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

Tuesday, January 30, 2007


Beyond Confined Space

As I mentioned in last week's farewell post (here, if you missed it), I will try to keep you up to date on places you can go to find similar information and analysis. Here's the first installment:


Workplace Health and Safety News

  • The Pump Handle is an excellent blog that covers regulatory issues. To fill some of the gap left by the termination of Confined Space, The Pump Handle has launched a new feature, Confined Space@TPH, that will keep up on workplace safety and health news.

  • Starting next week, Tammy Miser will continue the misnamed The Weekly Tollevery two weeks on its own page.

  • You should also bookmark the award-winning Hazards Magazine, run by the intrepid Rory O'Neill and friends. Hazards has health and safety news and a toolbox of indepth information about every conceivable health and safety issue.

  • The labor news service, Labourstart runs a health and safety page. If you have a webpage, you can also set up a health and safety feed (check out the right-hand column of Confined Space)

  • The CalOSHA Reporter offers a free daily news digest. Despite its name, it covers more than just California news. You read the on-line version here or subscribe to the daily e-mail.

  • For immigrant issues, you can't go wrong with Working Immigrants

  • For Workers Compensation news, check out Workers Comp Insider.

  • For general public health news and commentary (as well as excellent writing), there's no better place to go than Effect Measure.


Labor News

  • Labourstart also runs an excellent labor news service, sorted by country. US labor news is here. If you have a webpage, you can run the Labourstart newsfeed.

  • RawblogXport runs a labor news blog as well, with short excerpts for labor articles.

  • Mick Arran has resurrected Dispatch From The Trenches, a labor commentary blog, and, in honor of the demise of Confined Space, has added a feature called TrenchNews, "a round-up of some of the news stories on unions and labor issues that the MSM either buries in the Business pages or doesn’t cover at all."

Well, that should do it for now. I'll continue to keep you updated as new workplace safety resources come on line.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007


Goodbye: The Final Curtain Comes Down

As I mentioned last night, this will be my last Confined Space post. Next week I start work at the House Education and Labor Committee. If you're on line now (9:00 - 11:00 pm EST), welcome. Please use the comments all the way down at the bottom of this post (below the last song) and "refresh" occasionally to keep up to date. (Of course, some people decided to start the party early. Check out the comments under last night's post.)

Over the past four years, I’ve written more than 2,800 posts here at Confined Space. My original goal was not just to educate people about what is happening in American workplaces, but also to put workplace safety and health into a political context. You won't read in any newspapers that if the 12 deaths at Sago last year, or the 15 deaths at the BP Texas City refinery the year before had been the only workplace fatalities on those days, those would have been good days in the American workplace. More than 15 workers are killed every day on the job in this country and a worker becomes injured or ill on the job every 2.5 seconds. The overwhelming majority of deaths, injuries and illnesses could have been easily prevented had the employers simply provided a safe workplace and complied with well-recognized OSHA regulations or other safe practices.

And you'll never learn from the evening news that we have more fish and wildlife inspectors than OSHA inspectors, or that the penalties from a chemical release that kills fish is higher than a chemical release that kills a worker. Not many are aware that workers are often afraid to complain about health and safety hazards or file a complaint with OSHA. Almost no one understands that OSHA inspections are so infrequent and penalties for endangering workers are so insignificant that there is almost no disincentive for employers to break the law. Employers are almost never criminally prosecuted for killing workers even when they knew they were violating OSHA standards.

You know these things. But most Americans – including our political leaders -- don’t have a clue. And most of this nation’s newspapers and other media aren’t helping.

And there are still far too many health and safety professionals that don’t understand that to a very great extent, who lives and who dies in the workplace is determined by politics – both power relationships in the workplace, and traditional politics that determines who controls our government. What that means is that organizing unions and electing politicians who will fight against unlimited corporate control over our regulatory agencies, our workplaces and the environment are of vital importance to protecting the health and safety of American workers.

Two events inspired me to launch this blog in March 2003. Following the deaths of the Columbia astronauts in 2002, I woke up one morning realizing that while a few workers killed in a workplace accident sometimes receive enormous media attention, most workers die alone and unnoticed by anyone except their immediate families and friends. Something had to be done to ensure that these thousands aren’t dying in vain.

The second event was the repeal of the OSHA ergonomics standard by the Republican Congress and the Bush White House. That travesty of justice taught me that if we’re going to make – and sustain -- any progress on workplace safety in this country, many more people have to understand what’s happening in American workplaces, the political context in which these tragedies occur, and the need to organize on a local and national level. Or, as Michael Silverstein wrote in his recent paper discussing the future of OSHA, "political change must precede policy change.”

When I started Confined Space in March 2003, it was all about me – a way to vent, which I needed (thanks to our President and his cronies), a reason to write (or rant) -- which I enjoy (and will miss) -- and a way to keep in touch with friends and colleagues who I was afraid I’d lose track of.

But based on the mail I get from people, Confined Space became much more – a source of much-needed news about what’s happening in our workplaces and government agencies and a voice for those feeling politically frustrated. But most important – and most unexpected -- it became a way for family members and loved ones of those lost to the workplace to find meaning in the death of their loved ones, a voice for their anger and a constructive direction to fight the system that took their loved ones away. And perhaps it even provided some ideas and tools that they could use to wage their struggle.

Writing this blog became a learning experience for me as well. Not just that it forced me to keep up with what was happening in the world of workplace safety, but the Weekly Toll (thanks Tammy) and the thoughtful and angry notes and comments I received from the families and friends of those killed in the workplace, brought me closer to the human tragedies faced by thousands of American families every year. Confined Space provided a place for them to tell their stories, stories that are almost never heard in our newspapers, magazines, radio or TV. And with that came a renewed sense of meaning and inspiration -- raw energy – to challenge the low priority that the politicians and media in this country give to workplace safety and workers’ health and lives.

But at the same time, I’m tired -- bone tired – not just from lack of sleep (I didn’t have the luxury that some bloggers enjoy -- being able to blog at work), but also from writing the same sad stories – with different names and details – over and over again. More and more frequently I’ve gotten the sense that I’m repeating myself; I’m not sure I have anything new to say anymore. And maybe there isn’t really anything new to say; maybe it’s always the same basic story; only the names and dates change. And so, although it’s incredibly hard to think about leaving this behind, this is an opportunity to move beyond writing to facilitate change.

Before I go, there are a few people I need to thank. Actually, there are hundreds that I need to thank, but a few require special mention – particularly Jonathan Bennett at NYCOSH, Rory O’Neill at Hazards and Tony Oppegard for keeping me supplied with news and perspective that I might otherwise have missed. Journalists Ken Ward at the Charleston Gazette, Andrew Schneider at the Baltimore Sun, Steve Franklin at the Chicago Tribune and David Barstow at the NY Times deserve lots of credit for going the extra miles to dig out the stories behind the stories and setting a standard that every journalist should strive to live up to.

But most of all I want to thank the families -- the wives, husbands, daughters, sons, brothers, sisters, fathers and mothers of those chewed up and spit out by the system of work in this country. The courage, creativity and resolve displayed by Tammy Miser, Coit Smith, Mary Vivenzi, Irene Warnock, Misty Plante, Michelle Marts, Becky Foster, Barb Parker, Holly Shaw, Sharon Nichols, Kelly Heilert, Michelle Lewis, Robin Harpster, Adam Turem, Donna Puleio Spadaro, Patience Buck-Clarry, Melissa King, Phyllis Oliver and Betsy Shonkwiler to name just a very few who have shared their sorrow, their anger and their energy, have nourished me with the inspiration and fuel to carry on through the late nights and early mornings.

And, of course, I need to thank my wife, Jessie, and the kids (Nicole, Madeleine and William) for giving me a far longer leave of absence from many familial duties than anyone really deserves.

Finally, I'd be remiss is I didn't thank the Bush administration appointees, many Congresspersons and Senators, and scores of negligent employers for ensuring that there wasn't a single day over the past four years that I didn't have plenty to write about.

I do have one major disappointment, though – that this blog is going out childless, without issue. I had hoped for some offspring. You know, a few similarly crazy people out there who would say “Hey, this is a good idea, but he’s missing a bunch of stuff,” or “What a clutz. I can say this better,” or “He’s full of shit. Listen to me." So that when I passed on, there would be two, five, a dozen workplace safety blogs to carry on.

But don’t despair. I’ve been having conversations with people about continuing some parts of Confined Space, and Tammy will continue the Weekly Toll from another (to be announced) location. The Pump Handle will be carrying on with some of the more newsy parts of Confined Space. To the extent other blogs start picking up some of this work, I’ll announce it here and in mailings to my list. And the archives will remain as a resource.

So, has this blog had any impact on improving the conditions for workplace safety in this country? Maybe. Enough? Not nearly. Since I started this blog, the AFL-CIO has dismantled its safety and health department, OSHA has issued only one new, weak standard (under court order) and expanded its voluntary programs at the expense of enforcement. Immigrant fatalities continue to grow, coal mine fatalities more than doubled last year, the Bush administration continues to appoint political cronies and union busters to agencies entrusted with ensuring workers lives and well-being and Congressional oversight became a thing of the past -- until now. (On the other hand, when I started this blog, President Bush’s favorable ratings were in the 70’s and Republicans held both Houses of Congress. Now he’s in the low 30’s, the Dems have taken charge of Congress, and they’ve hired me.) The real test of success is how many more workplace safety activists exist today than existed four years ago.

What comes next? I know what comes next for me. But what about you? What needs to be done and how are we going to do it? Chew on that for a while.

As journalist Bill Moyers wrote in a recent must-read article in The Nation,
The eight-hour day, the minimum wage, the conservation of natural resources, free trade unions, old-age pensions, clean air and water, safe food--all these began with citizens and won the endorsement of the political class only after long struggles and bitter attacks. Democracy works when people claim it as their own.
And that goes for workplace safety as well.

In 1970, Congress passed, and President Nixon signed a radical new law promising
To assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women
In other words, a safe workplace became a right, not a privilege to be enjoyed only when a company is making a good profit. Thirty-five years later, that promise not only remains unfulfilled, but has taken several major steps backward over the past several years.

And to quote myself at the 2004 APHA Occupational Health Section Awards luncheon:
We need to make it clear that the right to a safe workplace wasn’t bestowed upon us by concerned politicians or employers who were finally convinced that “Safety Pays.” The right to a safe workplace was won only after a long and bitter fight by workers, unions and public health advocates. It was soaked in the blood of hundreds of thousands of coal miners, factory and construction workers. And the current movement to transform the agency into nothing but a coordinator of voluntary alliances is a betrayal of that promise and those lives.
Hopefully in my new job, I can help to restore the system of checks and balances that our constitution provides to make sure that our government does what it’s supposed to do.

Anyway, as I said. I’m not disappearing, just moving into a different dimension. But before going, I have a couple of favors to ask. Please stay in touch. Save my e-mail address jbarab@starpower.net. I’ll need your information and inspiration more than ever.

Do me just one more big favor: keep informed, stay angry and keep raising hell.

OK, I’m out of here. It’s your turn now. Hasta la vista, baby. Flights of angels sing me to my rest. And don't be sad. We’ll always have Paris.

-- Jordan

P.S. Like any good union meeting, this blog shouldn’t end without a song. So, everyone, let’s all join hands, click once or twice on the picture below and sing along with Pete and the Weavers. After all, when you really think about it, what force on earth is weaker than the feeble strength of one?



Obituaries

Tammy Miser: Weekly Toll

Mike Hall: AFL-CIO Now

Mick Arran: Dispatch From the Trenches

Revere: Effect Measure

Cervantes: Stayin Alive

Michael Fox: Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer

Workday Minnesota

James Governor: Monkchips

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A Son, A Father, 911 and The President

Guests at last night's State of the Union address didn't just include basketball players and Iraq war veterans. One guest -- who has the most gripping story to tell -- was ignored by the President and the media last night. His name was Ceasar Borja and he was a guest of NY Senator Hillary Rodman Clinton. Just two hour before the President began speaking, Borja received nows that his father had died.
Borja's dad, Cesar, 52, was a Filipino immigrant, a former Army paratrooper and an NYPD cop who never missed a day of work in 20 years.

He volunteered for months of 16-hour shifts at Ground Zero so he could make overtime for his wife, Eva, and their three children: Ceasar, whom he called "Kuya," the Filipino word for older brother; son Evan, 16, and daughter Nhia, 12.

He retired in 2003. He started coughing soon after. By the time he was properly diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis last fall, he could barely walk and his lungs were filled with scar tissue.

He checked into Mount Sinai Medical Center on Dec. 19. He died there at 6 p.m. last night.
Instead of returning immediately to New York, Borja decided to attend the speech.
the 21-year-old promised his family that he was going to sit in front of President Bush, exactly as planned, to bear witness to the suffering of thousands of others like his dad.

"He passed away right when I'm down here fighting for him. This is the most I've ever done for Dad," he told his mom. "Mommy, you know I'm strong, Mom. You were with him, though, right? Good. That's all that matters to me. Comfortably and no pain."

Borja was shivering as he talked on a dark sidewalk outside a Capitol Hill restaurant. Other Ground Zero victims and staffers from Sen. Hillary Clinton's office wrapped him in their arms and sat him down at an empty table. Tears started to fall.

"Dad always knew the man I could become, and I love him for that," Borja said. "Dad didn't go down without a fight, Mom. You know that."
Borja is on a mission:
“I want a meeting with the president to make the case directly about how important these health programs are,” Borja told The Associated Press.

“I want him to hear from me, how my father died a hero last night, and there are many heroes that will and are continuing to die because they’re not given the proper medical attention or not given enough help from the federal government,” said the 21-year-old college student, his voice breaking with emotion.

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What's In A Name? (Part II)

William Safire in the NY Times Magazine last Sunday has more to say about the name change at my future employer, the House Education and Labor Committee:
Who says the 110th House of Representatives, with Democrats in the majority, will be no different from the G.O.P.-dominated 109th? The names, they are a-changin’: the word Labor is back, with a capital L. In 1995, when the Republicans took over after 40 years — 14,610 interminable days — in the minority wilderness, they changed the name of the Education and Labor Committee to “the Committee on Education and the Workforce.”

Why? Because the word Labor, capitalized, was taken to be “Big Labor” — unions almost monolithically support Democrats — and here was a way to go over the union bosses’ heads. The idea was to spread the committee’s jurisdiction over the needs of all workers, especially the majority, who are not union members. (A bit of history: When President Nixon accepted George Meany’s invitation to attend the annual A.F.L.-C.I.O. convention in Bal Harbour, Fla., Meany sat the president in the third row on the platform — an unprecedented snub. Charles Colson, the White House counsel, came up with a fighting slogan afterward: “Remember Bal Harbour!”)

If Labor was to be replaced, then with what? Not workers; that word is associated with socialism (International Workers of the World (sic), or “wobblies”) and communism (in its manifesto, “Workers of the World — Unite”). But there was another term, coined in 1931, during what revisionist Republicans considered the unfairly maligned Hoover administration: workforce. Most dictionaries gave it two senses (and make it two words): “all employees collectively, or those doing work in a particular firm or industry.”

Therefore, one of the first actions in what Speaker Nancy Pelosi dubbed “the first 100 hours” of the newly Democratic House was to vote that “Clause 1(e) of Rule 10 is amended by striking ‘Committee on Education and the Workforce’ and inserting ‘Committee on Education and Labor.’ ”

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007


Moving On: Closing Up Shop

This is incredibly hard for me, but tomorrow night will be my last blog post on Confined Space. After much deliberation, I’ve decided to take a new job that makes it impossible to continue.

Starting next week, I’ll be heading to the House of Representatives Committee on Education and Labor, working on OSHA-related legislation, oversight hearings, investigations, etc. In other words, instead of just writing about what Congress and this administration needs to be doing to protect workers, I’ll hopefully be able to directly affect some of those things.

If you’re around, stop by here tomorrow (Wednesday) night to say goodbye. I’m inviting you all over to an on-line goodbye party from 9:00 to 11:00 pm EST. I’ll take some time to reflect on the past four years, and I’ll be on line, so you can use the comments at the bottom of the last post to wish me well, blast me for leaving, speculate about the future of workplace safety in this country, or predict the next American Idol winner.

And it’s BYOB. Lots of it.

See you tomorrow.

Update: You can view the wreckage of the party here, and in the comments below this entry and tomorrow's.

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Libby Asbestos Activist Dies; Residents Consider Buyout

Les Skramstad died Sunday. He was 70.

I often complain about how workplace fatalities get very little press. Every couple of weeks, Tammy and I publish the Weekly Toll, a partial list of workers killed in the workplace. But that list includes only those workers killed in traumatic accidents -- falls, trench collapses, traffic accidents, etc. It almost never includes the almost 1000 Les Skramstads who die of workplace related disease, like mesothelioma, every week.

But Les Skramstad was more than just another occupational disease fatality.
Skramstad had been diagnosed with mesothelioma _ a rare, fast-moving cancer that attacks the lining of the lungs _ about a month ago, his son said. He had several tumors in his stomach and had been previously diagnosed with asbestosis, which has been compared to a slow, constant suffocation.

He was best known as a voice for many of Libby's sickened residents. He lobbied Congress for financial relief for those who could not pay their many medical bills.

The vermiculite, used in a variety of household products, contained tremolite asbestos that was released into the air and carried home on miners' clothing. It is blamed by some health authorities for killing about 200 people and sickening one of every eight Libby residents. Skramstad worked at the mine in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Brent Skramstad said that he has also developed asbestos-related disease, as did his sister and his mother, Norita.

"Hopefully there's somebody who will take his place now," Skramstad said of his father. "Because this is something you never want to be dropped. You want people to be held accountable for it."
In 2005, the Justice Department indicted the W.R. Grace & Co. and seven of its current or former executives and department heads for conspiring to conceal information about the hazardous nature of the company’s asbestos contaminated vermiculite products, obstructing the government’s clean-up efforts, and wire fraud. Approximately 1,200 residents of Libby have been identified as suffering from some kind of asbestos-related disease and over 400 have died.

Meanwhile, the Baltimore Sun's Andrew Schneider, who originally broke the Libby story, reports that despite the tens of millions of dollars spent by the Enfironmental Protection Agency to clean up the town, there no one is sure if the town can really be cleaned up enough to be safe. Some residents are now suggesting that the EPA or Grace buy them out so that they can move to a safer location.
Talk of a buyout took hold after the EPA's inspector general said in a report last month that, because the agency has not determined the safe level of human exposure to the asbestos in Grace's vermiculite, the "EPA cannot be sure that the ongoing Libby cleanup is sufficient to prevent humans from contracting asbestos-related diseases."

The IG report also said the EPA must "fund and execute a comprehensive study to determine the effectiveness of the Libby cleanup" with special attention on the effects of asbestos exposure on children.

Paul Peronard, the EPA emergency coordinator who has been involved in the cleanup since the beginning in 1999, said, "The EPA has no plans for a mass relocation or buyout, although the concept is not off the table. Right now the judgment is the community would be better served by fixing the problem in place."

However, he added, "There is a possibility that our analytical methods are not sensitive enough to measure down low enough to say there is no risk, and with this type of asbestos we cannot say that we ultimately will know what level will be deemed acceptable."
Meanwhile, Grace, which declared bankruptcy in 2001, has been studying the costs and benefits of a buyout.

Related Stories

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Hazardous Trenches, Good Luck and Bad Journalism

Eric Moreno is an extremely lucky guy. He was running some sewer pipe down in an unshored 7-8 foot deep trench last week when it collapsed on top of him. He could only breathe because the brim of his hard hat created a small pocket of air that separated his face from the dirt.

But even a breathing pocket often isn't enough to save the life of a trench collapse victim. A cubic yard of soil weights about 2700 pounds, the weight of a mid-sized automobile. A trench collapse may contain three to five cubic feet of soil. Do the math. Even if you're only buried up to your waist, successful rescue is unlikely; you're probably going to die. I've written before about workers, like Mike Morrison and Willie Hodge who both died as a result of trench collapses, even though they were only buried up to their waists.

My beef here is with the articles about Moreno's lucky escape. Not one of them (here, here, here, and here) mentioned that there is an OSHA standard that requires trenches deeper than 5 feet to be shored.

As I've written before, it wouldn't have taken the reporter too much time to add some valuable information to this article that might have gone beyond the human interest/shit happens/what-a-lucky-guy focus. If she couldn't spend 15 minutes on the web, she might have even called OSHA for some general information about trench collapses.

And then the readers (and construction workers) would have known that:

a) This tragedy was preventable
b) The employer was probably breaking the law.
c) Trench collapses are not to be taken lightly; most workers don't come out alive.

But Moreno's a tough guy:

Despite what was clearly a traumatic experience, Moreno said he is not afraid to continue working, and intends to return to work next week.

Moreno works for Gregg Electric Inc. of Ontario, a subcontractor for Oltmans Construction Co. of Whittier, a general contractor.

"I don't think I'd hesitate to get right back in," Moreno said. "I don't think I have any fears about that."

But if he's being sent down into unprotected 8-foot deep trenches, maybe he should have some fears. Maybe he and others working in unsafe workplaces should have been trained about the hazards of trenches and the laws that are meant to control those hazards.

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Monday, January 22, 2007


Nothing New About Trench Collapses

Check out the Weekly Toll below and you'll find a familiar entry at the top: a worker crushed to death in a trench collapse. But how could employers know that a trench would collapse? OSHA's trenching standard for starters.

But Dr. Michael Silverstein also reminds us in his paper, OSHA At 35, the the hazards of trenching -- and how to prevent trenching casualties -- were well known even before OSHA issued its standard -- like somewhere around 2300 years before OSHA. Just ask Heroditus.
All the other nations, therefore, except the Phoenicians, had double labour; for the sides of the trench fell in continually, as could not but happen, since they made the width no greater at the top than it was required to be at the bottom. But the Phoenicians showed in this the skill which they are wont to exhibit in all their undertakings. For in the portion of the work which was allotted to them they began by making the trench at the top twice as wide as the prescribed measure, and then as they dug downwards approached the sides nearer and nearer together, so that when they reached the bottom their part of the work was of the same width as the rest.

-- The Histories of Herodotus, The Persian Wars,
Book 7 Polymnia, c. 484 - 425 BC

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Chilling Reading

Julie Ferguson at Workers Comp Insider has a very nice piece on our Weekly Toll:
Every other week, our blog neighbor Tammy at Confined Space compiles a list of news stories about workers who have lost their lives at work. We've linked to it before. Despite its length, it's only a partial list at best- whatever manages to turn up in the search engines. The roster makes for some chilling reading. No matter how many times I've read these lists before, I am almost always jarred to see how many deaths occurred in my state - sometimes, just a town or two away. I am also struck by how pedestrian the circumstances sound - on a golf course, in a restaurant, at a market, on a farm. I guess it's the human tendency to think these things occur in far away places, at different kinds of work sites.

***

In story after story, the reports from co-workers are heart-wrenching - witnesses to the carnage, some after having frantically fought to save a colleague. It must be terrible to have to return to a job after having witnessed a beloved coworker die. It must be a heavy burden for coworkers and supervisors, and should they actually bear some negligence in the events, it could be soul crushing. Indeed, a year or two ago we noted the deaths of roofing workers on a construction site in Florida. There had been numerous safety violations, and in following up to see the criminal disposition, we learned the owner of the contracting company had taken his own life - no doubt, the horrible events played a role in his death, too. He and others paid a steep price for whatever corners were cut in shortchanging safety.

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Sunday, January 21, 2007


To Sit Or Not To Sit....

It hadn't really occurred to me until I read this article, but cashiers at the little grocery store across from our apartment in Paris last Christmas did something almost unheard of in American grocery stores: They sat down.

The question of why American grocery store workers usually stand, rather than sit, was the subject of a Washington Post column today by Marc Fischer who tells the story of a customer, Deana Jordan Sullivan, who went out and bought stools for Safeway checkers to sit on.

Safeway officals said "Thanks, but no thanks."
"We do appreciate the customer's thoughtfulness and generosity," he says. "But sitting on a chair could potentially expose employees to injury. Part of their job requires them to lift heavy objects -- laundry detergent, frozen or fresh turkeys, cat or dog food. Their checkstands are designed to be conducive to standing."

Actually, although you wouldn't think the seating of supermarket cashiers would be an earth-splitting issue, the planet is indeed divided over this: In most European countries and in Australia, grocery checkout clerks routinely do their job perched on stools. In the United States, the tradition has been that they stand all day. And it turns out that this has more to do with image and notions of customer service than with worker health.

The British government's occupational health department issued guidelines in 2005 strongly recommending that supermarket cashiers be given sit-stand stools so clerks could sit when not lifting those heavy items. "A seat should be provided enabling operators to have a choice," the British study concluded.

A report by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration says that thousands of grocery store workers are injured each year by repetitive motions and awkward posture while scanning items and "standing for most of the shift." But Americans take a milder approach to solving the problem. OSHA recommends using anti-fatigue floor mats, which Safeway does provide.

The feds add only that grocery stores should "consider using checkstands designed with an adjustable sit-stand" stool.

Muckle says Safeway's checkstands are not designed to permit stools. Anyway, "culturally, I don't know of any American supermarket where checkers sit down," he says. "That is prevalent in Europe, but in our culture, if people saw that, a lot of people would wonder, 'Are these people really working?' "
Yes, traditional culture is always a good reason to keep subjecting workers to workplace health and safety problems.

Fischer notes, however, that the Safeway workers union, the United Food and Commercial Workers, aren't advocating for stools either.
Interestingly, the union that represents Safeway checkers is pretty much in accord with the company. "Safeway designs checkstands to be as ergonomically beneficial as possible," says union spokeswoman Jill Cashen. "Sitting may actually make the work more difficult."
The cashiers seemed perplexed, but not too upset about the prospect of sitting, however.
At her Safeway, Sullivan found the cashiers to be grateful but a bit wary when she delivered the stools. "They looked at me like I was a crazy white woman," she says, "and that's a reasonable reaction. It sounds like I'm obsessed with this, but I'm really not: I'm a busy working mom with two kids, but I just thought this was stupid. I didn't want to just whine about it, so I did something."

Sullivan, an executive at Discovery Networks, isn't done rocking the boat. She's rallying support from neighborhood online bulletin boards. And even though her stools remain in storage, she's found herself shopping at the Safeway more often: "Ironically, it's making me more loyal to the store and to the people who work there."

Cashiers at the store told me they weren't allowed to talk about the stools. But they smiled broadly at the mention of the seats and the woman who donated them. "Tell her to come in and see us," one clerk said.

Another added: "We'll be here -- standing right here."


Update: Hazards Magazine has much more on the hazards of standing.

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Weekly Toll: Death In The American Workplace

A partial list of workers killed in American workplaces over the last several weeks.

Worker dies after trench collapses


Greenwich, CT - A 59-year-old groundskeeper died yesterday afternoon following a trench collapse at a northwest Greenwich country club. "Employees of Tamarack Country Club were working on a drainage pipe and part of the trench collapsed on two of the employees," police Lt. James Heavey said. One worker was able to free himself from under the pile of dirt and went to help the second man along with other employees on the job site, authorities said. Police, firefighters and paramedics arrived at the scene shortly after 1 p.m. and found workers performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation on the injured groundskeeper. Paramedics took the man to Greenwich Hospital, where he died, Heavey said.


Worker dies after five-story fall in Roxbury

Boston, MA -- A worker died today after falling five stories at a construction site in Roxbury this morning, according to police and an official from the worker's company. The man, whose name was not released, was rushed to Boston Medical Center in critical condition. He later died, an official from the worker's company said this afternoon. The man fell at about 11:20 a.m. Police are currently investigating at the scene near the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard. Officials from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration are also at the construction site.


Four arrested in death of Lawton cab driver

LAWTON, Okla. - Lawton police say four teenagers are in custody in the weekend shooting death of a cab driver. Officers say 19-year-old Delarenta Burton was arrested for murder in the death of John Thomas Lamb. Officers arrested 19-year-old Elijah Davis, 18-year-old Caprisha Davis and 19-year-old Donald Hood as material witnesses. Police Lieutenant William Grimes says Lamb was found dead in his cab at an apartment complex early Saturday with a gunshot wound to the back of his head. Investigators believe Burton called for the cab then killed Lamb and stole his wallet. Grimes says security video led police to an apartment at the complex where they found Lamb's wallet.


All lanes open on I-64 after deadly crash

All lanes are now open on Interstate 64 remains in York County after a deadly crash that claimed the life of a truck driver. Virginia State Police say it happened around midnight near the Busch Gardens exit.

The truck, which was hauling produce, flipped over, blocking the lanes and killing the driver. State police have the lanes blocked while they reconstruct the accident to try and figure out what happened. Investigators say the truck driver was trying to avoid a construction vehicle when he crashed.


Trucker Killed In Unusual I-65 Crash

INDIANAPOLIS, IN -- A truck driver was killed in an unusual crash, according to police, on Interstate 65 downtown Thursday morning that backed up traffic for several miles. The crash happened after 7 a.m. when the driver of a tractor-trailer that was carrying a load of steel pipes stopped abruptly in the northbound lanes just north of Raymond Street. When the trailer stopped, the load shifted, sending the pipes crashing through the back of the cab and killing the driver, James Surrena, 38, of Lorain, Ohio. Investigators said the load was not properly secured. Traffic was backed up for at least three miles as workers cleaned up the crash site.


Workers killed on rails were loyal family men

Woburn, MA - Christopher Macaulay and James Zipps loved working on the railroad, and they never considered any other career s , friends and family said yesterday. Macaulay was drawn to trains at an early age -- his father was an Amtrak conductor -- said Michael Blakemore, who described himself as Macaulay's best friend. Zipps joined the railroad at 21, following in the footsteps of several childhood friends, said his brother, Richard Zipps. Macaulay, 30, of Brentwood, N.H., and Zipps, 54, of Lowell, were killed Tuesday afternoon when a commuter train barreled into their maintenance vehicle parked on MBTA tracks in Woburn. While investigators yesterday continued to sort out the events leading to the deaths, friends and coworkers visited the mourning families to offer condolences.


Warsaw ‘cab guy’ killed in car crash

Warsaw, IN - A Warsaw cabdriver who died in a one-car car crash late Tuesday was a hard-working man whose grizzly-like appearance belied a tender heart, according to a longtime friend. Roger L. Calvert, 49, was driving a 1996 Chrysler van southeast on North Lake Street near Fox Farm Road on the west edge of Warsaw about 11 p.m. when he drove off the northeast edge of the road, Kosciusko County police said. The van traveled over two small parking lots before it crashed through a fence and struck several propane tanks at AmeriGas, located along North Lake Street.


Construction Worker Killed in Fort Valley

Fort Valley, GA - A construction worker was killed in Fort Valley during an accident at the job site. The man was working for Garrison Construction near Highway 49 North in Fort Valley when police say there was an accident involving a backhoe. The accident happened this morning after 7:00 am. The victim was taken to Peach Regional Hospital where he was pronounced dead. The man has not yet been identified because police are trying to notify his family. The driver of the backhoe has submitted to a blood test and at this time no charges have been filed.


Two Arrested In Killing Of Tenn. Trooper

Nashville, TN - Officer Killed After Traffic Stop; Suspects Arrested At Hotel Near Nashville. State officials said Sunday they had arrested two people they believed were responsible for the killing of a state trooper who was shot during a traffic stop in western Tennessee. The 24-year-old trooper pulled over two men and was trying to get them out of the vehicle Saturday night when he was shot twice, according to footage from the patrol car's video camera. At least one bullet struck him in the head, said Mike Browning, a Department of Safety spokesman. On Sunday, two men were “arrested without incident” at a hotel near downtown Nashville, said Tennessee Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Jennifer Johnson. TBI director Mark Gwin said “after interviewing the two men we feel confident we have the two people in custody that murdered the state trooper.” Hunters found Trooper Calvin Jenks' body beside his patrol car near the intersection of state highways 14 and 54, Browning said.


Tractor accident kills Union Co. man

LIBERTY, Ind. — A Union County man was killed Saturday in a farm tractor accident. Joe Thibaut, 38, of Industrial Park Road, was dead at the scene after he was run over by a large, dual-wheel tractor, Union County Coroner Bill Havens said. The accident occurred around 6 p.m. on a farm at 5420 E. State Road 44, Havens said. Thibaut and farmer Steve Posco were trying to jump start a Case Agri King tractor using another vehicle, Havens said. When the tractor started, it lunged forward, knocking Thibaut underneath the rear wheels, Havens said. Thibaut died from trauma to the chest and head, Havens said. Union County Deputy Dale Dishmond said the accident remains under investigation.



Fallen officer honored

BONHAM, TX — Silence and sobs spoke volumes Sunday night around the Fannin County Sheriff’s Office as people clung to each other for support. They were there to honor a fallen officer, Fannin County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Rahamy Mitchell. Fannin County Deputy Rahamy Mitchell, 38, died early Sunday in the line of duty. Mr. Mitchell and other deputies responded to a 1:15 a.m. call for help from Leonard police regarding a disturbance in progress. Mr. Mitchell was “going code,” which is a word used to describe in a hurry, traveling on State Highway 11. He never made it to Leonard.


McKinney pilot killed in plane crash

Batesville, Ark. - Independence County Sheriff's Office officials, of Batesville, Ark., confirmed that a McKinney husband, father and pilot was one of two Texas men who died in a plane crash last Thursday. Capt. Bill Lindsey, of the ICSO, confirmed that Craig Meyer, 26, of McKinney, and Joel Diffie, 40, of Terrell, were found around 1 p.m. Friday in the wreckage of a plane crash a mile east of the Batesville Regional Airport. Their plane, a Cessna 182-R operated by Barr Air Patrol LLC of Mesquite, which conducts aerial inspections of oil pipelines for Exxon-Mobil, was reported missing Thursday afternoon after it left Joliet, Ill., headed for Beaumont. The last contact with the plane occurred in Ripley County, Mo. The cause of the crash is still under investigation by the ICSO and the National Transportation Safety Board.


Family mourns loss of ferry worker

GRAFTON, IL -- A city is mourning the loss of one of its own, killed on the Grafton Ferry two days ago. Raymond Eugene "Gene" Ready, 62, died on Saturday afternoon doing his job. Ready died from injuries he suffered when a sport utility vehicle leaving the ferry struck and killed him. Ready died doing what he loved. "He loved working and he loved being around people," Lori Crowe, Ready’s stepdaughter, said. Authorities were notified at about 4:34 p.m. that a pedestrian had been hit by a Land Rover Range Rover deboarding the ferry. The Jersey County Coroner’s Office pronounced Ready dead at the scene at 4:45 p.m. The Jersey County Sheriff’s Department, the Grafton Police Department, Jersey County Ambulance, QEM Fire and Rescue, Illinois State Police, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Coast Guard responded to the scene.


Employee found dead at restaurant

CLINTON, S.C. Police are questioning someone today in the death of a worker whose body was found in a Burger King restaurant. Clinton Public Safety director John Thomas says 27-year-old Richard Allen Wideman of Laurens was found this morning lying on the floor in the back of the restaurant. Wideman had been shot three times and a had a knife wound across his throat. Thomas would say only that investigators are interviewing a (quote) "person of interest." Thomas says Wideman may have known his assailant. There was no evidence of a break-in.


Employee Of Supplier Transporting Hydrogen Killed in Explosion at Muskingum River Plant

COLUMBUS, Ohio, -- An explosion this morning at American Electric Power's Muskingum River power plant killed an employee of a supplier delivering hydrogen to the plant. The identity of the victim, who worked for General Hydrogen, is not available at this time. The cause of the 9:20 a.m. explosion is unknown and under investigation, but the plant boilers were not involved, and the explosion was outside the walls of the plant. The plant has five generating units. Four of the units are still operational. Unit 5 is offline pending the investigation of the explosion. The plant is located near Beverly, Ohio. Nine AEP employees were transported to five local hospitals for evaluation and treatment of injuries. None of the injuries is life threatening.


Fellow officers mourn loss of friend

PATERSON, NJ -- The Franklin family, well-known for their contributions and sacrifices to this city, made the ultimate one early Sunday morning; their son, Tyron D. Franklin, was killed in a robbery attempt just a week shy of his 24th birthday. Franklin's death had an impact on many lives in Paterson -- first and foremost those of his family and the 16-month-old son he left behind. But the city's uniformed services were also hit hard: both the police department Franklin served as a rookie patrolman and the fire department his father, Larry Franklin, retired from as the first black captain in the department's history.


Probe Underway at Georgia Plant

DALTON, Ga. -- Dalton firefighters on Monday continued to extinguish small pockets of fire, more than 48 hours after the start of a blaze that killed an employee and gutted much of a business here. Dalton Fire Chief Barry Gober said investigators likely would begin combing through rubble today at Columbia Recycling Corp. at 1001 Chattanooga Ave. "In my 28 years with the fire department, this is a top 10 major loss," he said. "In scope, size and scale, it's a major loss." Leonel Delgado, 22, who was working at the textile waste recycling firm when the fire broke out early Saturday, died of smoke inhalation, Whitfield County Coroner Bobbie Dixon said.



Market's clerk shot in head, Victim in attempted robbery in North Side stabilized after surgery

Richmond, VA - An employee at Hanes Market & Deli in Richmond's North Side was shot in the head last night during a robbery attempt after another store worker struggled with the gunman, Richmond police said. Medics rushed the victim to VCU Medical Center after the 8:41 p.m. shooting inside the store at 3008 Hanes Ave, at the corner of West Brookland Park Boulevard. At the scene, shortly after the shooting, Richmond police supervisor Capt. Michael Shamus said the victim's wound appeared to be life-threatening. Late last night, Shamus reported the victim was out of surgery and stabilized. "Very fortunate," Shamus said.


City Employee Killed In Ice Storm

A 25-year-old Houston city employee was killed when he was hit by a car while helping guide traffic around another traffic accident.


Delta man dies in mine accident

SOMERSET, CO — A Delta coal miner died in an accident Saturday in the Elk Creek Mine near Somerset, according to Delta County Coroner Chalmer Swain. Swain identified the victim as 26-year-old Jeremy Garcia. Jim Cooper, executive vice president of Oxbow Mining, the owner of the Elk Creek Mine, said he had spent much of the weekend with Garcia’s family. He was married and had two young children, Cooper said. Garcia had 2 1/2 years of experience as an underground miner and had worked at the Elk Creek Mine since September as a utility man on the continuous miner section, Cooper said. The accident occurred about 12:30 p.m. when Garcia went to an area where supplies are stored to get some wire screen that is used for roof support to keep small materials from falling on miners, Cooper said. According to a press release from Oxbow, when Garcia cut the metal band securing the screen material to the mine wall to get a portion of it, the whole bundle fell on him. “When the miner cut the metal band holding the bundle of screen together, it released outward striking him,” a press release from Oxbow stated.


Guard dies at Deseret Depot


UT - A 26-year employee of Deseret Chemical Depot collapsed and died Sunday at noon in the facility's parking lot. Terry Stonebreaker, 56, of Lehi worked at the depot as a security guard. He had just finished his shift when he collapsed. Emergency personnel were called in and he was taken to Mountain West Medical Center where he was pronounced dead. Stonebreaker leaves behind a wife and three children. Alaine Southworth, spokeswoman for the depot, said Mr. Stonebreaker suffered from an undisclosed medical condition.


Worker Dies At Bonaventure Country Club

BONAVENTURE, FL - A worker at the Bonaventure Country Club died after the tractor he was driving ran into a lake at the golf course. The landscaping contractor was mowing the lawn, when the tractor he was using tipped over, dumping him into the water. The Broward Sheriff’s Office is investigating the incident. They don’t know how long the victim had been in the water before other workers at the golf course found him inside the lake. Paramedics transported him to Broward General Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. The victim’s name has not been released. The golf course is located at 200 Bonaventure Blvd.


Remembering the life of Officer Fumiatti

New Haven, CT - Officer Robert Fumiatti grew up in West Haven. His father was also in law enforcement as a detective on the New Haven police department. Fumiatti graduated from West Haven high school in the late 80's. He was a hockey player on the varsity squad. That love for the ice stayed with him as an adult he coached the boys hockey team for Amity high school. His positive spirit is remarkable considering what he's been through. For the last five years officer Fumiatti's life was full of challenges. In June of 2002 Fumiatti was shot in the line of duty. A drug raid in New Haven turned violent, a suspected drug dealer shot the officer in the face and neck. With prayers and medical technology Fumiatti fought back. Spending months in recovery enduring a long battle both physically and mentally. One of the bullets forever lodged in his brain, a pacemaker monitoring his heart.


Fallen Indiana Firefighter Smothered

Forte Wayne, IN - Upland volunteer firefighter Sidney Hall died after being deprived of oxygen while trapped inside a burning house last week, the Allen County coroner announced Tuesday. Hall, 52, died following a Wednesday house fire at 7056 E. 100S. He fell through a floor and was trapped, perhaps for as long as 20 minutes, before being rescued. He died Thursday at Parkview Hospital, Fort Wayne, where he was flown following the fire. Dick Alfeld, the chief investigator for the Allen County coroner's office, said the official cause of Hall's death was hypoxia and asphyxiation due to position. "Basically, he couldn't breathe because he had pressure on his chest," Alfeld said. "It was an accident."


Employee fatally shot outside Mount Pleasant newspaper office

MOUNT PLEASANT, MI — A 30-year-old newspaper advertising representative was shot to death Tuesday in a parking lot outside the Morning Sun offices after police said she was rammed and flipped over in her vehicle. Police said they later arrested Thomas Daniel Babb, 37, in the death of his wife, Mary Lynn Babb, after he drove into a ditch near Evart in Osceola County. Police said the victim had a personal protection order against her estranged husband. Authorities said they believe Thomas Babb was waiting outside the Morning Sun offices about 4:30 p.m. when his wife drove her sport utility vehicle into the parking lot, the Mount Pleasant newspaper reported. Witnesses told police the suspect then rammed Mary Babb's SUV with his pickup truck, pushing her vehicle across the parking lot and causing it to roll over onto its top.


Driver killed in tractor-trailer crash

Joplin, MO - Edward F. McMurray, 67, of El Dorado Springs died when his tractor-trailer cab went off the road and caught fire Monday in Newton County, the Missouri Highway Patrol said. His southbound 1997 Kenworth reportedly went into a median between two bridges, vaulted into a creek bed and caught fire. The crash was reported after 1:15 p.m. on U.S. 71, five miles south of Joplin.


Family of city worker killed on the job to file suit

Houston, TX- The family of a City of Houston worker killed during Wednesday’s bad weather has hired an attorney and plans to file suit. The accident happened on Highway 59 at San Jacinto River in north Harris County. Police say Jerry Hines was operating a sand truck when he and his partner spotted an accident. Hines attempted to direct traffic around the accident when another came along and hit him, sending him over the San Jacinto River Bridge. Hines had worked for the city for 14 months. He leaves behind a wife and one-month-old baby.


NC officer dies during foot pursuit

HOPE MILLS, N.C. -- A North Carolina police sergeant died Thursday after collapsing while chasing a suspect. Authorities say Sergeant James Keith Hardin, 34, was running along US 301 at the time with a K9 and another officer. According to the Cumberland County Sheriff’s watch commander, suspect Ricky Allen Wilson, Jr., was captured on Thursday at 5:25 p.m. He was wanted on a misdemeanor charge of unauthorized use of motor vehicle. He’s now also charged with felony speeding to elude arrest. Hardin, who had been promoted from corporal to sergeant in July, is survived by his wife, Shelly, and two children.


Worker found shot to death at car dealership

North Lawrence, NY - The day after one of the top salesmen at a North Lawrence car dealership was shot dead, detectives Friday said they had no motive or suspect in the killing. Nassau police said Collin Thomas, 27, of Jamaica, Queens, was shot once in the back about 8:50 p.m. Thursday, shortly before he was to help close Universal Auto World on Burnside Avenue. Investigators combed the site for clues Friday, cordoning off the entire block with tape and allowing canine units to sniff the fleet of pre-owned luxury cars and sport utility vehicles. "At this point in time, our investigation is in its infancy stages," said Det. Lt. Michael Fleming, commander of the homicide squad, who said relatives and friend of Thomas were interviewed Friday. "We do know he was shot once in the back. That was a fatal shot."


Two killed in fiery Van Nuys plane crash

NORTH HILLS, CA - Two pilots died Friday in a ball of flames when their corporate jet crashed after taking off from Van Nuys Airport, authorities said. Witnesses watched in horror as the twin-engine Cessna Citation "wobbled" before banking away from homes and plummeting into a grassy lot north of the airport just before 11 a.m. Some saw a baggage door open during takeoff. Others saw a man jump out of the plane just before it crashed.


Man Killed by Forklift To Be 'Deeply Missed'

LAKELAND, FL - Roy Eugene Davis had put in nearly 30 years at Central Maintenance & Welding Inc. before he retired on New Year's Eve. The 64-year-old Lithia man returned to work Tuesday, on a part-time basis, to assist in a project at Mosaic's New Wales plant on State Road 640. Davis, the nighttime safety coordinator on the project, was hit and killed by a forklift carrying a bucket about 6:45 p.m. Tuesday, the Polk County Sheriff's Office said.


Worker killed in fall at REP, Man slipped off ledge while cleaning at mill

LORAIN, OH — A 35-year-old father of twin girls fell 120 feet to his death Friday morning in an industrial accident at a Lorain steel mill. Jose M. Diaz was working as a contract cleaner at Republic Engineered Products, 1807 E. 28th St., when he slipped off a narrow ledge and fell, according to a police report. Diaz was an employee of Superior Environmental Solutions, a Cincinnati company hired to provide cleaning services throughout the massive complex formerly known as USS/Kobe Steel Co.


Two more Burger King workers killed months after Lindenhurst murder

CHICAGO, IL -- Pam Branka would often talk about the recent murder of an employee at a Burger King in Lindenhurst, but she never believed the same fate could befall her at the Burger King where she worked for 15 years in a small northeast Illinois community, her husband said. The 46-year-old mother of one and another employee of the Burger King in Momence, about 50 miles south of Chicago, were found dead inside the fast-food restaurant early Saturday, Kankakee County Coroner Robert Gessner said. He identified the other victim as Paul Jones, 49, of Donovan.


Two W.Va. Miners Killed At Coal Mine

McDowell County, WV - Two miners (James D. Thomas, 48, of North Tazewell, Va., and utilityman Pete Poindexter, 33, of Rock) are dead after another tragedy at a West Virginia coal mine. It happened at the Brooks Run Mining's Cucumber Mine in McDowell County, W.Va. The news came just weeks after the nation remembered the one year anniversary of the Sago Mine disaster. The accident marked the first mining deaths of 2007. Officials said the miners were trapped and killed around 10:30 a.m. Saturday, while working to remove pillars of coal. Investigators are still working to determine whether it was one of the pillars or the roof that collapsed. Local lawmakers said it's eerily tragic news so soon after the governor's State of the State address, where mine safety was a key issue. "No matter what, it's a horrible tragedy but if we find that it's something that could have been prevented, then maybe we can act quickly and make sure that no other families have to go through it in the future," said Majority Leader Joe DeLong (D).


Death of nurse at hospital being probed

PARAMUS, NJ -- Authorities were investigating the death of a Bergen Regional Medical Center employee who died on the job early Saturday, police said. Dennis Bombardier, 33, a head nurse at the hospital, was found in his office and in "medical distress" by another employee around 4:30 a.m., Bergen County Police Capt. Kevin Hartnett said. The Mahwah resident was taken to the hospital emergency room where he died three hours later, Hartnett said. The cause of death is pending the completion of an autopsy.


Paramedic dies after Boone wreck

Boone, WV - A 30-year paramedic died in a Charleston hospital Sunday after being injured in a head-on collision Saturday in Boone County. Tennille Annette Davis, 30, of Belle died at CAMC General Hospital, where she underwent surgery Saturday. She was airlifted to the hospital after being extricated from her pickup truck, said David Kieffer, a captain with the Kanawha County Ambulance Authority. Davis was en route to teach an Emergency Medical Technician class in Boone County when the accident occurred at about 9:30 Saturday on W.Va. 3 in Racine. An employee of the Kanawha County Ambulance Authority since 1999, Davis had reached the highest skill level — a critical care transport paramedic — and was a field training officer


Man killed when tractor flips

Boyd Lake, CO - A 60-year-old Larimer County farmer was killed in a freak accident this morning when the tractor he was using to pull a pickup from deep snow overturned and crushed him. Larimer County sheriff's spokesman Don Nadow said the man, whose name hasn't been released, was going goose hunting with two other men when their pickup became stuck in a field northeast of Boyd Lake.


Female cab driver shot to death in La Marque

LA MARQUE, TX — Police are investigating the shooting of a taxi driver who they believe was killed by the last person she gave a ride to. A passing motorist found Raneshia Lyshaun Kelly, 28, of Hitchcock, bleeding to death in her taxi along the northbound Interstate 45 feeder road near Century Boulevard about 3 a.m. Sunday. The motorist had pulled over to check on the driver after she saw the maroon taxi van weave on the road, go across the grass median and hit the I-45 guardrail. Kelly was dead by the time police and EMS workers arrived.


Clerk killed in robbery at Forest Heights 7-11

Forest Heights, MD - A clerk at the 7-11 on Livingston Road in Forest Heights was killed Friday evening during a robbery that police spokesman Cpl. Steve Pacheco said showed a ‘‘total disregard for everything.” An unidentified suspect armed with a shotgun entered the 7-11 sometime before 9 p.m. Friday and demanded money from store employee Bekurestsion K. Gebreamlak, who was behind the counter. During the course of the robbery, the suspect shot 57-year-old Gebreamlak in the upper body, before fleeing.


Grinnell Medical Center Worker Dies

Grinnell, IA - A 42-year old worker at Grinnell Regional Medical Center died Monday. The hospital says Randy Criswell was using a lawn tractor with a snow blade to remove snow from the one-story helipad. The machine cleared the five-foot safety net and landed on the ground, more than 17-feet below. Officials say further details about how it happened aren't known at this point. Criswell had major head and chest injuries. An autopsy will be performed Tuesday.


Two Idaho Statesman Newspaper Carriers Killed

Canyon County, Idaho -- The Idaho Statesman is mourning the tragic loss of two of their newspaper carriers. Gene and Darlene Sell died in an early morning accident in rural Canyon County while delivering papers along their regular daily route. Just before 4 a.m. Monday, Cindy Hess woke up to a loud noise outside her bedroom window. "Sounded like thunder," she said. That thunder was the sound of a deadly accident. Idaho State Police say a pickup truck ran a stop sign at Hollow and El Paso roads in rural Canyon County and collided with a semi-tractor hauling a milk tanker trailer. The impact knocked the street sign off the pole, uprooted one of the trees in Hess' yard, and ejected the man and woman inside the pickup. Gene Sell, 73, and his wife, Darlene, 68, weren't wearing their seatbelts and died at the scene.


Police name man killed in industrial incident

Salina, KS - The man killed Monday morning while working on a loader at Hronek Salvage, 146 S. Cherry, was identified Tuesday as Stanley Beckner, 61, 146 S. Cherry. Mike Marshall, deputy Salina police chief, said Beckner was working on the loader shortly before 11 a.m. Monday when the hydraulic arms suddenly lowered. Beckner was trapped between the lift arms and the frame of the loader, Marshall said.


One worker killed, two others seriously injured in shredder

Seattle, WA-An industrial accident at a South Seattle scrap recycler that shreds metal from cars killed one employee and left two others hospitalized with serious injuries Wednesday. The three Seattle Iron & Metals Corp. workers were preparing to repair the recycler's massive car shredder when a metal service platform they were installing shifted, pinning them inside the machine, authorities said.


One person dead in Palatine fire

IL-The owner of a Palatine auto repair shop was killed Thursday when a fire ravaged his business, fire officials said. Michael Kipnis, 40, of Lake Zurich was the lone fatality in the blaze; 12 others - one person from the auto shop and 11 employees from another business that shares the same building - safely escaped.


Cooper Tire Worker Killed

Texarkana, AK- A long-time employee at Cooper’s Texarkana, Ark., plant was killed Jan. 16 when, according to news reports, he was struck by a piece of falling equipment. According to Cooper it was the first fatality at the plant in its 42-year history Construction worker dies in drilling accident


Long Island Rail Road worker is hit by train, dies; many delays

VALLEY STREAM, N.Y. (AP) _ A railway track worker was struck by a train and killed Wednesday, delaying service on several branches of North America's largest commuter rail system. The Long Island Rail Road worker was hit at 9:55 a.m. just west of the Valley Stream station by the 9:12 a.m. westbound train from Babylon to Manhattan's Pennsylvania Station. He was airlifted to a hospital, where he died.


Highway worker dies on road

College Station, AR-A state Highway and Transportation Department worker re-moving a dead animal from southbound Hwy. 67/167 about a quarter mile south of the on-ramp at Redmond Road Tuesday morning was struck and killed by a passing motorist. The AHTD employee was identified as Jerome Harris from College Station, according to Glenn Bolick, a spokesman for AHTD. Harris was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident, according to Bolick. The driver of the vehicle that struck Harris was identified as D. Lance Smith of Evening Shade. Smith was driving south in a 1994 Ford pickup on Hwy. 67/167 near Redmond Road when he struck Harris.


Tree Trimmer Dies After High Wind Knocks Down Limb

A tree trimmer was killed by a falling limb in Arlington yesterday, an apparent casualty of the high winds that raked the area. The worker, who was not identified immediately, was part of a seven-member crew from a private service that was trimming trees behind a house, authorities said. While crew members were rigging a tree to be trimmed, "a large gust of wind blew," according to a statement from Arlington authorities. Crew members heard "a large cracking sound," and a big branch broke from a tree and fell about 70 feet.

The workers tried to flee, but one was struck on the head by the falling branch. He was pronounced dead at the scene. His name is being withheld until relatives could be notified.


Man who died on job named

KALIHIWAI, HA — The Hawai‘i Department of Transportation yesterday announced the name of a man who was killed working on the job this week.

Johnathan Hirata
, 30, of Wailua, died after cutting down a tree near Kalihiwai bridge on the mauka side in Kilauea around 1 p.m. Wednesday. Hirata had been part of the maintenance crew for more than seven years. His family was notified of his death Wednesday night.


Warehouse Worker Killed When Run Over By Payloader

CHICAGO, IL -- Authorities are investigating the death of a Lake Station, Ind., man at a Chicago warehouse where he worked. Authorities said 48-year-old Craig Harlacker was run over Wednesday night by a payloader driven by a fellow Kinder Morgan employee. A report from the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office said the driver was apparently blinded by a mercury vapor light. The report states that Harlacker was wearing a hard hat with sound suppressors and may not have heard the payloader approaching.


Worker Dies After Falling from Roof

Fort Wayne, IN -- A Fort Wayne construction worker (Brandon J. Bragg, 26,) fell to his death Thursday morning, while finishing up a roofing project in DeKalb County.

Just before 9:30, crews were working on the building that now houses the Garrett Christmas Bureau. The building previously served as a church, and has steep roofs. The new roofing project was nearly complete, when a worker slipped and fell.

"There were two ladders going up to the roof with the scaffolding across and apparently he slid on to that and bounced off the scaffolding and fell to the ground," Garrett Police Detective Sterling Robbins II told NewsChannel 15.


10-Hour Effort Fails To Save Trapped Worker

Russell Gusloff of 904 Colfax Ave. was pronounced dead on the scene at 12:38 a.m. Thursday at Graber Concrete Pipe, 24W121 Army Trail Road in Bloomingdale, according to DuPage County Chief Deputy Coroner Charlie Dastych. "It was an extremely technical extrication," according to the firefighter, who said outside companies that specialize in rescues were brought in to help.

Upon arrival, crews were notified that an employee was engulfed by sand in a hopper located about 40 feet up on top of the building, according to a release from the district. After about an hour, the rescue was turned into a recovery effort because part of Gusloff’s body was exposed and showed "no signs of life," the firefighter said.


Police identify accident victim


SANDPOINT, ID -- The victim in Tuesday's deadly industrial accident at The Seasons resort development has been identified as Washington state resident Ezra D. Gordon. Sandpoint Police released the man's identity on Wednesday and a federal labor safety inspector investigated accident site. Authorities on Tuesday listed Gordon's age as 24, but he was actually 25.

Police Chief Mark Lockwood said Gordon lived in the Spokane area and was working for Crux Subsurface, a Spokane Valley firm which specializes in geotechnical drilling services. Crux was doing work for developers of the waterfront condominium and marina project, but Lockwood had no further details on the nature of Crux's work at the site. Gordon was part of a three-man crew using a track-mounted drilling machine when his clothes became entangled in the drill. "His clothes got caught in the apparatus and it pulled him in," Lockwood said.


Worker buried alive while filling a sewage trench

Mission Bluff, TX -- A construction worker was critically injured after accidentally being buried alive while filling a sewage trench in Fort Bend County. The unidentified man was working in the trench at a construction site near Mission Bluff late this afternoon when other construction workers began filling the trench, apparently covering him before anyone realized he was there, said Terriann Carlson, spokeswoman for the Fort Bend Sheriff's Office.

As soon as workers realized what had happened, they began digging the man out, but "he was down there for a good length of time," perhaps 20 to 30 minutes, Carlson said.


Police ID worker who died after falling down elevator shaft in Fort Lauderdale

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL -- A 42-year-old Lake Worth man died Tuesday after he fell 60 feet down an elevator shaft while working at an oceanfront hotel construction site, officials said.

Ronald D. Mc Rostie, a subcontractor and mechanic was getting ready to test elevator cars at the St. Regis Resort when the accident occurred around 2 p.m., Fort Lauderdale Fire-Rescue spokesman Stephen McInerny said.

The man went to work on an elevator he thought was on the seventh floor, opened the doors with keys and fell down the elevator shaft onto the car, which was on the first floor, McInerny said. The man worked for Schindler Elevator. Company officials could not be reached for comment.


Unclothed Worker Dies After Four-Story Plunge

A naked construction worker fell about four stories to his death early yesterday at the work site for a new downtown museum, D.C. police and fire officials said.

Joseph Oliver, 23, of La Plata was discovered about 6 a.m. in the basement elevator shaft area of the Newseum, which is being built at 555 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, officials said. Authorities said it was unclear why he was naked.


Maintenance worker dies as tractor traps him underwater in Weston

Fort Lauderdale, FL - Detectives from the Broward Sheriff's Office are investigating the death of a landscape maintenance worker, who was trapped underwater after his tractor tumbled into a pond on a Weston golf course.

Apparently, Carlos Carbena, 43, was operating a John Deere tractor with a mower attachment, cutting the grass, when the tractor lost traction and slid into the water, overturning and trapping him underwater.


Town official is killed by tree; Sturbridge man was an assessor

STURBRIDGE, MA -- A longtime town assessor and businessman died Monday afternoon shortly after a tree he was cutting down fell on him, police said.

Donald H. Mapplebeck, 67, was taken by ambulance to Harrington Memorial Hospital in Southbridge, where he died a short time later. He suffered severe trauma, Police Sgt. Kevin R. Mercier said in an interview yesterday.

Mr. Mapplebeck and his co-worker were taking down pine trees in the backyard at 67 Walker Pond Road when the accident happened just before 2:30 p.m., the sergeant said. A very large tree that was being cut down struck another tree as it fell, which redirected the path of the falling tree. Two police cruisers and an ambulance arrived within five minutes.


Pastor Fatally Shot In Prince George's

Suitland, MD -- A well-known Prince George's County minister who runs a transitional home for poor families died yesterday after being gunned down on the steps of his church in the morning.

The Rev. Milton L. Moore was outside the entrance of the Warriors for Christ Ministries in Suitland about 7 a.m. when he was struck in the upper body and bullets shattered a glass door, police and relatives said. He died at 4:25 p.m.


FBI Agent Killed While Training

BOWLING GREEN, Va. -- An FBI agent was killed Wednesday during a live-fire training exercise, the agency said. Supervisory Special Agent Gregory J. Rahoi, 38, of Wisconsin, was shot Wednesday during the exercise at Fort A.P. Hill, a sprawling Army base about an hour south of Washington.


Truck Driver Killed, Family Injured In Overnight Collision; One Truck Rear Ends Another On Bishop Ford Expressway

CHICAGO, IL -- The driver of a tractor-trailer truck was killed when the big rig he was driving rear-ended another semitrailer stopped in traffic on the Bishop Ford Freeway. Five others were badly hurt -- including his wife and three children -- in the collision early Wednesday on the South Side.

William Cummings, 65, of Springfield, Mo., was pronounced dead at 1:55 a.m. at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, according to a spokesman from the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office.


Bear-area motel worker killed in fall from ladder

Wilmington DE -- A worker was killed Tuesday when he fell 12 feet after climbing an extension ladder to a Bear-area motel roof to make repairs. Ramesh Patel, 44, who lives at the motel, was pronounced dead at the scene, said state police spokesman Cpl. Jeff Whitmarsh.


Firefighter dies on duty Long 'very religious and very dedicated to his family'

Charlotte, VA -- A veteran Charlotte firefighter died Friday night on duty while exercising, fire officials said. Just before 6 p.m., firefighter Kent Long, 44, collapsed at Charlotte Fire Station # 23 on W.T. Harris Boulevard. "He was a fine outstanding young man, very religious and very dedicated to his family," said Charlotte Fire Chief Luther Fincher Jr. Fincher said Long had gone out to do some windsprints between the firestation and a nearby church. A passerby noticed Long in the grass outside the station, Fincher said. Fellow firefighters began resuscitation efforts along with an on-duty medic crew. Long was rushed to Carolinas Medical Center where continued efforts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful.


Man Killed When Tree Falls On Him In New Jersey

JAMESBURG, N.J. -- A man who works at a tree removal company was horrified when a tree he was taking down struck a second tree, which fell and killed his son on Wednesday. Jerrold Love, 28, was killed in what police are terming a tragic accident.

"I saw the tree go down and hit the other tree, and I said, 'Please don't let anybody be over there,"' neighbor Robert Cunha told The Star-Ledger of Newark for Thursday's newspapers. "Then I heard the screams."


Shipyard worker dies of Dec. 5 gunshot; co-worker charged

MOBILE Ala.-- A shipyard worker shot in the head in a dispute with a co-worker on Dec. 5 has died. Police said Travis Baldwin, 25, of Fairhope died Thursday from his injury.

An assault charge against the co-worker, LeKelvin Carlton, 27, of Mobile, in custody since the shooting, has been upgraded to murder. Carlton surrendered to police a short time after the shooting. Baldwin was shot at Austal U.S.A. Shipyard in Mobile following an argument with Carlton over tools, police said.


$10,000 reward for clerk's killer Cops check tips

Aurora, CO -- A $10,000 reward is being offered by 7-Eleven for information leading to the conviction of the man who shot and killed a store clerk in Aurora on Sunday morning. The homicide investigation is the top priority for Aurora police, with several investigators assigned to track down dozens of tips that have come in, Detective Robert Friel said Tuesday. There has been no arrest so far.

"There are so many directions to go in," Friel said. "It's a big spider web." Jutte Gallegos Burton, 62, who worked an overnight shift at the 7-Eleven at East Sixth Avenue and Havana Street, was murdered behind the counter at the store at 3:08 a.m. Sunday.

Surveillance video shows the clerk and the gunman looking at each other and having a conversation that lasts about one minute. The man then pointed a shortened shotgun at her and pulled the trigger. Gallegos Burton tried to run into a manager's office behind the store counter, Friel said. She was shot once in the back.


Postal workers remember slain supervisor and dead carrier

San Francisco, CA -- More than 50 U.S. Postal Service workers held an unusual vigil Wednesday to remember both a slain San Francisco postal supervisor and the colleague police believe killed her and took his own life.

Genevieve Paez, 53, a customer service supervisor at the Postal Service annex on Napoleon Street in the Bayview district, was shot in the back of the head outside her home Nov. 28 as she was leaving for work.

Police believe a letter carrier who worked for her, 39-year-old Julius Kevin Tartt of South San Francisco, shot Paez, possibly because he was angry she had sought disciplinary action against him. That baffled co-workers at Wednesday evening's vigil, some of whom said Paez and Tartt had a long, friendly relationship. More here.


HIGHWAY WORKER KILLED

Columbus, WI -- Columbia County highway worker Nick B. Price, 41, was killed Tuesday in a freak accident while working with a crew near the intersection of highways 151 and 73 in Columbus, the Columbia County Sheriff's Office said.

Price and others were part of a crew mowing the ditch along U.S. 151 when one of the vehicles being used got stuck in mud, the Sheriff's Office said. A second vehicle was brought to the scene to pull the stuck vehicle free, and while that was being done Price was hit in the head by a cable and suffered fatal injuries.

Price was married and the father of a daughter.


T-shirt shop owner killed in robbery

St. Louis, MO -- The owner of a small T-shirt shop in St. Louis was shot and killed this morning during a robbery at his store, police said.

The shooting took place about 10:45 a.m. in the 4600 block of St. Louis Avenue, at Cora Avenue. The victim was identified as Jesse Taylor, 73, of Bellefontaine Neighbors. He was pronounced dead at the scene.


Shooting rampage kills 3 - 2 strip club employees among dead

NEW BEDFORD, MA - At about 7 Monday evening Irene Thomas, inside a friend's tanning salon, heard a ruckus outside the Foxy Lady strip club next door. She went outside and saw two club employees, manager Tory C. Marandos and bouncer Robert Carreiro, arguing with a third man she didn't recognize.

"I'll be back for you and you and everybody," the man shouted. She shrugged it off as just another barroom dispute.

Five hours later, at closing time, a man walked into the club and went on a shooting rampage. He wielded an assault weapon and wore dark, paramilitary-style clothing. When it was all over, Carreiro, 32, of New Bedford, and Marandos, 30, of Nashua, N.H., were dead. Their killer, Scott C. Medeiros, 35, of Freetown, apparently took his own life, the police said. (More here.)


Friends, customers mourn slain Shoreline convenience store clerk

SHORELINE Wash.-- Relatives, friends and customers are mourning the unexplained killing of a convenience store clerk, an immigrant who helped support his ill father in this suburb north of Seattle.

King County sheriff's Sgt. John W. Urquhart said a customer found the man's body just after 4 a.m. Sunday on the sidewalk in front of the 7-Eleven store where he worked the night shift. Investigators have not determined who might be responsible, nor was anything missing, Urquhart said.

Ho Viet Ton, 49, was shot while sitting outside the store on a cigarette break within sight of the Shoreline Police Neighborhood Center across the street, but surveillance videotape provided no useful clues, Ron Conlin of 7-Eleven Inc. said Monday.


Deer comes through windshield, kills truck driver

Odell, Neb. -- In a bizarre traffic collision near Odell, Neb., a deer smashed through the windshield of a semitrailer truck, striking and killing the driver.

The deer had a broken leg, probably from being hit by another vehicle, and jumped into the path of the truck as it drove west on Nebraska Highway 8 just before 6 p.m. Thursday, said Gage County Sheriff's Deputy Larry Kendall said. The deer struck the hood of the semi, went through the windshield and into the cab.

The driver, 34-year-old Travis Hedman, of Morganville, Kan., was killed. After the collision, the truck went into a ditch, into a field and then rolled onto the passenger side, according to the Sheriff's Office.

Emergency crews found Hedman and the deer, both dead, in the cab of the truck, Kendall said. Hedman, who worked for Carlson Trucking Co. out of Clay Center, Kan., had been transporting a load of pipe on a flatbed trailer.


LaPorte man killed in accident at work

Authorities have identified the man who was fatally injured in Bertrand Township early Wednesday while working on his semi-truck and trailer as John P. Bryan, 33, of LaPorte.

The vehicle reportedly rolled over on Bryan as he was performing maintenance on it shortly before 5:30 a.m. in the parking lot of the DHL Worldwide Express terminal at 2121 Chicago Road, just southwest of Niles, the Michigan State Police post in Niles reported. Bryan was an independent contract carrier who worked for Werner Enterprises, DHL said.


Construction Worker Falls To Death

A construction worker on a condo remodeling project fell to his death Thursday morning. At about 8:40 a.m. police responded to a report of a fall at the Tequesta Towers Condominium at 400 Beach Road. Jose Caliz, 41, of Jupiter was working on a balcony renovation when he fell 10 stories, police said. He was flown to St. Mary's Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. The Fort Lauderdale office of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration is conducting an investigation, Area Director Luis Santiago said, but no details about the incident were available Friday.


Five workers killed in head-on collision near Modesto

OAKDALE Calif. -- A pickup truck slammed head-on into a car on a San Joaquin Valley road, killing five people on their way to work, the California Highway Patrol said. Four of the victims were related.

The truck's driver, Justin Chase Christensen, 26, of Oakdale, was the only survivor of Thursday's crash, said Highway Patrol Officer John Martinez. Christensen was arrested at the hospital, where he remained hospitalized with major injuries and was under 24-hour guard.

Martinez said the CHP will recommend to prosecutors that he be charged with five counts of vehicular manslaughter and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Christensen remained hospitalized Friday. The CHP said his blood tested positive for alcohol and heroin.

The five people killed were not all identified by Friday, but Martinez said they were two cousins, two brothers-in-law and a friend, all of Oakdale. The men were on their way to work at a nearby tree farm. All five were pronounced dead at the scene.

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