own. Veteran patrol officer James Knapp died Wednesday when his patrol car slid into the back of a semi truck stopped to make a left turn, officials said. Knapp, 50, of South Holland, was on his way to work at the Cook County courthouse in Bridgeview. He was with the department 16 years.

Recent Tragedy Suggests Need for Improvement in Mining Safety

Sago, WV - U.S. government health and safety officials are investigating the cause of the recent explosion at a West Virginia coal mine, which killed 12 miners. The accident was apparently an aberration in an industry that has prided itself on miner safety during a time of unprecedented expansion. More Thomas P. Anderson, age 39, Alva Martin, Bennett, age 51, Jim Bennett, age 61, Jerry Groves, age 56, George Junior Hamner, age 54, Terry Helms, age 50, Jesse L. Jones, age 44, David Lewis, age 28, Martin Toler Jr. age 51 (mine foreman), Fred Ware Jr., age 58, Jack Weaver, age 51, Marshall Winans, age 50

Dust in air blamed in fatal plant fire, Source of first spark unknown

STATESVILLE, NC - Dust ignited by an unknown source was to blame for several explosions at a livestock feed plant here Friday, according to fire officials. One worker was killed and another was seriously injured. "The fire in Kinston, this is the same thing all over again," said Iredell County Fire Marshal Lloyd Ramsey, referring to a 2003 fire that started when dust ignited at a Kinston pharmaceutical plant, killing six and injuring dozens. At the Land O'Lakes Purina Feed plant in Statesville, there were at least three explosions, each more violent than the one before, Ramsey said. Because of the extensive damage, it's unclear which of the explosions started the main fire that raged for over 24 hours, although it is known that the first explosion was in the basement, he said. The N.C. Labor Department conducted its first routine inspection of the nine-year-old plant Dec. 22 and found no evidence of any conditions that would lead to an explosion. Grinding animal feed produces dust, which can cause an explosion anywhere, Ramsey said. It's lucky more people weren't injured, he said. "If it had (happened) on first shift, it could've been very, very much worse," he said. Purina employee Jimmy Booe, 24, died Saturday from burns he received during one of the explosions. He was working near a large container of propionic acid, which caught fire, Ramsey said.

Ran over by forklift

TX, unknown women, 38 ran over by forklift while working for the International Longshoreman's Association.

Verizon worker dead in car-train collision south of Tri-Cities

Richland, OR- A utility truck and a freight train collided at an unsignaled road crossing west of this hamlet on the Columbia river south of the Tri-Cities, and the truck driver died at the scene, authorities said. Kevin Heinrichson, 42, of Richland, a Verizon Communications employee, was pronounced dead at the scene Wednesday afternoon, Benton County sheriff's deputy Joseph Lusignan Jr. said.

Pearl Harbor worker dies after crash

HONOLULU, HI The Navy says a man died today following a single vehicle accident at Naval Station Pearl Harbor. A release issued by the Navy says the accident happened just before ten o'clock this morning. The civilian employee was pronounced dead at Kapiolani Medical Center at Pali Momi. The cause of death is being investigated. Navy spokeswoman Barbara Mertz says the man's family needs to be notified before other details can be released.

Construction Worker Dies In Fall

KAYSVILLE, UT - A man died Wednesday after he fell 20 to 25-feet at a construction site in Kaysville. Police say 42-year-old Jeffery A. Wilson of Albany, Oregon was working on a roof of a soon-to-be-completed tire store when he fell through a hole. Kaysville Corporal Mike Brown says about eight workers were on the roof at the time, but no one saw Wilson fall. However, they did hear him yelling out as he went through the hole. Brown says Wilson received severe head injuries. The incident is being investigated.

Employee Found Dead In Lounge

SAVANNAH, GA -- Savannah police are investigating the death of a man found dead this morning at a local lounge. Police say an employee of Uncle Harry's Lounge made the discovery shortly before 10 o'clock on Chatham County's westside. Investigators found the body of a middle-aged white male who had suffered at least one gunshot wound. The victim has been identified as an employee of the business but detectives are not releasing his name until the family is notified. Savannah-Chatham County Police say the body has been sent to the GBI Crime Lab. Investigators say the appears to have stemmed from a robbery.

Barge worker dies Saturday

CHARLESTON, MO — Authorities are investigating the death of a barge worker from the St. Louis area. According to Mississippi County Coroner Terry A. Parker, Corey Stockl, 27, fell from the boat he was working on early Saturday morning into the Mississippi River between Charleston and Cairo, Ill. Stockl was pulled from the river and brought to the Missouri shore by co- workers who also called for assistance. He was air-lifted to the St. Francis Medical Center in Cape Girardeau where he was pronounced deal on arrival. The preliminary autopsy from Jan. 1 indicates Stockl died as a result of drowning but a complete autopsy and toxicology results will be available in 3-4 weeks, according to Parker. The incident is being investigated by Parker, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Alexander County (Ill.) Sheriff’s Department at Cairo.

Chesapeake Teen Dies From Window Washing Fall

Chesapeake, VA- An 18-year-old Chesapeake man fell three stories when a window washing rig collapsed. Travis Farmer died from his injuries on New Years Day. Farmer was working on the third floor windows on the back of the Resource Bank Building on Bonney Road in Virginia Beach on December 22nd. Emergency Medical Services Division Chief Bruce Nedelka says Farmer was in a platform cage type rig. "The rig slipped and the cable slipped away. He fell three floors to the ground. As it hit the ground it caved in and collapsed on him." Rescue crews arrived minutes after the accident and had to separate the young man from the rig and try to save his life. Nedelka says timing was crucial. "He was in bad shape. One of our volunteer EMS paramedics was able to secure an airway for him." That airway kept the young Hickory High School graduate alive. He was rushed to the Hospital and lived several more days. Travis Farmer passed away on January First.

Waupun Man Falls to his Death at Industrial Plant

Waupun, WI - Fond du Lac police have identified the 21 year old man found dead in an industrial plant. Police say Eric Passon of Waupun is believed to have fallen to his death from an overhead crane in the Giddings and Lewis industrial plant. He was with a 23 year old man at the time. Police aren't sure how the men got in, since neither works at the plant and the site was closed for the New Year's holiday. Police believe both men were intoxicated when they entered the building with the intent of riding the crane. A security guard told police she passed Passon's body twice but she thought his legs were those of a mannequin. Police are continuing to investigate but say they don't suspect foul play. Captain Mike Frank says nothing was missing from thebuilding or damaged.

Kilgoreite killed in industrial accident

Kilgore, TX- A 19-year old Kilgore man was killed in what Smith County Sheriff official term an industrial accident about 10 a.m. Saturday. Lt. Larry Wiginton of the Smith County Sheriff ’s Office, said Casey McLane died from apparently suffocating in a pit of sand at Ables Trucking Co. The accident reportedly occurred just over the line into Smith county at the company’s yard. “The victim went up the silo and fell and somehow smothered in the sand,” Wiginton said. “As far as we can speculate he drowned in sand and it was an industrial accident.”

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As We See It: Officer just doing his job

Creek, CA - The New Year's Eve death of a California Highway Patrol officer is a reminder during this week of dangerous weather and traffic of how some public servants put their lives on the line to help others. CHP Lt. Michael Walker died on Highway 17 as he attempted to set out flares to help a motorist whose car had spun out on the always precarious highway. He was being aided by an employee of Caltrans, the state highway authority, whose truck was parked along the highway. Then an Audi driven by a Boulder Creek man crashed into the Caltrans truck, which struck and killed Walker, according to the CHP. The driver of the Audi, Jerry Blinkenberg, also died, and the Caltrans worker was injured but survived. Walker, a husband, father of two daughters and a 24-year CHP veteran, had been promoted from his previous position in Vacaville, where his family still lives, to his new post in Santa Cruz in 2004.

Vectren Worker Killed, Name Released

Boonville, IN - A Boonville Vectren worker was killed while working to repair a transformer after Monday's thunderstorms moved though the Tri-State. Vectren says 60-year-old Russ Linxwiler was killed as his crew worked to restore electricity in the Quail Crossing subdivision, off Highway 261. Warrick County sheriff's deputies say workers were using a robotic piece of equipment to move a transformer when the equipment overturned on him.

Worker dies after fall at Wyo mine

ROCK SPRINGS, WY -- The nation's 21st coal mining fatality of 2005 occurred in Wyoming in late December and was the result of a Dec. 9 surface accident at Bridger Coal Co.'s underground coal mine east of Rock Springs, according to authorities. According to the Mine Safety and Health Administration Web site and an obituary in the Salt Lake Tribune, 49-year-old Henry Michael Oneida died on Dec. 26 from injuries received in a fall at the mine. The accident is under investigation by MSHA officials. The victim was employed by a construction contracting company. The Bridger Coal mine is located about 10 miles northeast of Point of Rocks in Sweetwater County. The mine is owned by Pacific Minerals Inc. and Idaho Energy Resources. The mine recently completed a transformation from a surface mine to an underground mine to allow workers to follow the coal seams as they dip beneath the earth.

The incident marked the third fatality at the Bridger Coal Mine since 1999, according to MSHA's list of fatal mine accidents in Wyoming. In July 1999, Gary Haines was pinned by equipment while repairing a dragline and died at the mine. And in September 2000, Kevin Fletcher was struck by a large hook while repairing equipment at the mine. He died six days later. Oneida's death is the second mine-related death in Sweetwater County in 2005. Terry Bigler of Green River was crushed to death by a piece of equipment in April while working underground at OCI Wyoming Inc.'s trona mine and soda ash processing plant west of Green River.

Rig crashes off I-81; driver dead

Berkely Springs,WV- A driver of a tractor-trailer hauling vehicles on Interstate 81 in Berkeley County was found dead Monday night after his truck went over an embankment and landed in a creek, according to West Virginia State Police. A co-worker who was following the truck said the rig, which was heading north on the interstate, went left and through a barrier cable in the median. The truck then continued north in the southbound lane before going over a hill and down into the creek, the co-worker said The accident occurred at the King Street exit (exit 13) of the interstate. Trooper J.D. Burkhart said the driver, who looked to be in his 80s, might have suffered a medical condition that contributed to the accident. Burkhart said the man suffered few visible injuries.

Greensburg man fixing signal killed by van

Horsham, PA - Montgomery County authorities are trying to determine why a 47-year-old man swerved his van erratically Friday and struck and killed a Westmoreland County man who was fixing a traffic signal. Jonathan "Jon" Sabol, 23, of Greensburg, and the driver of the van, Gary Grosso, 47, of Upper Moreland Township, died in the crash that occurred in Horsham Township, just south of Philadelphia, at 11:12 a.m. Sabol, an employee of Bruce & Merrilees Electric Co., of New Castle, Lawrence County, was working on a traffic signal at an intersection along Horsham Road at Tournament Drive when a van went out of control and hit him. Sabol was pinned beneath the van and was pronounced dead about one hour later at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, where he was airlifted after the crash. Grosso was pronounced dead at the scene.

Berrien County deputies investigate death of bar employee after large fight

Niles, IN -Berrien County Sheriff Deputies are investigating the death of a Niles man following a bar fight. Deputies responded to a large fight call at Jay's Lounge in Niles Township just before 2:30 a.m. Sunday morning. When Deputies arrived they found 36 year old Guy Barry Winston on the ground outside the front door. Bar employees were performing CPR on him. He was transported to Memorial Hospital, South Bend, Indiana, were He was pronounced dead a short time later. Winston was an employee of Jay's Lounge and was working the door when the fight started. Witnesses say he was trying to break up the fight. An autopsy is being done to determine the cause of death. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Berrien County Sheriff's Office.

Man dies in cement truck wreck

AR - A 59-year-old Baxter County man was killed when the Mountain Home Concrete truck he was driving apparently left Shipps Ferry Road, also known as County Road 61, at a curve and went down an embankment near the White River Friday morning. Robert G. Neuhaus of County Road 603 was pronounced dead at the scene by the Baxter County Coroner's Office.

Missionary from Greeley shot, companion killed in Va.

Chesapeake, Va. - A 19-year-old Greeley man was wounded and his Mormon missionary companion was killed Monday when they were shot while doing missionary work in the Deep Creek area. Police are investigating whether Morgan Winslow Young, 21, of Bountiful, Utah, and Joshua Heidbrink of Greeley were shot because they had seen another crime. Officials said Young died Monday evening and that Heidbrink was hospitalized but appears to be recovering.

Miner Dies In Roof Collapse

Pikeville, KY (AP) -- A roof collapse at an eastern Kentucky coal mine killed one miner Tuesday, a state official said. The rock fall occurred about 900 feet inside the Maverick Mining Co. LLC mine in Pikeville, near the Virginia line, said Chuck Wolfe, spokesman for the Kentucky Office of Mine Safety and Licensing. Wolfe said Tuesday night the miner who was killed was the only person harmed. The miner was identified as Cornelius Yates, 44, of Shelbiana in Pike County, Wolfe said.

Police looking for leads in hit-and-run

Sioux Falls, SD - Greg Zuba saw the country - Florida, California, Pennsylvania, and all roads between. "He loved it. He loved being in his semi and going," said longtime friend Jennifer Brennan. That was until Zuba, from Erie, Pa., was killed Nov. 9 when he was crushed beneath the wheels of another trucker's vehicle in a hit-and-run accident at the Pilot Travel Center in Sioux Falls.

Physician recounts effort to save worker

Fredericksburg, VA - One of the physicians who tried to help Clara F. Aziere, 61 after she collapsed at Mary Washington Hospital last week has provided new details about the incident. Dr. Bradford L. King, a Fredericksburg surgeon, said yesterday that he was at the nurse's station on 4 North about 8:45 a.m., Friday when Aziere's body was discovered. Aziere, a respiratory therapist, was on duty that morning but had been missing since about 3:30 a.m., King said. Her colleagues had tried unsuccessfully to find her by paging her and by calling her cell phone. Finally, officials began a hospitalwide search.

Worker dies from injuries in explosion

Basking Ridge, NJ - A worker burned in a tanker truck explosion Tuesday in Hillsborough has died from his injuries. John Morella, 54, of the Basking Ridge section of Bernards, died early this morning at St. Barnabas hospital. Morella and Kevin Migliore, 37, of Dunellen were performing maintenance on an empty tanker truck used to haul liquid asphalt at Allied Oil on Old Camplain Road, when the explosion occurred. Migliore remains in critical condition at St. Barnabas Hospital burn unit in Livingston. An investigation into the cause of the explosion is ongoing.

Worker dies [Two Workers] die in explosion, 1 burned in blast at sewage treatment plant

Daytona Beach, FL - As black clouds blanketed the sky, dozens of firefighters, police officers, paramedics and hazardous materials inspectors worked feverishly to determine what prompted an explosion that rocked a city wastewater plant on the Halifax River on Wednesday morning. When the dust had settled, emergency officials and authorities discovered that one city worker was dead and two others had burns over most of their bodies. Four more city employees -- including a firefighter who had trouble breathing --were taken to Halifax Medical Center. Eric Johnson, the 59-year-old lead plant mechanic at the Bethune Point Wastewater Treatment Plant on Shady Place, was killed instantly, city officials said. His colleagues, maintenance workers Clyde Anthony Jones, 40, and Michael Martin, 42, were airlifted to Orlando Regional Medical Center with second- and third-degree burns, said EVAC ambulance spokesman Mark O'Keefe and Daytona Beach fire spokesman Lt. John King. more Blast claims 2nd Daytona worker. [Jones died the next day].

Mosaic Worker Killed

Mulberry, FL - A worker at a Mosaic plant was found dead early Thursday morning after an apparent fall, the Polk County Sheriff's Office reported. James McComic, 61, was found dead at 2:15 a.m. when two co-workers found him on a concrete ramp at the plant at 4390 County Road 640. He had a head injury and was unconscious, said sheriff's spokeswoman Carrie Rodgers. The co-workers immediately called 911.

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Worker dies after being dragged down street by trailer

Punta Gorda, FL - A Punta Gorda construction worker died Tuesday after he fell between a co-worker's truck and trailer and was dragged 83 feet from Blue Lake Circle to Kindel Court, according to a Florida Highway Patrol report. Edwin McNulty, 45, went to the back of the truck to remove something, said FHP Cpl. Duane Rolli. Driver Eduardo C. Ugarte, who did not notice McNulty behind the truck, drove forward. McNulty tried to keep up with the moving truck, but slipped and fell beneath the trailer. The driver and the victim lived at the same address on Dunedin Court in Punta Gorda. Rolli called it a tragic accident and said no one will be charged. Jogger Henry Reposa, 59, said "I saw a fellow fall, tumble and hit his head on the pavement." Reposa said he was the first to reach the victim, who was trying to get up. "I told him to lay back down."

Memorial service set for Orcutt man killed in the line of duty

Palo Alto, CA - The decorated police officer and Orcutt resident shot to death Saturday while on patrol for the East Palo Alto Police Department will be honored Thursday during a noon memorial service at the H.P. Pavilion in San Jose. Throngs of police officers, public officials, friends and family are expected at the event honoring Officer Richard May, the 38-year-old married father of three daughters who commuted to his job in the Bay Area city. Details of a Central Coast memorial service reportedly will be finalized today. May's friends and family were reeling Monday from his death.

Policeman's death linked to Sept. 11 cleanup?

New York, NY - Family members say James Zadroga died as a result of his work at Ground Zero, A young police officer who spent hours combing the wreckage at Ground Zero is being laid to rest today. Family members say 34-year-old James Zadroga died of the respiratory disease 'black lung,' which he contracted from dust and debris during the 9/11 rescue effort. Eyewitness News reporter Lisa Colagrossi is live in North Arlington, New Jersey where a service is being held. James Zadroga worked at Ground Zero for countless hours after 9/11 and now he has paid the ultimate price. Plagued by a respiratory disease that forced him onto disability, Zadroga died last week and today family and friends paid their last respects. Police officers from around New Jersey and the NYPD lined the street in front of Queen of Peace Church in North Arlington, all here to pay tribute to the highly-decorated 13-year veteran of the force.


Lyttleton, CT - A man was killed after he became trapped under a rideon mower at Lyttleton near Christchurch this morning. Emergency services were called when a member of the public reported a man trapped under a mower in Cornwall Street at 9.25am. The man was found to be dead when fire and ambulance crews arrived. Inspector Doug Parker of the Christchurch police said it appeared the man was mowing grass on a bank in the street when the machine rolled. Police and Occupational Safety and Health were investigating. The man's name was not yet available

OSHA looks into death in Springetts, Will examine equipment, review safety practices

Abbottstown, PA -- Occupational Safety and Health Administration officials are investigating an Abbottstown business where a man died Friday after being run over at a construction site. During the next several days investigators will look at equipment, review J.W. Paving Inc. safety practices and interview employees and witnesses to the incident, said Bob Fink, area director of OSHA's Harrisburg office. David Fahnestock, 36, of Mechanicsburg died Friday afternoon from multiple blunt force trauma about three hours after the incident.

Fahnestock, a dump truck driver, was at the site at 10 a.m. on Wynwood Road in Springettsbury Township when a colleague using a Bobcat struck him and ran over him, according to Springettsbury Township Police Lt. Scott Laird.

Worker's fall at store prompts OSHA probe

Redding, CA -- The California Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating an accident at McMahan’s Furniture warehouse in Redding that left a 25-year-old employee brain dead. The Shasta County coroner’s office identified the victim as Jeffrey Alan Hager of Redding. Hager fell about 32 feet Friday from a piece of equipment called a "picker," described as a forklift with a platform, which allows employees to stock and retrieve items, said Cal-OSHA spokesman Dean Fryer.

Authorities identify man killed in construction accident

Anaconda, MT - Authorities have released the name of the man who died last week in a construction accident at Opportunity Ponds east of here. The victim was Brian D. Nelson, 42, of Anaconda, said Anaconda-Deer Lodge Coroner Guy Monaco. Nelson and other Jordan Contracting employees were building a retaining pond at a storage site for mining waste from the Milltown Dam removal project. At about 3 p.m. Friday, the bulldozer he was driving fell from the top of a dike, broke through the ice and was submerged, authorities said. Divers from Butte and Anaconda were called to the scene and recovered Nelson's body Friday evening. Jordan Contracting officials on Monday referred questions to the Atlantic Richfield Company, which owns Opportunity Ponds.

Construction worker killed in power line accident

Fort, Myers, FL - A construction worker was killed Monday morning when his concrete pumping truck hit a high-voltage power line. The accident happened at NE 10th Place and 9th Street around 9:45 a.m. The victim, 30-year-old Daniel Burton of Fort Myers, was preparing to pour cement from the Pumpco truck when the vehicle's boom touched the power line. The truck caught fire. Officials don't know if the man died from electrocution or in the resulting fire.

Worker killed in South Side construction accident

Chicago, IL - A construction worker was killed Saturday afternoon when a concrete section of a South Side building he was working on collapsed, officials said. Kevin Ryan, 37, of the 400 block of West 107th Street in Oak Lawn, was pronounced dead at 2:38 p.m. in Stroger Hospital, the Cook County medical examiner's office said. At about 2 p.m., Ryan was working on an addition to De La Salle Institute's all-girls campus, 1040 W. 32nd Pl., connected to St. Mary of Perpetual Help Church, a Fire Department spokesman said. A concrete section of the addition fell on Ryan. The rest of the building addition was secure Saturday afternoon, and the construction company working on the project had the proper permits, Chicago Building Department spokesman Pete Scales said. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating, Scales said.

Well-liked dogcatcher dies at work

IAlton, L - City employees were shocked and distraught to hear that a popular, fellow worker apparently suffered a fatal heart attack Friday morning at the Alton Public Works building. James H. "Jeep" Greer Jr., 52, Alton assistant chief of animal control, collapsed at 7:41 a.m. near the bays inside the building, at 2 Emma L. Kaus Lane. Madison County Coroner Steve Nonn said an autopsy was planned today because of Greer’s age and because he was stricken at the workplace. A coroner’s inquest will be held later to rule on the cause of death.

Jewelry Store Owner Killed In Robbery Identified

Fremont, CA - The owner of a Fremont jewelry and loan business who was shot and killed in a robbery Friday morning has been identified as Ronald Morris, 55, according to the Alameda County Coroner's Bureau. Morris, a Fremont resident, was shot in the head at about 11 a.m. on Friday as a group of men forced an employee to the floor and stole six or seven guns from a store display case, according to Fremont police. Police responding to the shooting at the Fremont Jewelry and Loan Store in the 40000 block of Fremont Boulevard found Morris behind the counter with what looked like a gunshot wound to his head. Police said the employee was not injured. The robbers fled out the rear door of the store and drove away in a small, white four-door vehicle similar to a Toyota Camry, police said. The vehicle was last seen driving through a Kentucky Fried Chicken parking lot, adjacent to the jewelry and loan store, and then north on Fremont Boulevard.

Mason worker falls to his death

Riverview, FL - The 49-year-old Riverview man slipped off a scaffold at a jobsite in Plant City. A mason worker fell to his death Friday morning while doing a job in a Plant City subdivision, and Hillsborough sheriff's officials are awaiting the results of an autopsy to determine whether a medical problem prompted the 49-year-old man to fall from a scaffold. Daniel Edward Wiggins, of 12301 Spotswood Drive in Riverview, was taking measurements while walking on a scaffold about 5 feet off the ground. It was 7:43 a.m., and Wiggins was part of an Ace Masonry crew working in the Swiss Creek subdivision. A foreman with Ace Masonry saw Wiggins walk off the scaffolding, and Wiggins fell to the concrete floor below, said sheriff's spokeswoman Debbie Carter. Wiggins died at the scene.

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Insurance adjuster killed inspecting Wilma damage

COOPER CITY, Fla. - An insurance adjuster was killed when he fell inspecting a roof damaged by Hurricane Wilma, authorities said. Alon Arad, 56, of Bethesda, Md., died Thursday after falling about nine feet from the roof or a ladder as he inspected a home in this Fort Lauderdale suburb, the Broward County Sheriff's Office said. Arad was lying unconscious in the driveway of the home. He was taken to a hospital, where he died an hour later. He was working as an independent contractor for State Farm Insurance.


San Francisco, CA - The South San Francisco Police Department is investigating the death of an Embassy Suites employee who fell from a hotel building on Thursday, police Lt. Mike Brosnan said today. Brosnan would not release any details of the incident other than to confirm that the deceased, San Mateo resident Leila Fungi, 34, was an employee at Embassy Suites. Fungi was discovered early in the morning Thursday on the grounds of the hotel located at 250 Gateway Blvd., San Mateo County Chief Deputy Coroner Tom Marriscolo said today. "She was eight floors down from where she was supposed to be,'' Marriscolo said. Hotel staff extended condolences to Fungi's family without commenting on how she died. "We have deepest sympathies for one of our team members,'' Rudy Ortiz, general manager of the South San Francisco Embassy Suites, said today. "It's unfortunate that the situation has happened and (a) great loss to family.'' The exact cause of Fungi's death is pending an autopsy scheduled for today, Marriscolo said.

Killed in a construction accident

Ohio -- A contractor working on a home renovation was killed in a construction accident on Thursday afternoon. Ronald Brook, 60, of Amelia, was getting ready to pour a concrete footer along a private drive off Hickory Creek Drive when the machine he was riding flipped forward. Brook hit his head and was dead by the time rescue crews arrived at the home.

Former Cab Driver Warned Victim About Danger

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- One day after a female cab driver was shot, killed and stuff in the trunk of her taxi, but a former cab driver who survived an earlier shooting talked about the dangers of the job. He also talked about the victim -- a friend whom he warned against driving at night. Jeff Shelley started driving cabs in 1972, but he gave it up in 2004 -- six months after he was shot in the neck by a passenger. "I thought he was going for some cash, and he shot me in the neck with a .22," Shelley said. "I turned around, saw the gun, tried to get out, and he shot me again in the ear and blew the window out." Shelley talked about his experience one day after he found out his former co-worker and friend, Denise Manning, was killed and stuffed in the trunk of her cab. "She liked working nights for some reason, and I don't know why," Shelley told Channel 4's Melanie Lawson. "I used to tell her she ought to be safe and get a gun."

Insurance agent shot dead near his office in Newton, DA says victim slain by 'assassin'

Newton, NY - A 39-year-old insurance agent was shot to death in his car in a Newton parking garage yesterday morning, the victim of someone Middlesex District Attorney Martha Coakley said could be called an ''assassin." Edward Schiller, an employee of Aronson Insurance Agency Inc. who friends said grew up in Sudbury and lived in Framingham, was discovered at about 9:30 a.m. by a worker in his office building near the busy corner of Boylston Street and Langley Road, near the Mall at Chestnut Hill. Coakley said Schiller was shot at least once in the head at close range in what she said could be labeled an execution. He was found slumped behind the wheel, and the driver's door was open. ''It certainly does not appear random," Coakley said during a press conference at the scene.

Collapse of Restaurant Roof Kills Worker in N.J.

Union Township, NJ - An accident in Hunterdon County, New Jersey has taken the life of a construction worker. The man was killed this morning when a roof collapsed at the Grand Colonial Restaurant in mship. Sometime after 8 o'clock this morning the roof of this still-under-construction banquet hall came crashing down. (16:15 Stand up) Authorities said after the roof collapsed, one construction worker was crushed under a block of concrete. (:55) "There's wood, there's concrete -- a lot of debris and he's trapped underneath it." James Devaner -- an employee of the Central Jersey Construction Corporation was pronounced dead on the scene. "He is deceased, they're making arrangements to remove his body at this time."

Kilbuck man dies in steel plant accident

McKees Rocks, PA - A Kilbuck man died when a steel beam fell on him at a McKees Rocks steel plant. Kent Nuss, 35, died from blunt force trauma to the chest, the Allegheny County Medical Examiner's office said Friday. McKees Rocks police Officer James Samarco said the accident occurred Thursday at the MSSI steel plant on John Street.

Driver killed in train accident was Jordan man

Jordan, MN - Police have identified the driver who was killed after his semitrailer truck was hit by a train Thursday in Jordan as Scott Clyde Fahrenkamp, 35, of Jordan. Police say the railroad crossing was marked and had stop signs, but no crossing arms. Witnesses told police the driver slowed for the stop sign but then drove onto the tracks. The train pushed the semi down the tracks about 50 yards. The engineer suffered minor injuries. The truck's cab was aflame when police arrived. Passing motorists attempted a rescue, but the heat drove them back.

Bourbon dairy farmer killed in 3-vehicle crash, Tuesday morning accident under investigation

PLYMOUTH, IN -- Well-known Bourbon dairy farmer Michael "Hal" Apple, 63, was killed in a three-vehicle accident early Tuesday morning. Marshall County Sheriff's Sgt. Howard Lamaster said the incident happened about 6:50 a.m. Tuesday at the intersection of U.S. 30 and Beech Road. Lamaster said Apple, who was northbound on Beech Road, allegedly pulled out in front of a vehicle driven by James Lehman, 62, of rural Plymouth. Lehman is a former Plymouth police officer, according to Plymouth Mayor Gary Cook. Lehman was eastbound on U.S. 30, police said.

Paper mill worker crushed to death, Merritt, 52, fixing machine at time; inquiry launched

GEORGETOWN, SC - A Georgetown man was pinned and killed in machinery designed to grab and hold logs at International Paper's Sampit Lumber Mill, Georgetown County Coroner Kenny Johnson said. Two International Paper workers and one other worker have died at International Paper in Georgetown County since 2001, Johnson said. James Merritt, 52, a maintenance worker at the Sampit mill, died about 5:16 p.m. Tuesday, Johnson said.

Officials ID Worker Killed at I-40, Coors

Albuquerque, NM - State transportation officials today identified a construction worker who died when the roller he was driving fell about 35 feet from an offramp at an Interstate 40 construction site. Melvin K. Lucero, 52, of Albuquerque died about 3 a.m. Tuesday. He sustained head injuries in the fall, authorities said. Work was scheduled to resume this afternoon.

CTA worker found dead, Man dies after touching third rail of the Green Line

Chicago, IL - CTA officials and the Chicago Fire Department are investigating the death of a 47 year old CTA employee whose body was found on the Green Line tracks in the West Loop shortly after 9 a.m. Tuesday. The victim was found at the Clinton Street station, 540 W. Lake Street, across the street from CTA headquarters, said CTA spokeswoman Robyn Ziegler. Ziergler said the man worked in the CTA’s headquarters as a project manager in the technology management department, and was not assigned to work on the tracks. Ziegler said the man did report to work Tuesday around 8 a.m. The CTA does not know whether any passengers saw the incident, or whom made the initial report, Ziegler said. The person’s identity was not released pending notification of family members.

"The individual did make contact with the third rail," Ziegler said. An employee at the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office said an autopsy was scheduled for Wednesday, after press time. Green Line service was suspended both ways between California Avenue and the Clark/Lake station in the Loop until about 10 a.m., when track power was restored. The CTA provided a shuttle bus during the shutdown.

Worker dies in Avondale accident

AVONDALE, La. A shipfitter at Northrop Grumman's Avondale shipyard died at the facility when he fell into a tank filled with water. The company said in a statement yesterday, that 59-year-old Sammy Giovingo of Hammond was working on the dry dock of the West Bank yard when he fell Monday morning. Giovingo was treated at the scene and pronounced dead at West Jefferson Medical Center. The company's statement did not state the exact cause of Giovingo's death and company spokeswoman Paige Eaton could offer no comment beyond the written statement. The fatality has been reported to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which regulates workplace safety. This is the first accident to result in a death at the Avondale shipbuilder since 2003, when Mervin Charles fell 54 feet after backing his forklift into a ship.

Death blamed on high winds, Gusts send walls of storage tank crashing in on scaffolding

Deer Park, TX - High winds — gusting to more than 40 mph — were blamed for the death Tuesday of a man who fell off a scaffold while constructing a tank in Deer Park and for power failures that affected at least 30,000 customers. The man and another worker were on the inside of a storage tank in the 2600 block of Tidal Road when a part of the tank wall collapsed about 2:30 p.m., said Sgt. Dana Wolfe, Harris County sheriff's spokeswoman. The other man was injured in the fall. Both worked for a company contracted by Intercontinental Terminals Company to build the tanker. "Wind gusts collapsed a portion of the wall, which collapsed inward and broke the scaffolding on which the two workers were working," Wolfe said. One man was pronounced dead at the scene. His colleague was taken by Life Flight helicopter to an area hospital. Their names were withheld pending notification of family.

Crews work to clean up I-70 after deadly crash

Columbia,MO --A Louisiana man was killed and another man was injured in an early-morning crash Sunday that left their tractor-trailer engulfed in flames on Interstate 70, just east of Columbia. The truck, which was carrying 200 cylinders of flammable acetylene gas, apparently was traveling from Kansas City when it left the road, overturned and caught fire in the eastbound shoulder of the highway near the Route Z exit. The cause of the crash, which killed Robert Pennington, 38, of Kenner, La., is under investigation. A passenger in the truck, Ricky Ard, 33, also of Kenner, was injured in the crash and was treated at University Hospital. Boone County firefighters were called to the scene at about 6 a.m. Sunday, where they found Ard outside the cab of the burning truck. Fire crews attempted to push flames off the truck cab, where

Police Name Worker Killed At Restaurant

Baltimore, MD - Baltimore police have released the name of a restaurant worker who was shot to death in the city's Greektown neighborhood. The shooting occured about 9:30 p.m. Sunday at La Baha on South Newkirk Street. Police said Jose Mendoza, 40, was shot during an apparent robbery and died later at Bayview Medical Center. Police are looking for seven unidentified men who left the area in three vehicles.

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Worker crushed to death at northwest Harris County plant

HOUSTON A worker was killed today when he was apparently crushed in a hydraulic winch at dump-truck assembly plant in northwestern suburban Houston. Workers at the Strong Industries plant say they heard a loud boom before dawn today and found the man's body trapped in the machine. No word yet on the dead man's identity nor how he became trapped in the machine.

Autopsy results pending on worker

UNION TWP., NJ - Results from an autopsy performed on James M. Devaney, the construction worker killed Friday after a roof frame and cinder block wall collapsed at the Grand Colonial restaurant and banquet facility, will be released by the Hunterdon County Prosecutor's Office, said Steve Diamond, the county medical examiner. On Monday Prosecutor J. Patrick Barnes said he hadn't reviewed the autopsy report yet. Barnes said he was also waiting for the results of routine toxicology tests. Devaney, 28, of Seaside Heights, N.J., was killed and three other workers injured in the collapse, which happened at an addition under construction behind the Colonial-era landmark restaurant off Route 173 in Hunterdon County -- formerly the Coach N' Paddock restaurant. Investigations by the New Jersey State Police at Perryville and officials from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration are ongoing.

Woman crushed in forklift accident

Newville, PA - The family of a Newville-area woman killed in a weekend forklift mishap was grieving and awaiting answers yesterday as local, state and federal authorities investigated her death. Cathy Tilden, 47, of Conodoguinet Mobile Estates, died just after 1 p.m. Sunday when the stand-up forklift she was driving backed into a metal grate at the Ames True Temper distribution center in Dickinson Twp., Cumberland County Coroner Michael Norris said. Tilden died from crushing injuries, he said.

Cal OSHA Investigates Worker’s Fatal Fall

Berkeley, CA -- The state Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) has launched an investigation into the fall that claimed the life of a construction worker at the new Berkeley City College Building. Robert Walton, a 58-year-old Oakland man, sustained fatal injuries when he fell four stories while working on the new community college building at 2000 Center St. Cal/OSHA spokesperson Renee Bacchini said investigators were on the scene of the Jan. 3 accident soon after the accident. Walton was rushed to Highland Hospital, where he died a week later on Jan. 10. The Alameda County Coroner’s officer attributed the cause of death to “multiple blunt force injuries.” Bacchini said Walton was applying stucco to the surface of the building from a scaffolding at the time of the accident. “He fell from four stories up,” she said. Walton was an employee of J&J Acoustics, a San Jose firm.

Investigation into plane mechanic's death continues

El Paso, TX - Federal aviation experts and local police today will continue to investigate how an airplane mechanic was sucked into a plane's jet engine and killed Monday in what officials said is a rare occurrence that stunned passengers and employees at El Paso International Airport. The mechanic, whose name was withheld until relatives could be notified, had been working on the plane about 9 a.m. when he was suddenly pulled into the jet engine of a Continental Airlines Boeing 737 bound for Houston. "It was a Boeing 737 and it was doing an engine run up for a maintenance problem and a person was sucked into the engine," said Roland Herwig, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration in Oklahoma City. Herwig referred further inquiries to the office of the National Transportation Safety Board in Denver. Officials would not say what kind of maintenance was being performed on the plane.

TxDOT employee killed by machinery, Veteran inspector first TxDOT fatality since 2001

Cedear Park,TX - A veteran Texas Department of Transportation worker was killed Sunday after he apparently walked into the path of a road construction machine. Sean Hayes, 49, of Cedar Park was hit about noon by a pneumatic roller at a road construction site on West Whitestone Boulevard (RM 1431) and Bagdad Road in Cedar Park, according to John Hurt, a spokesman for the department. Hayes died instantly, Hurt said.

Floor collapses, killing 1 worker, injuring 2 others

Springfield, MA - A construction worker was killed and another was seriously injured when the top floor of a dilapidated building they were demolishing collapsed yesterday afternoon. A mechanic from the neighboring S&L Automotive Service shop received minor injuries when beams, bricks and debris pelted the building, caving in the roof and damaging two outside walls, said Deputy Fire Chief W. Timothy Nelson. Both employees of Associated Building Wreckers Inc. were taken to Baystate Medical Center in Springfield after the 1 p.m. collapse. Herbert Marcollier, 42, died at the hospital and Aaron Law, 30, was admitted with serious injuries, Fire Chief David A. LaFond said.

Pawn shop owner shot to death

Queens, NY - It is unclear whether a pawn shop shooting was a robbery or some kind of dispute. What is clear is the a pawn shop worker is dead -- shot in the head. And now police are looking for a killer. It happened on Atlantic Avenue in the Ozone Park section of Queens. Police say he had been shot once in the face. He died before the ambulance could make it to Jamaica Hospital. Carlos Bustamante, eyewitness: "He said he was in the store when he heard a shot and he just stood there." Law enforcement sources say the victim is a 40-year-old man who owned this pawn shop specializing in jewelry. Earlier Thursday night, someone walked into the store and ended up shooting the victim. Resident: "Everybody knows Ritchie around here." Area residents say the victim is well known in this community. They say he was a man who was generous with his time and money.

Coroner's office investigating man's death in work accident

CARLISLE, PA — A Carlisle man who was involved in an industrial accident Thursday afternoon died. According to the Cumberland County Coroner's office, Leroy Jumper, 51, died around 4:30 p.m. at Frog Switch and Manufacturing on East High Street when a steel beam fell on him. The beam was attached to a cable that Jumper was adjusting. Todd C. Eckenrode, chief deputy coroner, said Jumper died as a result of crushing injuries. The coroner's office is continuing the investigation and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has been notified. This is the second death this week that involved a work-related accident in Cumberland County. Cathy Tilden, 47, Newville, died Sunday when the stand-up forklift she was operating pinned her against a metal gate and crushed her at the True Temper warehouse in Dickinson Township.

Worker killed when radio tower falls

LAGUNA VISTA, Texas A 33-year-old man working on a state transportation department radio tower in South Texas is dead after the tower fell on him. Cameron County sheriff's officials say Candelario Duque (DOO'-kay) worked for Western Towers of San Angelo. They say the San Angelo man was working on replacing the tower on State Highway 100, near Laguna Vista, when the tower fell yesterday afternoon. Investigators still haven't determined what caused the accident. But the National Weather Service reported sustained winds of 25 to 30 miles per hour with gusts of 40 to 45 miles per hour in the area.

Bull attack kills dairy farmer, despite son's heroism

Breese, IL - Family and friends in this tight-knit community mourned the death of a well-known dairy farmer who died from injuries he received when a bull charged and pinned him against a wall. Clinton County authorities said Matt Hilmes had just finished feeding his herd of Holsteins at the family farm east of Breese late Wednesday afternoon when the 2,000-pound bull attacked him, pinning him against a wall. "It hit him twice," said his son Brandon, 11, who was on a tractor nearby when the attack occurred. "It walked a little bit, then hit him again." Brandon Hilmes tried to save his father by driving a tractor toward the bull and using its scoop to fend off the animal.

Commercial fisherman, 56, dies in collision on Patapsco

Baltimore, MD - One man died and two others were hospitalized yesterday after a commercial fishing boat collided with a tugboat and capsized in the Patapsco River, the Coast Guard said. The three men from the 29-foot fishing boat were pulled from the 40-degree water after the accident, two of them by crews of other tugboats that were nearby, the third by a crew from the Coast Guard's Curtis Bay station, said Wayne Lake, a Coast Guard civilian duty officer. The accident happened about 2 p.m. near the Key Bridge, according to Lake, who said none of the crew aboard the tug - the Richard M. Lowry, owned by Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Co. of Staten Island, N.Y. - was injured. Vincent Lee Jordan Sr., 56, was pronounced dead at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. His son, Vincent Lee Jordan Jr., 33, was being treated at Bayview, while the other man, Dale Edward Monroe, 31, was being treated at Mercy Medical Center, Lake said.

Quartz slabs crush worker removing ice

Bronx, NY - A worker trying to break ice from quartz at a stone outlet in Queens was crushed to death yesterday when the slabs broke loose and fell on him, police said. Philip Santiago, 27, of the Bronx, died shortly after nearly 2,800 pounds of quartz - used to make kitchen countertops - toppled onto him in an outdoor lot at CaesarStone Quartz Supply on 19th Ave. in Astoria. The 10-foot-by-5-foot slabs were hoisted off Santiago, and he was rushed to Queens Hospital Center. But he died on the way, police said. The heavy slabs - which are fastened together lengthwise and stacked around the lot - came loose and fell about 5:50 p.m. Crime-scene tape surrounded an area where several slabs had tumbled down at the distribution center. A forklift stood several feet away, and blood covered the ground. nAn employee at CaesarStone hung up on a reporter last night.

Georgia trucker killed helping motorist at wreck

SCRANTON, PA - A Georgia truck driver who stopped to help a woman trapped in an overturned car has been killed after another tractor-trailer struck the car and his truck in Pennsylvania. State police say 57-year-old Robert Allen of Valdosta, Georgia, was driving south on the Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Scranton and pulled over when he saw an overturned car on the icy road shortly before midnight Monday. As Allen got out to help, a tractor-trailer driven by 55-year-old Frederick Fletcher of Chesapeake, Virginia, swerved to avoid the car but struck both the car and Allen's truck. Both trucks went down a 25-foot embankment. Allen was near the rear of his truck when it was hit. Police say he was taken to Community Medical Center in Scranton, where he was pronounced dead. Officials say Fletcher and the driver of the car, 22-year-old Amanda Schnell of Lehighton, Pennsylvania, had minor injuries.

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N.C. fisherman killed when boat capsizes off Virginia coast

Washington, NC. -- The body of a North Carolina fisherman missing Wednesday after a boat capsized was found on the beach on Assateague Island, the Coast Guard said. Two other members of the crew were rescued. The body of Ted Daniels, from Washington, N.C., was found about 11:40 a.m., the Coast Guard said. His age was not available. Daniels and two other fishermen were on the Capt. Zach, a 58-foot fishing vessel homeported in Wanchese, N.C., when it capsized as they were entering Chincoteague Inlet.

A doorman falls to death from condo downtown

Boston, MA - A doorman for the Four Seasons Place condominiums plunged to his death yesterday on a bustling boulevard across the street from the Boston Common and the Public Garden. The doorman, identified by a Four Seasons staff member as Hercilio ''Ciro" Hasse, fell from the rooftop of the 12-story luxury complex at Boylston Street and Charles Street South at about 1:30 p.m., police said. It was not clear yesterday what had caused Hasse's fall, though police initially said they do not believe foul play was involved.

Sheriff's deputy killed in crash

LANCASTER, Ohio -- A sheriff's deputy lost control of his cruiser, crashed into a utility pole and was killed while on a call to assist a police officer, the sheriff said. Ethan Collins, 29, was just the second Fairfield County deputy to die in the line of duty.

He was pronounced dead at the scene just outside Lancaster on state Route 188. With lights and siren on, Collins was headed west to Lithopolis about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday to help a police officer chasing a person believed to be carrying a knife, Sheriff Dave Phalen said.

"The Lithopolis police officer was able to get the situation under control and called off our assistance," Phalen said. "But it was already too late." Speed was a factor in the crash, said Lt. Gary Lewis, commander of the Lancaster post of the State Highway Patrol.

Collins, of Bremen, is survived by a wife, son and daughter


Brooklyn, NY -- EW YORK -- A gunman shot and killed a clerk at a clothing store in Brooklyn during a robbery attempt Tuesday afternoon, police said.

Amadou Sawou, 45, had been running Jack's Sportwear in Brownsville for the owner, who was on vacation, police said.

A gunman walked into the shop at 4:30 p.m. and fired three shots, police said.
Sawou was hit once in the chest and stumbled outside the store, where people on the street called police. He was pronounced dead on the way to Brookdale University Hospital.
Sawou had tried to stop the robbery, police said. Officers said the gunman ran before getting any cash.

Truck driver killed on I-25

Denver, CO -- A semi-truck driver was killed on I-25 this morning, when his rig collided with another carrying mail.

The Colorado State Patrol says that the 62-year-old man from Alberta, Canada was carrying a truckload of chocolate bits on I-25 north of Fort Collins. He has not yet been identified.

The driver carrying U.S. mail is Robert Griffis, 31, from Thornton. He was taken to Poudre Valley Hospital for treatment of minor injuries.

Witnesses say both trucks were traveling in the right lane of northbound I-25 when the truck driven by Griffis rolled on its side. The chocolate truck hit the trailer, splitting it open and scattering thousands of pieces of mail.

Truck driver killed after rig flips on Route 322

LEMONT, CA -- A Nescopeck man was killed Wednesday in a tractor-trailer crash along a stretch of U.S. Route 322 where local police and fire officials say they see an unusual number of crashes.

Benjamin Potter, 45, was killed near the East Branch Road overpass on Route 322 when, said State College police, the rig he was driving approached a curve in the roadway and flipped over.

Centre County Coroner Scott Sayers said Potter died of a closed head injury.

East Palo Alto man arrested in shooting death of police officer

EAST PALO ALTO, Calif. -- Authorities arrested a 23-year-old man on Sunday in the fatal shooting of a police officer who was gunned down while taking a teenager on a ride-along.

Alberto Alvarez, of East Palo Alto, was taken into custody after an intense manhunt around 6 a.m. in East Palo Alto, where the shooting took place, according the California Highway Patrol.

Officer Richard May, 38, was responding to a disturbance at the Villa Taqueria off University Avenue when the incident occurred around 5 p.m. Saturday, police said. The officer was approaching the suspect, who was walking away from the business, when the man turned around and opened fire on May, police said.


Fort Lauderdale, FL -- A tree trimmer died Thursday after the pole he was using to prune a tree hit a power line.

The 38-year-old man was working about 8:30 a.m. in the 2000 block of Intracoastal Drive when he hit the overhead line, said Division Chief Bill Banks, with Fort Lauderdale Fire-Rescue.

The man died at Broward General Medical Center.

Police did not release the man's name and his exact cause of death was unknown.

Brooklyn police officer responding to call collapses, dies

Brooklyn, NY -- A Brooklyn patrolman died from an apparent heart attack while responding to an unfounded report of a man with gun, police said Tuesday.

Officer Francis Hennessy, 35, collapsed at about 9:35 p.m. Monday after exiting a patrol car in the Flatbush section. He was pronounced dead at a hospital about two hours later.

Hennessy, who was married with two children, had joined the police force in 1997.

Colorado truck driver killed in crash with train

KINSLEY Kan. -- A Colorado man was killed Monday when the tractor-trailer he was driving was hit by a Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway train at a crossing in Edwards County, the Kansas Highway Patrol said.

Rodney K. Crum, 48, of Holly, Colo., was pronounced dead at the Edwards County Hospital and Health Care Center after the crash on a county road northeast of Kinsley. The patrol said he was not wearing a seatbelt.

Nobody on the train was hurt in the crash.

Man dies in East Dublin plant accident

East Dublin, -- After 26 years in operation, SP Newsprint suffered its first fatal accident Tuesday.

Doyle Wiggins, 58, one of the plant's original employees, died after getting caught in machinery, said Pete Labella, the plant's vice president of human resources.

"The plant is devastated," Labella said. "He's been here a long time, and he's got a lot of close friends. A lot of employees are having a hard time dealing with this."

Labella said the plant would release more details about the accident after an investigation is completed. He would only say that the plant was shut down for routine maintenance at the time of the accident, and Wiggins was caught in machinery while working on it.

The plant originally was supposed to resume operating after the maintenance, but it was shut down indefinitely following the accident. Employees were given the option of going home, and many did, Labella said. He was not sure when the plant would resume operating.

The plant had injuries before, he said, but Wiggins' death was the first fatality. SP Newsprint has won several safety awards in the past, he said.

Worker Dies In Anderson Construction Site Accident

ANDERSON TOWNSHIP, Ohio -- A contractor working on a home renovation was killed in a construction accident on Thursday afternoon.

Ronald Brook, 60, of Amelia, was getting ready to pour a concrete footer along a private drive off Hickory Creek Drive when the machine he was riding flipped forward.

Brook hit his head and was dead by the time rescue crews arrived at the home.

Taxi Driver Found Dead in Trunk of Cab

JACKSONVILLE, FL -- A homicide investigation is underway in Durkeeville following the discovery of the body of a taxi cab driver in the trunk of her cab.

The victim has been identified as 48-yr-old Denise Manning of Jacksonville.

Police found her body in the trunk of her taxi cab early Wednesday morning. Gator City Taxi says it received a distress call from the cab early Wednesday morning and called JSO.

Police say Manning was reported missing around 3:30 Wednesday morning.

Laborer falls to his death at Chicago State University

Chicago, IL -- A construction worker fell to his death Wednesday morning while working on a project at Chicago State University, police said.

The accident happened about 9 a.m. in the 9500 block of South King Drive, a police spokeswoman said. The spokeswoman Wednesday night said she did not have more details about the fall.

The man, whose name was withheld by the Cook County medical examiner's office pending family notification, was 44 years old and lived on the South Side, police said.

The man worked for the Castle Construction Corporation of Markham, said David Blanchette, spokesman for the state's Capital Development Board, which oversees state construction projects.

Okla. DOT worker killed in accident

CADDO, OK - An Oklahoma Department of Transportation worker was killed Wednesday evening when a tractor-trailer ran over him as he was flagging traffic on U.S. Highway 75, near Caddo.

According to police reports, the victim, 59-year-old Judd Faudree, was on the shoulder in a construction area when the semi, driven by 32-year-old Patrick Walker of Dallas, hit and killed him.

The trooper's report states that Mr. Faudree jumped out of the way of the oncoming truck, but the truck swerved into that lane. The man jumped back into the other lane and the truck again swerved back and hit him.

Mr. Faudree was pronounced dead at the scene of massive head injuries.

Truck driver killed in I-90 accident

EDGERTON, WI-An Illinois truck driver died when his rig left Interstate 90/39 at 5:30 a.m. Thursday in southern Dane County, the State Patrol reported.

Officials said Friday they did not know what caused Eric P. Wicks, 32, of Seneca, Ill., to lose control of the semitrailer truck.

"There was no obvious reason for the crash, no other vehicles involved, so a medical condition could be a possibility," said Sgt. Eugene Wagner of the State Patrol.

The rig was northbound when it crossed the median and the southbound lanes before rolling onto its side in the southbound ditch.

Wicks, who was wearing a seat belt, was "deceased upon arrival," according to a State Patrol news release.

Sheriff's Deputy Killed In Crash En Route To Call

A Trinity County Sheriff's deputy has been killed in a one-car accident while he was heading to a call. He leaves behind a wife and two daughters.

DPS says 42 year-old Deputy Lester Dewayne Tatum was running with lights and his siren down FM 355 south of Groveton around 7:00 p.m. last night. Trinity County Sheriff Jimmy Smith tells us Tatum lost control of his cruiser in a sharp curve and struck a tree. He died at the scene.

Sheriff Smith says he was heading to a call in the Carlisle community, and the DPS report doesn't say whether speed was a factor. Funeral arrangements for Tatum are pending.

Driver killed in I-405 tanker truck crash

BELLEVUE, WA -- The northbound lanes of Interstate 405 were shut down all day Saturday after a tanker truck turned over and its driver died.

The man's identity was not available Saturday evening.

Authorities believe the man had a heart attack, causing him to lose control of the double-tanker truck, which became separated from its fuel tanks when the vehicle jack-knifed.

The incident occurred about 11 a.m. between Interstate 90 and Coal Creek Parkway.

Trooper struck and killed by truck on highway

MONAHANS, Texas -- A trooper was struck and killed by a pickup truck while he was conducting a traffic stop on westbound Interstate 20, the Department of Public Safety said.

Billy Jack Zachary, 32, had two vehicles pulled over on the shoulder Sunday, one was parked behind his patrol vehicle and another in front of it. As he walked away from the vehicle parked behind his, Zachary was hit by a pickup truck heading west on the highway, said Cpl. Kathy Briggs.

The collision sent the trooper into the ditch and the truck went on to strike the rear of the patrol car, Briggs said.

CHP officer killed in crash while responding to call

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. -- A California Highway Patrol officer responding to a highway accident scene was killed when a car lost control and crashed into him.

Lt. Mike Walker had pulled over onto the shoulder of Highway 17 in the Santa Cruz Mountains around 10 p.m. Saturday to assist other officers and a California Department of Transportation worker, said CHP spokesman Sgt. Wayne Ziese.

Walker, 47, was setting up road flares to block off the accident scene when a 2000 Audi lost control and plowed into the back of the parked Caltrans truck, which then struck Walker, Ziese said.