Friday, December 31, 2004

Look Both Ways -- And Then Pray

Walt Bogdanich at the New York Times continues his series on railroad hazards today with a story on malfunctioning signals at rail crossings.
A Times computer analysis of government records found that from 1999 through 2003, there were at least 400 grade-crossing accidents in which signals either did not activate or were alleged to have malfunctioned. At least 45 people were killed and 130 injured in those accidents, according to the records, although in most cases the role of signal malfunctions was unclear. Federal rules require that railroads maintain signals on tracks they own.
The problem is that either the railroads nor the Federal Railroad Administration which regulates the railroads have an effective or accurate method of reporting, tracking or confirming malfunctions in crossing mechanisms. Malfunctions reported by citizens are often not confirmed, even after accidents occur. And the railroads would rather blame accidents on driver error, than on their own malfunctioning equipment.

"My concern is that this is just the tip of the iceberg," said James E. Hall, a
former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board. "If we had that
type of record in aviation, it would be unacceptable."

Bogdonovitch's previous stories have talked about the failure of the Bush administration's Federal Railroad Commission to effectively enforce rail safety and the rail company's efforts to blame crossing accidents on driver error, rather than equipment problems. Other stories about the NY Times series here, here and here.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Tsunami Thoughts

You may have noted that President Bush has come under some criticism because he was too busy whacking his weeds to express concern with one of the greatest humanitarian disasters in history -- one whose greatest effect was felt in the largest islamic country in the world.

As you might expect, some bloggers had some interesting things to say. First, James Wolcott:

I was pleased to see the President of the United States put down the frigging rake long enough to put on his best Sunday-go-to-meetin' suit and issue a public statement regarding the catastrophic tsunami. "Earlier yesterday," reported The Washington Post, "White House spokesman Trent Duffy said the president was confident he could monitor events effectively without returning to Washington or making public statements in Crawford, where he spent part of the day clearing brush and bicycling. Explaining the about-face, a White House official said: 'The president wanted to be fully briefed on our efforts. He didn't want to make a symbolic statement about "We feel your pain."'"

Clearing brush? What is he, Luke on The Real McCoys, Eb on Green Acres, or the cardboard cut-out figurehead leader of the free world?

Given the sedated performance he put on today, which resembled a clinical demonstration of "lack of affect" for beginning interns, Bush needn't worry that anyone will confuse him with Huggy-Bear Bill or accuse him of overdoing the empathy. He'll never be mistaken for a mensch.

Bush and Colin Powell were soon shamed into promising at least $35 million as a down payment. But even when qualified as a down payment with more to come, it was insulting. Or as Bob Harris says, an obscenity:

Writing from Tasmania, which is a great place I'd love to write more about and surely will someday. But I just don't feel like it right now.

I wish I knew how to do more to help the people who need it right this minute. I wish I knew how to get my government to behave without its usual level of shameless self-absorption and shortsightedness.

$35 million. Swell.

The death toll is rapidly approaching six digits -- imagine 30 September 11ths, if you wish, with all the sudden speed, chaos, and complete wreckage of human life that entails -- with the number of affected people surely ten times that high. And the richest country in the world, the one which believes itself to be singular among nations (thus ironically fulfilling the notion before the neurons have even cooled), can only muster a few dollars per life destroyed.
What's $35 million?

The amount it takes to fix up one park in Pittsburgh.It's exactly one new school in Montclair, New Jersey.

It's what Dick Cheney put in his own back pocket by ditching his Halliburton stock.

And it's one four-thousandth of what the U.S. has spent invading and occupying Iraq.
Tens of thousands of dead in a dozen countries on two continents, after a disaster so large it literally changed the map of Indonesia and completely obliterated the southernmost tip of India.

Survival infrastructures are simply gone now in many places. Famine and pestilence are likely to take at least as many lives if the rest of us fellow humans don't do enough to help right now.

$35 million. George W. Bush is telling the largest Muslim nation on Earth that the massive destruction in Aceh is worth less than the United States spends on occupying Iraq every day.


Even the New York Times chimed in with a defense of United Nations' emergency relief coordinator, Jan Egeland, who called the rich countries – including the richest country, “stingy.”

Mr. Egeland was right on target. We hope Secretary of State Colin Powell was privately embarrassed when, two days into a catastrophic disaster that hit 12 of the world's poorer countries and will cost billions of dollars to meliorate, he held a press conference to say that America, the world's richest nation, would contribute $15 million. That's less than half of what Republicans plan to spend on the Bush inaugural festivities.

The American aid figure for the current disaster is now $35 million, and we applaud Mr. Bush's turnaround. But $35 million remains a miserly drop in the bucket, and is in keeping with the pitiful amount of the United States budget that we allocate for nonmilitary foreign aid. According to a poll, most Americans believe the United States spends 24 percent of its budget on aid to poor countries; it actually spends well under a quarter of 1 percent.

Bush administration officials help create that perception gap. Fuming at the charge of stinginess, Mr. Powell pointed to disaster relief and said the United States "has given more aid in the last four years than any other nation or combination of nations in the world." But for development aid, America gave $16.2 billion in 2003; the European Union gave $37.1 billion. In 2002, those numbers were $13.2 billion for America, and $29.9 billion for Europe.

Making things worse, we often pledge more money than we actually deliver. Victims of the earthquake in Bam, Iran, a year ago are still living in tents because aid, including ours, has not materialized in the amounts pledged. And back in 2002, Mr. Bush announced his Millennium Challenge account to give African countries development assistance of up to $5 billion a year, but the account has yet to disperse a single dollar.

But enough politics. If you can break away from whacking your own weeds for a few minutes, here are some good places to send some of the money you won't be using for your inauguration day festivities.

American Red Cross International Response Fund
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent
AmeriCares South Asia Earthquake Relief Fund
Direct Relief International International Assistance Fund
Médecins Sans Frontières International Tsunami Emergency Appeal
Oxfam Asian Earthquake & Tsunami Fund
Sarvodaya Relief Fund for Tsunami Tragedy
UNICEF South Asia Tsunami Relief Efforts
American Friends Service Committee
Habitat for Humanity International
Direct Relief International
Save The Children Asia Earthquake / Tsunami Relief Fund

Bob Harris has some thoughts about what some of the different organizations are doing. Thanks also to Seeing the Forest and Daily Kos for suggestions. Also check out the Tsunami Help Blog.

And if you're interested in what labor unions around the world are doing, LabourStart is keep track here.

More Election Thoughts

And as 2004 comes to a sorry end, a young man's thoughts turn to -- what else -- November 2006 and November 2008. It's December 30th , some say a week past the darkest day of the year. As far as I'm concerned, however, the darkest day of next year will fall on January 20.

Some decent articles have appeared lately on the elections -- past and future. First, by David Moberg in the Nation about labor's contribution to the last election and what the Democratic party -- and the labor movement -- can learn for the next.

Reading this, you wonder why the number one priority for every Democrat and progressive in this country isn't rebuilding the labor movement.
Union members turned out in greater numbers than average: They are 8 percent of eligible voters but were 14 percent of voters in the presidential election, and another 10 percent of voters came from a household with a union member.

They also voted disproportionately for Kerry. A postelection poll by Hart Research for the AFL-CIO found that union members voted for Kerry over Bush by 65 percent to 33 percent. In the battleground states, where labor's effort was most intense, Hart found that AFL-CIO members voted for Kerry 68 percent to 31 percent. Other exit and postelection polls showed a slightly smaller majority--ranging from 61 to 63 percent--of union members voting for Kerry nationally.


It's been hard for unions struggling to maintain their numbers to expand their clout at the ballot box. Although union membership has declined as a percentage of the workforce, the number of union-household voters did increase this year. At the same time, overall turnout was up, and the union-household share of the electorate slipped 2 percent from 2002. Unions also boosted members' support for Kerry a couple of points above Gore's vote. There will always be conservative union members who vote Republican, but the diverse nature of membership gives unions a better chance than many progressive groups to sway swing voters.

Because unions can use dues money only for political work among members, the challenge for labor--and the Democrats--is straightforward: "We don't have enough union members," says AFL-CIO political director Karen Ackerman. If unions represented the same share of the workforce that they did twenty years ago, Kerry would almost certainly have won.


The results of labor's strong economic message were dramatic, nevertheless, with union members supporting Kerry even when they were part of demographic groups that were generally stalwart Bush backers. While white men overall favored Bush by eighteen points, white male union members favored Kerry by twenty-one points. Gun owners in the general public favored Bush by twenty points; unionist gun owners favored Kerry by twelve points. Kerry lost seniors overall narrowly, but won by a margin of forty-one points among seniors in unions. Weekly churchgoers gave Bush a margin of twenty-one points, but if they were union members, regular churchgoers voted for Kerry by twelve points. Economic issues, argues UNITE HERE (textile workers, hotel and restaurant employees) political director Chris Chafe, "can bring out your values messages. Healthcare is a moral issue for us. Social Security and retirement with dignity are moral issues with us." It's a morality, wedded to self-interest, that resonates far beyond labor's ranks.
So what are the problems facing labor and Democrats?

Many union members are rightly cynical about how seriously top Democratic politicians are committed to the economic issues that unions emphasize, especially trade and corporate power.
And then there was the war:
Perhaps because it was tied to Kerry's muddled position, however, the labor movement did not vigorously oppose the war during the campaign. Some unions didn't mention Iraq; the AFL-CIO produced one leaflet criticizing spending $200 billion on Iraq while needs are unmet at home. At least labor did not actively support the war (in sharp contrast with the Vietnam War), and several big unions, including AFSCME, SEIU and CWA, advocated withdrawing US troops now. Yet in the end, even though union members were primed to make their presidential decision in terms of a troubled economy and a misguided war, only 51 percent who ranked the war as the first or second most
So what is to be done, according to Moberg?
Political work must be ongoing, not intermittent spurts around election time. The education work must also be more thoughtful than a series of election-year leaflets, not only promoting deeper understanding of the core economic issues but also critically analyzing America's role in the world. There must be more effort to get members to reach out to each other in their workplaces and communities: The flood of union staff and members from blue to battleground states showed great solidarity, but it's ultimately no subsitute for home-grown networks. Most of all, there's an urgent need to make the right to organize freely at work the new civil rights movement--and to reform internally to make such organizing possible.
Michael Gecan of the Industrial Areas Foundation had some provocative thoughts in the Washington Post. He criticized Democrats' use of celebreties like Bruce Springsteen to rally the troops. I don't necessarily agree with that observation. I went to the Kerry-Springsteen rally in Columbus a couple of days before the election. I think a good rally now and then can be energizing for the soul. And we needed all the energy we could get. I take his other thoughts much more seriously:
Scores of thousands of people, many of them paid (how else do you squander $200 million?), knocked on millions of doors during this campaign. The Democratic-leaning canvassers left information, repeated a canned sales pitch and moved along. They did not engage the people in real conversation. They did not listen to their concerns. They did not recruit real volunteers to work on their own blocks. They did not take the time to find out which pastor or rabbi was a leader in an area and which congregations people attended. They were progressive salespeople with a high quota of contacts and no time to relate, who disappeared from people's towns and lives the very moment, on election night, that they learned the sale had not been made.

It was as if they had never been there. And in a way, they never were. These two tendencies -- celebrity worship and quick-hit canvassing -- betray the central problem at the heart of the Democratic Party's political culture. The party has no time or patience for the complex work needed to listen to Americans, to understand their range of views and positions, and to engage them on their deepest interests. Even worse, many in the hierarchy of the Democratic Party have contempt for ordinary Americans -- for their red faces and moderate churches and mixed, often moderate, views.

No amount of money can solve this problem. No think tank has the answers. No rising senatorial star can save the day. And no Hollywood hero can substitute for the fundamental changes the Democrats need to make to contend for the large, pivotal middle of the American electorate.
Personally, I didn't do nearly enough talking with (or listening to) those whose political opinions differed from mine. But when I did, I found it enormously educational. Not that it changed my mind (and I'm not sure I changed any of theirs), but it did make me much more aware of where they're coming from, where they get their opinions and what they're based on. And that's the kind of information we need in order to develop the responses that will resonate with those who now get most of their political information from talk radio or their churches. Somehow talk radio was talking to them more effectively than we were. We've got a few years not to learn to talk -- and listen -- more effectively. Let's not waste them.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

154 Law Enforcement Officers Die in '04

Quiz Time

What is the leading cause of death for law enforcement officers in the United States?

(a) shootings

(b) job-related illnesses

(c) traffic-related incidents

(d) bomb-related incidents

The answer by far is (c), traffic related accidents. According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF), 154 law enforcement officers across the nation were killed in the line of duty during 2004. 72 were died in traffic-related incidents (51 officers killed in automobile accidents, 12 were struck and killed by vehicles during traffic stops and while assisting at accident scenes, and nine were killed in motorcycle accidents.) 57 died in shootings.

In addition,
11 officers succumbed to job-related illnesses; three died in aircraft accidents; three drowned; three died in bomb-related incidents; two fell to their deaths; one was beaten to death; one was electrocuted; and one was struck by a falling object. Of the 154 federal, state and local officers who died last year, eight were female.
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund Chairman Craig W. Floyd is calling for
Better driver training, safer automobiles, and the increased use of bullet-resistant vests and less-lethal weapons are just some of the measures that must be taken to help prevent our officers from being killed while preserving public safety.
One of the job related illnesses that kill law enforcement officers is workplace stress. According to an article on the NLEOMF website:
500 law officers...have died in the performance of duty from either a heart attack or some form of stroke. This represents about three percent of the more than 16,500 officers who are honored on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C. Approximately 90 heart attack and stroke cases have been added to the Memorial in the last 10 years.

Labor Website of the Year

Must be that time of year.

Confined Space has been nominated for Labor Website of the Year. You can vote for Confined Space here or in that colorful blue, green, yellow and red box in the upper right corner. If you actually want to look at the other 126 worthy nominees before voting (which I'd strongly encourage you to do), go here.

The competition is run by LabourStart, "Where trade unionists start their day on the net." In case you've never checked it out, LabourStart is an international labor news service and is the source of the headlines you see on the right sight of this site.

Voting ends on January 15, 2005. You can only vote for one site.

Explosion at Scrap Metal Plant

Breaking News: The Yaffe Iron and Metals scrap metal plant in Muskogee, Oklahoma exploded tonight, injuring two workers. There are also reports that two workers may be missing.

I probably wouldn't even have mentioned it except that I noticed that a lot of people searching Google for information about the explosion were being led to Confined Space.

Why? Last April, I reported this:
Rodrigo Diaz, 63, of Rogers died Sunday at the burn unit in a Springfield, Mo., hospital. He lived for 20 days after he accidentally set himself on fire outside the business at 721 N. Arkansas while using a cutting torch.

Johnnie Johnson, safety director for Yaffe Companies in Muskogee, Okla., said the investigation will show Diaz's death was the result of a "tragic, freak accident" and that Rogers Iron and Metal was not at fault. Yaffe is Rogers Iron and Metal's parent company.
Hmm, an explosion following a fatality? Maybe Diaz's death wasn't so "freak" after all.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

OSHA Injury & Illness Stats: Good News or No News?

I have come under a bit of criticism (shocking isn't it) on a safety listerve for not covering the Bureau of Labor Statistics' recent announcement that
nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in private industry declined in 2003, both in terms of the number of cases per 100 full-time workers, as well as the total number of injury and illness cases reported.
A contributor to the "Safety" listserve writes:
I find it interesting that in his little blog Jordan Barab does not mention that: "Approximately 4.4 million injuries and illnesses were reported in private industry workplaces during 2003, according to the latest report by the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics. The number translates to a rate of 5.0 cases per 100 full-time workers and a 7.1 percent decrease in the actual number of injuries and illnesses reported in 2002."

A 7.1 decrease in injuries and illnesses. Why all the focus on the negative? Things are improving out there. Perhaps he should highlight the positive as well.
And a private e-mail asks:
Could it be that, by concentrating on the news that you think could be interpreted as
negative to the current administration, you are using safety to promote your political agenda. Nah, people on the left would never do such a thing. Or would they?

For shame.
Yeah, I'm hanging my head. Wait... just a minute...let me get my tail...out from between my legs...OK, now where was I? "Little Blog?" Ooo, that hurts.

Seriously, I hadn't decided whether I was going to write about the BLS numbers or not. It's the holiday season and I'm not writing that much. And I'd rather write about more important issues. I'm not saying that the number of workers getting injured every year isn't important, I'm saying that the BLS data isn't important; that is, I don't think it can be believed, whether it's going up, down or sideways.

Why not? Let me count the ways:
  • A recent study in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine shows the BLS estimates missed as many as 69 percent of all injuries.

  • One reason is that OSHA's targeting system relies on employers' injury and illness reports, giving them an incentive to underreport in order to avoid inspections.

  • Meanwhile, despite strong evidence that they discourage reporting, safety incentive program remain popular in American industry. As I wrote last year:
    Unions oppose safety incentive games as one of a variety of ways to discourage workers from reporting injuries or otherwise underestimate the rate of injuries and illnesses in the country. They are part of a management philosophy called behavioral safety, which assumes that workers' behavior is at the bottom of most health and safety problems (as opposed to hazardous working conditions) and that incentives (like money) or punishments will "correct" that behavior.
    Much more on behavioral safety at the Hazards Magazine website.

  • Musculoskeletal disorders account for more than one-third of all injuries and illnesses involving days away from work and remain the biggest category of injury and illness, according to the BLS. OSHA has estimated that MSDs are understated by at least a factor of two and testimony delivered at the 2000 ergonomics standard hearings confirmed this estimate. OSHA made the problem worse in 2003 when it removed the column for reporting musculoskeletal injuries from its reporting form.

  • I've written a number of times about large companies being caught not reporting injuries and illnesses. For example, a couple of months ago, OSHA fined General Motors Powertrain Corp $140,000 for not reporting almost 100 injuries and illnesses on the OSHA 300 Log.

  • An article in the LA times last October described massive and deliberate underreporting at Southern California Edison. Why did they rig the numbers?:
    Because they had an incentive to do so. A 1997 Public Utilities Commission (PUC) program rewards or fines utilities for a number of measures, including employee safety. The decision to grant rate increases is also partially dependent on these numbers. Another measure that goes into the rate increase calculation is customer satisfaction. SCE was also found to have rigged those numbers as well, and agreed to return $14.4 million. Edison has now had to agree to return $20 million in safety awards already paid to Edison, plus $15 million pending for 2001 through 2003.
  • And lets not forget the invisibility of occupational illnesses and deaths from occupational illness. As I wrote a couple of weeks ago:
    Revere at Effect Measure points out that by the most conservative estimate, 75 people die each week due to work-related cancer.
    If 75 people died in a train wreck or 75 people died in a building collapse or 75 schoolchildren in a school shooting it would make headlines in every newspaper in the country. But we won't read about it.

    Not only will 75 workers die today. But they did yesterday, too, and will tomorrow and so on, day after day after day. Bhopal in slow motion.
    And, of course, even those numbers don't include people who die of other work-related illnesses like silicosis, liver disease and black lung. Almost none of their names will ever be known.
    Nor do they show up in the BLS reports.

  • I generally take workplace fatality statistics more seriously than injury and illness statistics on the assumption that it's harder (although not impossible) to hide a work-related dead body than to hide a work-related injury or illness. Workplace fatalities actually went up last year while injury and illness numbers were falling. In fact, if you look at the years 1992 - 2003, you find that the total number of injuries and illnesses fell 36% while fatalities fell only 12%. Seems like they should be running approximately parallel.
So what are the real numbers and which way are they going? Who knows? We haven't found an effective way to keep track, nor have we done what must be done to eliminate the incentives to underreport.

OSHA Director John Henshaw likes to shrug off criticism of his reign at OSHA by touting his "triple bottom line" -- bringing down workplace illnesses, injuries, and fatalities.

Well, I don't have an MBA and don't know much about bottom lines, but I do know that if a company based its bottom line projections on data as flimsy as the BLS data, they wouldn't be in business very long.

So, no, my lack of reporting has nothing to do with my "political agenda." In fact, I'm not using safety to further my political agenda; I'm using politics to further my safety agenda. There's a big difference.

Manufacturers Association Misses Bill Clinton

The National Association of Manufacturers is pining away for the good old days of Bill Clinton and Charles Jeffress. Without their favorite old punching bags, they've been reduced to criticizing those radical regulators over at George Bush and John Henshaw's OSHA.

In its recent Workplace Watch, NAM critizes OSHA for "advancing a draconian reduction in the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for hexavalent chromium." OSHA has proposed a 50% reduction in the exposure level of hex chrome following a court order last year.

NIOSH had originally called on OSHA to revise the standard in 1976. In 1993, Public Citizen and the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers Union petitioned OSHA to lower the permissible exposure limit, and when no action was taken, Public Citizen and the Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical and Energy Workers International Union (PACE) sued the agency in 2002.

Hexavalent chromium is a chemical substance that causes lung cancer, asthma, skin ulcerations and contact dermatitis in the 1 million workers exposed to it.

But on behalf of its members, NAM is upset -- very very upset:
The new PEL and action level are arduous for an industry that extensively uses hex chrome. The finishing industry calculated that the average finishing job shop or small operation (to operate consistently within the range of 5 to 10 micrograms/cubic meter) would have to spend an estimated $300,000 in capital and operating costs in the first year of compliance. They would have to spend almost equal to that figure in subsequent years. This figure is in dramatic contrast to OSHA's estimated compliance cost of $15,000-$18,000 to meet the new PEL.
In other words, the sky will fall if this standard ever sees the light of day. Luckily, NAM is ready to come to the rescue (just send your dues dollars right here.)

Yeah, yeah, put away the violins. Pardon my skepticism, but it would be an understatement to say we've heard it all before.

You see, regulated industries always claim that OSHA regulations will put them out of business and always accuse OSHA of underestimating the compliance costs.

And they're always wrong.
A 1995 study by the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) on several OSHA regulations showed the exact same thing. The OTA looked at several OSHA standards that had been in effect for a number of years to determine the accuracy of cost and benefit estimates by OSHA and the regulated industries. The study showed that not only does industry grossly overestimate expected costs, but even OSHA routinely overestimated the costs and underestimated the benefits of standards. OTA found that part of the reason that OSHA overestimates costs is that the agency fails to take into account the fact that American businesses are especially talented at developing new technologies that are much more cost effective and efficient than OSHA had predicted.
NAM has asked for an extension in the comment period while because business associations are "now collecting data, evaluating impacts and preparing to submit comments to OSHA."

We've seen these business "evaluations" before. During the ergonomics comment period, NAM sent surveys to its members asking them to list the imagined costs of implementing the standard. Somehow, they neglected to ask their members if they expected any benefits from preventing costly musculoskeletal injuries.

NAM's complaints are almost amusing considering that Bush's OSHA has actually withdrawn more standards than it's issued. This was the first administration in history that didn't issue a single major standard. And the hex chrome proposal was the only major proposal issued -- under court order.

Oh, and just for good measure, NAM is also hoping "that a new head of OSHA will slow down the troubling ergonomics guidelines process." This "troubling" guidelines process had produced a grand total of three toothless guidelines in four years: poultry processing, retail grocery stores, and nursing homes. At least they didn't have the gall to criticize OSHA's ergonomics enforcement activities. The agency has cited 15 companies for ergonomic hazards over the past four years. Not bad for a problem that accounts for one third of all workplace injuries and illnesses every year.

One more thing. What with the new Congress and newly elected President, NAM is asking Workplace Watch to "help us identify the worst regulations that need to be brought to the attention of the policymakers."

I'd like to nominate the recently issued overtime regulations. Send your nominations to Chris Tampio at

Thursday, December 23, 2004

A Uniter, Not A Divider

Bush to Renominate 20 Judges Whom Democrats Have Resisted

Published: December 23, 2004

WASHINGTON, Dec. 23 - President Bush plans to renominate 20 candidates for federal judgeships who have been unable to win confirmation in the Senate, the White House said today, in a signal that the president is ready for a showdown early next year.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Epilogue on the Death of Erlinda Ursua

I wrote over a year ago about the tragic death of Dr. Erlinda Ursua who was beaten to death by a mental health patient at John George Psychiatric Pavilion in California.

I just ran across an excellent article by Susan Goldsmith in the East Bay Express, written last February, about conditions at John George and the futile attempts of John George employees and CalOSHA to convince management to implement measures to make their workplace safer.
There must have been an awful commotion, although no one heard a thing. It was a busy county psychiatric hospital, after all, and the Unit C exam room door was closed. But inside, a terrible story was unfolding. During a routine afternoon checkup this past November, Dr. Erlinda Ursua was slain by one of her own patients, a severely mentally ill woman who had been brought to John George Psychiatric Pavilion that morning. The doctor was beaten savagely, according to sheriff's department records, her head and face smashed again and again into a solid object. She also was strangled, according to a not-yet-released autopsy report. Outside the door and just up the hall, nurses, mental health specialists, and doctors went about their work completely unaware of what was happening inside the room. Although the examination room had a panic button, the sixty-year-old MD, who stood only four-foot-eleven, couldn't get to it during the attack.

A hospital janitor made the ghastly discovery later that afternoon. Ricardo Simpson opened the exam room door so he could empty the trash and found the doctor's body on the floor. Her physician's coat was open and her shoes sat next to her feet. An earring, a piece of a jade bracelet, and paperwork were strewn around. No one else was in the room.

Alameda County Sheriff's Department detectives told Lorenzo Ursua that his wife probably didn't die during the beating. She lay there undiscovered for an hour and a half, they estimated, and was most likely alive for at least some of that time.
Ursua's death was only the latest incident in a long line of assaults that had brought several CalOSHA citations.
While staffers at the 88-bed psychiatric hospital were deeply saddened by their colleague's murder, hardly anyone was shocked. For years, they have complained of assaults by patients, many of whom are severely mentally ill and are brought to the San Leandro facility against their will by the cops. Some are homeless; others are transferred from area jails. Many show up after going off their psychiatric medications and arrive in frightening states: They are brought in unkempt and reeking, covered in feces, barking like dogs, or dressed up in costumes. Patients also have been admitted with knives and other weapons stashed in their pockets.

"I've seen so many of my co-workers taken out on stretchers. It's terrible," says Cheryl Omeregie, a mental health specialist at John George who is out on stress leave after saving a colleague's life during a Christmas Day stabbing in 2002.

Stretchers for wounded staff members were all too common in the twelve months prior to Erlinda Ursua's death. One nurse was stabbed twice in the back. Another was punched in the face and had his nose broken. A staff member's head was slammed into a wall so hard she suffered a concussion, and another nearly lost an eye to a pencil-wielding patient. A doctor's jaw was dislocated, and one aide's knee was injured so severely that it required surgery and now has to be replaced. These, according to Dr. Harold Cottman, a hospital psychiatrist, are in addition to numerous less-serious assaults. In 2003 alone, at least six hospital employees went out on workers' compensation leave following patient attacks. But because of poor record-keeping, a top hospital administrator was unable to say just how many other employees went on leave in prior years. Only one thing was certain, the administrator said: "I can tell you there were others."
And the situation at John George was hardly unique:
In fact, the statistics are staggering. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration reported last year that mental health workers were five times more likely to be the victims of nonfatal violent crime on the job than workers in any other occupation. In a 1998 report, Cal-OSHA warned that psychiatric workers "may be at a higher risk for injuries from assaults than the risk for injuries from all causes in the country's most hazardous industry."
So what or who was to blame? Unresponsive administrators, laws passed to protect the civil rights of patients which make it more difficult for employees to medicate or restrain violent residents and dwindling funding for outpatient mental health services that increase emergency admissions at psychiatric hospitals which are also having their budgets cut.

All of the above, and more. As I wrote a year ago, the root cause of the horrific situation in this country's mental health institutions may lie even deeper.
The question is who will pay for the things that society demands to make life in this country civilized and livable? If those who already have more than enough money are to pay, then their taxes need to be raised. The other option is budget cuts and increases regressive sales taxes and “user fees,” in which case the poor and struggling middle class end up forking out the dollars, while those who don’t have the means to help themselves -- unemployed, the disabled, the mentally ill -- end up "paying" in the form of fewer services.

In the meantime, workers are paying the price with their health and their lives. California, and a handful of other states that run their own OSHA programs, like Minnesota, Oregon and Washington occasionally cite employers for exposing workers to the threat of workplace violence. Federal OSHA, although it issued guidelines for health care, social services and retail workers, has not handed down a workplace violence citation since 1995...Maybe it's time for OSHA to start working seriously on a workplace violence standard.
The chances of that don't seem too likely, however. Departing OSHA director John Henshaw doesn't even think that workplace violence is a legitimate workplace hazard that OSHA can do anything to prevent.

But with drastic budget cuts coming down the line in the wake of massive federal budget deficits, it will become more and more important for OSHA to pressure the administrators of health care institutions to ensure the safety of their employees. Let's hope that the new Assistant Secretary is more sensitive to the dangerous and important work of dedicated employees like Erlinda Ursua.

The general practitioner loved her job and went about it cheerfully, despite the less-than-cheery workplace environment, her colleagues say. A native of the Philippines, she immigrated to the United States in 1975 with her husband and oldest daughter. Another daughter was born while Ursua pursued her California medical license. She took a job in Alameda County's public health system in 1977 and never left.

Colleagues describe Dr. Ursua as a devoted physician who treated her patients with great respect and patience. She didn't fit the doctor-with-an-ego stereotype; co-workers say she regularly ate her lunch with hospital housekeepers rather than with her medical colleagues. "They used to all share their lunches," recalls Soccoro Smith, a John George nurse for twelve years who has been on workers' compensation leave since 2001. Smith was attacked twice in one month by different patients who hit, kicked, and punched her in the head and neck. "Dr. Ursua comforted me and calmed me down. I was ready to walk off the job," she says.

Jack Newfield 1938 -2004: “A voice of conscience, a voice of sacred rage”

“When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life in such a manner that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice”

• Old Indian Proverb

How the Other Half Still Lives
by Jack Newfield, The Nation, February 27, 2003

In 1890 the great photojournalist Jacob Riis published his now classic book about immigrant tenement poverty in lower Manhattan, called How the Other Half Lives. During the past few months I have tried to retrace some of Riis's steps through modern New York's pain and deprivation. As New York's (and America's) economy has turned bleaker and bleaker, I hung out in unemployment offices, food-stamp application centers and the occasional job fair, where lines of job-seekers were never short. I traveled around in a van with volunteers from the Coalition for the Homeless as they distributed free hot meals at night to the city's most defeated and destitute inhabitants.

I visited union halls, food pantries, immigrant community centers and the dreadful Emergency Assistance Unit (EAU) in the Bronx. I interviewed community organizers, economists, politicians, leaders of nonprofit advocacy groups--as well as the jobless, homeless and hopeless. I wanted to understand better how the other half lives now, and who was responsible for this misery in the midst of this new, twenty-first-century Gilded Age of excess produced by the money culture, corporate scandal and the concentration of wealth and power.

What I learned was that in some ways little has changed since Riis published his reportorial findings in 1890. The poor are still largely invisible to the complacent majority. Most Americans don't see the everydayness of poverty. It is segregated in "bad neighborhoods" and in impersonal government waiting rooms. We don't see all the people being told there are no applications for food stamps available at that location; all the people postponing medical treatment for their children because they don't have health insurance; all the people trying to find a job with their phone service shut off because they couldn't pay the bill; or all the deliverymen for drugstores and supermarkets paid only $3 an hour, which is illegal.

In one way we are even worse off than we were 113 years ago: We have no Jacob Riis now humanizing poverty, making the satisfied see it and smell it. We have no American Dickens or Orwell, no James Agee and Walker Evans, no Michael Harrington, no John Steinbeck, no Edward R. Murrow.
And now, sadly, we have no Jack Newfield.


The Village Voice:

In the introduction to The Education, Newfield quoted a description of the crusading journalist Jacob Riis that, Newfield wrote, "is a paragraph that when I'm 90, I hope somebody will say about me."

The paragraph was: "He not only got the news; he cared about the news. He hated passionately all tyrannies, abuses, miseries, and he fought them. He was a 'terror' to the officials and landlords responsible, as he saw it, for the desperate condition of the tenements, where the poor lived. He has 'exposed' them in articles, books, and public speeches, and with results."
John Nichols, The Nation:

Jack Newfield saw a world of heroes and villains, and he recognized that when they battled in the political arena it was the job of the journalist to go beyond merely reporting. He understood that the search for truth led, ultimately, to the point where the journalist had to take a side. He took the side of civil rights marchers, of anti-poverty crusaders, of reformers and radicals who believed that the promise of social and economic equity would be made real if the better angels of the American experiment could only be awoken by an article or a book. And so he wrote, passionately, powerfully and with a faith in the potential of a word well chosen to change the world.

Jack Newfield defined journalism for this reporter, and for thousands of others. His passing robs the craft not just of an able practitioner, but of a man who taught the rest of us that the combination of pen and ink could produce the rarest of all commodities: truth, and sometimes justice.
Michael Tomasky, The American Prospect

In addition to tracking down the ne’er-do-wells, the paper invented a new way -- shorn of the conventions of objectivity -- of talking about the good guys. Eventually, they had to coin a name for what the paper did, a name that’s still in the journalism textbooks: “advocacy journalism.” And Newfield, by and large, created it. And in doing that, he attracted protégés who became some of the country’s greatest liberal investigative journalists.
Stuart Marques, The New York Sun
Jack made his name as an investigative reporter at the Voice, when it was more about journalism and less about sexual orientation. He exposed greedy nursing-home operators, mob-tied contractors, and corrupt politicians. He was famous for his carefully crafted annual reports about the 10 worst judges in the city, or the 10 worst landlords.

But his writing also sang the song of New York; of its history, of its fabric, of the poor and helpless who live in the shadows at the financial capital of the world.

He wrote about the dangers of lead paint to children, until lawmakers started acting on it. He wrote about nursing-home parasites, until they were indicted. He wrote about companies that exploited workers, about corrupt boxing promoters who traded on fighters and then discarded them when they had lost their skills.

And he wrote about his love of New York and the honest politicians, labor leaders, and just plain folks who make it the best city in the world.
New York Sun Editorial

His own hero was Jacob Riis, the muckraker who burst onto the New York scene in the pages of the original New York Sun. While objectivity has its uses, we agreed, it was not the defining element of the journalists who tower over the field in historical terms. No, the defining element was an honest commitment to a great cause - or, as Newfield would put it, that they cared.

That is the feature that animated the newspaper life that Newfield himself led right up to the hour of his death yesterday, after a brief but valiant fight against cancer.
For four decades, at the Village Voice and later the Daily News and New York Post, Newfield stood against what he called the "permanent government." He would have none of the traditional "Chinese wall" separating reporting from advocacy.

Eve Berliner

Jack Newfield, in the end, a muckraker, a voice of conscience, a voice of sacred rage, in the tradition of Murray Kempton, his guiding light.

Bush To Poor Kids: Die Like Rats

You’d think with all of the Republican hoopla about saving the pre-born, they’d also give a shit about the already-been-born. But judging from the EPA’s rollback of rat poison regulations, once the kids have successfully navigated the birth canal, Republican politicos and their patrons in the pesticide industry are only too happy to let them get sick and die. Better that than risk harming their business by letting people think that rat poison might actually be, well, poison.

Don’t just take my word for it, read all about it at Mick Arran’s Dispatch from the Trenches :

The Class War: The EPA Rats Out Kids

In the late 90’s the EPA was working on a series of regulations to control pesticides used to kill rats—rodenticides. People—some adults but mostly kids, all of them poor—had been injesting rat poisons accidentally. A number had died. Clinton’s EPA thought that the most powerful poisons should be regulated, reserved strictly for industrial use; at the time they could be bought over the counter by anyone and used at home and nothing on the label suggested just how dangerous they were.
Then in 2000 the Supreme Court appointed Bush instead of allowing the recount in Florida that would have meant a Gore victory, and suddenly things changed. The EPA backed off the idea of regulation in the face of industry objections, and the rate of reported cases of rodenticide poisoning shot up to 60,000 by 2003, most of them kids, and most from poor families.

Sanctity of life, indeed!

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Bottom of the 9th, 2 Outs. You're up.

Koufax Award nominations end Wednesday at 5:00. If you haven't done so, please do so. Here. Or here:

Thank you for your support.

UPDATE: Confined Space is already a winner. Madeleine Begun Kane at MadKane has awarded Confined Space the The Bloggy Claustrophobia Award, whatever that means.

Reality Based Earth

Many of you may have been seeing recently the frequent use of the phrase “reality-based community.” This comes from a recent NY Times interview with a top Bush aid who ridiculed those of us who base our political views on “reality” as being part of the antiquated “reality based community.”
'We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality – judiciously, as you will – we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out.”
Columnist Molly Ivins points out that the environment may not amenable to the Bush administration’s suggestions that serious, even catastrophic problems don’t exist

Of all the problems that arise from having an administration that chooses not to believe in reality, the ones most likely to have irretrievably disastrous consequences are environmental.

The Bush solution to global warming is to declare it does not exist. While this solves the problem for him in the short term, global warming is highly unlikely to be impressed by the news that we are now an empire and can change history.

Ivins goes on to detail the Bush administration’s denial of envrinmental reality, including their recent decision to allow more sewage waste into our water and a decision to allow the Department of Defense to exempt itself from environmental laws without any public debate or congressional review.

She concludes with real scientists, who, by the nature of their work, belong to the reality based community, continue to reveal real evidence showing that global warming really exists:
Yet another study – by 300 scientists with the International Arctic Science Committee – finds:
  • Average winter temperatures in the Arctic are up by 4 to 7 degrees over the past 50 years and now projected to rise by 7 to 14 degrees over the next 100 years.
  • Polar ice during the summer is projected to decline by 50 percent by the end of this century.
  • Warming over Greenland will lead to substantial melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet, contributing to global sea level rise at an increasing rate. Greenland's ice sheets contain enough water to raise the sea level by about 23 feet.

Scientists, a reality-based bunch of empiricists if ever there was one, are in no doubt about global warming. The only question is about how fast it's happening. And many of the small minority who argue it is coming slowly are themselves in the pay of oil companies and industry groups.

As Upton Sinclair observed, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it." And that is not conspiracy-mongering. That is reality.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Just Another Disposable Worker

Michelle Starr, a reporter for the York (PA) Daily record is running a series of articles about workplace safety and workers compensation in Central Pennsylvania.

The first story is about a woman, Aimee Clauser, who worked in an assisted care facility and injured her back attempting to keep a patient from falling.

Aimee Clauser was helping a woman regain her balance at an assisted-living facility in 1998 when the woman fell backward.

Clauser, then 19, braced herself and caught the woman’s weight but felt a strange sensation race down her back.

"I knew there was something wrong," Clauser said. "I just didn’t know quite what."
What was wrong was two herniated disks, but Clauser didn't find that out until months after being shunted off to her employer-approved physician who kept insisting it was just a strained muscle.

A series of surgeries and six years later, Clauser, a single mother with a three-year old son, was "rewarded" for her dedicationn by her employer who put her on the night shift, cut off her health care and is basing her workers comp earnings on the part-time hours she works now, instead of the full time hours she worked before her injury.

Clauser finally hired an attorney, Drew Ganning who says that her health care situation is not uncommon for workers hurt on the job:

it’s not uncommon for employers to cut off coverage when a worker is hurt on the job and their new schedule does not qualify them for benefits.

The Department of Labor and Industry doesn’t require employers to provide health insurance, and rising medical costs concern employers and workers.

Maintaining health care after an accident is a growing concern for Gannon’s clients, particularly those who are primary wage-earners.

In Clauser’s case, she tried COBRA coverage for a few months for herself and her son. That insurance is offered through the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act to provide continuation of group health coverage that otherwise would be terminated.

The coverage cost of just under $300 every two weeks was just too much money. Her rent is $575 a month, and she makes $314 every two weeks.

Because she makes more than what is covered by part-time workers’ compensation, she receives no supplemental check from The Brunswick at Longstown’s insurance company for her injury.

To keep expenses down, she has postponed doctor’s visits that don’t relate to her work injury.

Clauser said it is sad to say, but the government money from Supplemental Security Income that her son receives because of a birth defect keeps the family afloat. That contributes $300 a month.

"It’s not my fault I had to go part-time,” Clauser said. “It was because of a work-related injury."
Meanwhile, one of Clauser's disks is still bulging, painfully pressing against her spinal cord.

During the last few weeks, her condition has deteriorated. She has numbness in her left leg and her left foot feels like she has an intense muscle cramp on her arch.

She suspects the bulging disk is to blame, but she’s scared to find out if the numbness means more surgeries and time away from earning money.

Clauser doesn’t want to go to the doctor.

"I don’t want to know,” she said.


This story is like deja vu for me. In 1998, when Clauser suffered her injury, I was working on the federal ergonomics standard at OSHA. We were inundated with stories like Clauser's -- women and men suffering preventable life-changing injuries that could have been prevented if their employers had taken some basic precautions that the ergonomics standard would have required. Many of those workers traveled to Washington D.C. -- some in severe pain -- to testify at OSHA hearings in early 2000 and to tell their stories to their Congressional representatives. The ergonomics standard was finally issued -- after ten years of struggle -- in November 2000.

But it turns out that most of their Senators and Congressmen didn't really care about the Aimee Clausers of this country. After a few hours of debate, Congress voted to repeal the ergonomics standard in March 2001, and the repeal bill was the first major piece of legislation signed by the newly selected President, George W. Bush. Even Clauser's "moderate, labor-friendly" Senator, Arlen Specter, didn't have the balls to support the standard.

Meanwhile, back injuries and other ergonomic hazard continue to account for one-third of all worker injuries in this country and by far the leading cause of injury for health care workers like Aimee Clauser, who this administration apparently considers disposable. OSHA has issued fewer than two dozen citations for ergonomic hazards in the past four years.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Dallas, We Have A Problem: Renegade Construction Company Kills Worker

This is one of those stories that starts out making you mad. Then furious. Then you just want to scream.

As I'm reviewing this week's Weekly Toll, I noticed this unfortunately common story:

Worker's body found in trench

Jose Cruz Morales left his Pleasant Grove home early each morning for work so he could send money back home to his mother and two sons in Mexico.

On Wednesday, the 47-year-old construction worker died while digging a trench for the sewer line of a new residential subdivision in Melissa.

The 15-foot trench collapsed, dropping a boulder, stones and dirt onto Mr. Morales.

So what else is new? Just another Hispanic worker killed in a deep unprotected trench.

Big deal.

Then there's this article reporting that Site Concrete, the company that killed employed Mr. Morales "has set up a fund for one of their employees, Jose Cruz Morales, who was killed on the job last week."

Oh, isn't that nice of them? Very caring. I'm touched.

NOT! Excuse my French, but no fucking way!

Reading further down the first article, one discovers that the Site Concrete Inc. of Grand Prairie, Texas, has been cited for at least 16 violations since 2001. Last year, Site Concrete was fined $98,000 for violating trenching and shorting standards. According to the October 30, 2003 OSHA press release:
At the time of the inspection nine workers were in a 14-foot deep trench installing storm sewers.

"This company has had eight inspections within the past three years resulting in penalties totaling almost $58,000 for similar trenching violations," said John Giefer, area director of OSHA's Corpus Christi area office. "Exposing workers to possible cave-ins is unacceptable and will not be tolerated."

The alleged serious violations include failing to adequately train employees on the hazards of working in confined spaces, failing to provide training on how to avoid trenching hazards, failing to provide hard hats for their workers and for allowing their employees to work with damaged ladders. A serious violation is one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

The alleged repeat violations include failing to conduct regular safety inspections, failing to adequately train employees on the hazards of possible cave-ins, failing to provide safe egress from a trench and not providing adequate protection from possible cave-in hazards. Workers should install a ladder or ramp for easy access and egress. A repeat violation is defined as a violation of any standard, regulation, rule or order where, upon reinspection, a substantially similar violation is found.
And it gets worse. First, the announced fines were before they were negotiated down, significantly in some cases. I checked out Site Concrete on OSHA's web site and this is what I found.(All are for trenching violations, except where otherwise noted):

  • Issuance Date 12/18/2000 (Inspection Number 303907364): Original violations totalled $15,000, reduced to $4,200.

  • 12/10/2001 (Inspection Number 304268071): Original violations totalled $8500 (no trenching), reduced to $1,950

  • 3/25/2002 (Inspection Number 304269038): Original violations totaled $13,500($12,000 trenching), reduced to $4,500

  • 3/22/2002 (Inspection Number 103628186): Original violations totaled $7500, reduced to $3500

  • 3/28/ 2003 (Inspection Number 305463465): Original and final violations totaled $5,000.

  • 1/13/2003(Inspection Number 304272826): Original violations totaled $35,000, reduced to $5,000).

  • 4/08/2003 (Inspection Number 305465023): Original violations totaled $25,000 reduced to $5,000.

  • 10/21/2003 (Inspection Number 306690165): Original violations totaled $96,800 ($74,400 trenching) reduced to 37,560 (Two were repeats)

  • 12/17/ 2003 (Inspection Number 305466856): original violations, totaled $29,000, reduced to $8,700 (one was a repeat).
Now, all of this raises a number of questions:
  1. After years of trenching violations and numerous repeat violations, why hasn't OSHA handed down a single willful citation?

  2. Why did OSHA significantly reduce the penalties over and over again despite clear evidence that the company was not cleaning up its act?

  3. Why are the owners of this company still walking the streets as free men?
Maybe the company has "good" legal Dallas attorney Tom Fee.

In setting up the fund, Site Concrete's attorney, Tom Fee, "said the company is 'devastated' by Mr. Morales' death." No doubt. But probably not quite as devastated as Mr. Moralis's wife, brother, mother, two sons and four stepdaughters.

Fee then "declined to comment further, citing the ongoing investigation and possible litigation. He said previous fines against the company are not related this incident."

Oh come on! They've been cited for every trenching standard violation in the book, the OSHA investigation has just begun, Mr. Morales's body is barely even cold, but world-renowned trenching expert Mr. Tom Fee has already determined that the "previous fines against the company are not related this incident."

Thomas W. Fee, by the way, is lead partner at the Fee, Smith, Sharp and Vitullo in Dallas, a lawfirm that specializes in defending corporate clients against OSHA citations and consumer lawsuits, a number of which are too slimy to even talk about on this web site.

Now let's revisit for a moment the statement quoted above by OSHA official John Giefer: "Exposing workers to possible cave-ins is unacceptable and will not be tolerated." Sounds like these unacceptable activities have already been tolerated for quite some time. But if we're really not tolerating them any more, what can we expect from this latest fatality? A criminal prosecution of the owners of Site Concrete, or just another fine that will be reduced to insignificance?

And if Mr. Giefer is speaking on behalf of the entire agency, can we expect the Bush admnistration to put its "political capital" where its mouth is by sponsoring legislation to put business owners in jail who willfully kill employees by placing them in situations they know to be hazardous?

Any legislators out there (in Washington D.C., or even in Austin, Texas) interested in introducing a bill into Congress calling for mandatory jail sentences for anyone cited for the willful death of a worker in a trench collapse? Anyone?

Site Concrete is also on the Texas Department of Transportation's Prequalified Contractors list which nets them lots of business. The main qualification seems to be an audited financial statement, but applicants also have to fill out a confidential questionairre in which they must certify that "the bidder’s firm and all persons associated therewith in the capacity of owner, partner, stockholder, director, officer, principal investigator, project director, manager, auditor, or any position involving the administration of any part of the firm’s operations ... have not been indicted, convicted, or had a civil judgement rendered against it or any person indicated above by a court of competent jurisdiction in any matter involving fraud or official misconduct within the past 3 years."

I'm not sure whether a civil or criminal conviction for willfully killing workers would be considered "fraud or official misconduct," or a reason for disqualification. But it should.

The Weekly Toll

Firefighters reach body of construction worker

Ventura County, CA -- Firefighters recovered the body Wednesday of a 64-year-old construction worker who plunged to the bottom of a 60-foot hole at a Ventura building site, officials said.

Between 40 and 45 people worked throughout Tuesday night before the body of Joseph Alamillo was removed about 11:45 a.m. from the bottom of the 18-inch-diameter hole, officials said.

"It was a long night," said Brian Clark, a deputy marshal with the Ventura Fire Department. "It was a long excavation, but we were able to get him out."
was unknown when Alamillo fell into the hole, but co-workers realized he was missing about 4:45 p.m. Tuesday.

Alamillo died from blunt-force chest injuries, probably not long after he fell into the hole, a coroner's investigator said.

More here.

Worker dies at country club

RALEIGH, NC -- A worker died at the North Ridge Country Club when earth-moving equipment tipped over and struck him Wednesday morning.
Kevin Michael Onstott, 27, had worked at the North Raleigh country club for about a year, General Manager James M. Fazzini said.

Onstott and another, more senior, worker were working on a landscaping project moving earth from one place to another when the bucket on a small front-end loader hit one of the workers, Fazzini said.

Police said the front-end loader tipped over and killed Onstott.

Coast Guard member dies in rescue attempt

SAVANNAH, Ga. — Search called off for former Burlington man missing in Georgia. A former Burlington man who jumped into the Savannah River to aid his girlfriend is missing and presumed dead, according to U.S. Coast Guard officials. The Savannah Chatham Police Department began searching for Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Dallas Scott, 29, formerly of Burlington, after receiving a report of a woman swimming in the Savannah River.

Man, 21, killed by compactor

Cleveland OH Investigators are looking into the death of a 21-year-old Cleveland man who was crushed to death Friday. Police said Michael Merrell of Merrill Avenue was cleaning debris near a door of a scrap-metal compactor at OWSS Co. on Campbell Road when another employee turned on the compactor from a control room. The door closed, and Merrell was struck by the machinery. The employee said he did not see Merrell until afterward. The accident happened at 12:48 p.m.

Police Officer Dies In Head-On Crash

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Foster Was An Officer For 7 Years. A Columbus police officer died early Saturday morning after her cruiser collided head-on with a pickup truck. Authorities said that Officer Melissa Foster was responding to a call at 1 a.m. when the truck crossed the center line and hit her cruiser. The 35-year-old officer was transported by helicopter to Grant Medical Center where she died.

Truck driver crushed against wall

FLA.-Police are investigating a Friday afternoon accident after a truck driver was crushed against a wall while unloading cars from a transport trailer. Police said the unidentified truck driver was unloading cars from a two-level transport trailer at the Gallery Auto Brokers, 1734 E. Grant St., when he was caught between a pickup truck and the wall of an outdoor garage.

Worker crushed by rolling log

McCLOUD, CA -- A 22-year-old Weed man was killed earlier this week in a logging accident east of McCloud, the Siskiyou County Sheriff's Department said Friday. Ruben Sandoval, an employee of Chuck L. Logging of Big Springs, was crushed Wednesday by a 2-foot diameter log he had been lying near while taking a break. It is not clear what caused the log, which was resting on two stumps uphill of Sandoval, to roll. Unable to lift the log off him, Sandoval's co-workers used chain saws to cut the log into sections that they were able to push aside. Sandoval died at the scene.

Worker dies after accident

LAND O' LAKES, Wis. (AP) -A Watersmeet man died this weekend after being injured in a workplace accident.

Thomas Sauter, 41, died Friday after severing both arms at the shoulder when he became caught in a machine, the Vilas County Sheriff's Department said. Sauter may have been pulled into the machine at the Nagel Lumber Company of Land O'Lakes when he tried to fix a jam around 8 a.m. Friday, authorities said. Sauter is survived by a wife and four children.

Worker Shot In Tampa Restaurant Dies

TAMPA, Fla. -- An employee of a Subway sandwich shop in Tampa has died of gunshot wounds from a robbery on Saturday. Danielle Miller, 22, and another female worker were shot in the robbery. The other woman is expected to survive and her identity has not been released.

Worker dead after trailer traps his head.

DeKalb,Illinois-A 31-year-old DeKalb man died early Saturday morning of head injuries sustained after being struck by a tractor-trailer Friday night. DeKalb police said a truck at Midwest Logistics, 3095 Corporate Drive, had finished unloading at a loading dock and began to pull out. A problem with the dock’s locking system caused the trailer to latch onto the dock. The truck rolled back, pinning Herminio “Antonio” Sangabriel Martinez’s head between the dock wall and trailer door, police said. Witnesses told police they heard a noise and found Martinez, a Midwest employee, had fallen into the trailer after being struck.

Hillsdale County man dies in plant accident

JACKSON, Mich. — A 27-year-old Hillsdale County man died Friday in an industrial accident at Alro Steel in Jackson, authorities said. Jackson police and the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration said third-shift foreman Brian. Gendron was crushed when a 15,000-pound steel plate slipped off a stack after he placed it there with a crane.

Nightclub employee fatally shot during altercation

Houston, TX--An employee at a northwest Houston nightclub was gunned down at work early today, police said. Tony Johnson, 41, was fatally shot shortly after 4 a.m. during an altercation with at least two other men at the 6 Figures club, 5608 Shepherd, Houston police said.

Officer Is Shot to Death in a Queens Hotel Room

New York--Rikers Island correction officer known for his generosity to friends and neighbors was shot to death early Saturday at a party in a Queens hotel room, the police said yesterday. The officer, Robert Ross, 39, was shot at 3:05 a.m. and died in Room 1009 of the Sheraton LaGuardia East hotel on 39th Avenue in Flushing, the police said. The killer escaped. Mr. Ross was unarmed, the police said, and officers recovered a gun thought to be the killer's weapon.

DeLand worker falls, dies inside chip mulcher

DeLand, FL –-A 43-year-old man was killed Tuesday afternoon when he fell into a commercial mulcher, police said. Arthur Edward Cola of DeLand was using a front-end loader to dump wood chips into the machine to be mulched and colored at K&B Landscaping Supplies, just east of DeLand, said Volusia County sheriff's spokesman Gary Davidson.

Delta Worker Struck, Killed By De-Icing Truck At Boston Airport

BOSTON -- A Delta Airlines worker was struck and killed by a de-icing truck Tuesday at Logan Airport. The 44-year-old man was walking on the tarmac around daybreak when he stepped into the path of a truck used to remove ice from aircraft, authorities said. The truck was driven by another Delta employee who had worked with the man for several years, said David Procopio, a spokesman for the district attorney's office. Henry F. Marshall Jr.,

Pilot killed in crash was early employee

SEATTLE - A pilot killed in the crash of a light plane in Renton on Sunday has been identified as John Gehlen, 40, of Seattle. Gehlen, a software engineer, was one of the first people to go to work for

Harford man killed in apparent robbery in his taxi

Baltimore Maryland -Father of 9 was shot to death one block from his home. When he wasn't driving a taxi during the overnight shift, Derald Howard Guess was sitting in on his children's classes at Magnolia Elementary in Joppa. Or serving as a popular substitute teacher at the school. Or teaching Bible study classes to young teens at his church on Sundays. Shortly after midnight Wednesday, Guess went to pick up a passenger who had called for a taxi from an Edgewood townhouse community. Moments later the 37-year-old was shot to death in a suspected robbery one block from where he lived with his wife and nine children, police said.

Driver charged in crash that killed deputy

Chicago-Police accused a motorist Monday of driving under the influence of drugs - possibly prescription medication - during a crash that killed a DuPage County sheriff's deputy bringing toys to needy children. Arcirio Rodriguez is charged with DUI, negligent driving, failure to yield right of way and failure to stop at a stop sign for the Sunday morning crash on the city's North Side. The 74-year-old Chicago man hadn't been drinking alcohol, police said, but he did have an intoxicating level of drugs within his system when driving directly into the path of the Toys for Tots charity parade.Frank J. Griseto was a regular in the annual parade. The 55-year-old Downers Grove man, who for the past year worked in the DuPage County jail, didn't have time to react and struck the car broadside.

Trash collector struck, killed in Carmel

CARMEL, New York — A 24-year-old Danbury, Conn., man was killed yesterday morning after he fell from a garbage truck and was struck by an oncoming truck in a Route 52 shopping center. Robert Forlastro, who worked for F&H Sanitation, lost his footing when he got out of the passenger side of the parked garbage truck and landed in the path of a utility truck at 8:56 a.m., Carmel police said. The New York State Electric and Gas truck was driven by James Collins, 52, of Brewster. Witnesses said the driver was pulling slowly into a parking space when he struck Forlastro, who was pronounced dead at the accident scene, Lt. Brian Karst said.

Construction Worker Dies In North Myrtle Beac

NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. --A 72-year-old construction worker from North Carolina was killed in South Carolina on Monday when he stepped through a skylight and fell about four stories. The North Myrtle Beach Public Safety Department said James McGrew, of Wilmington, was cleaning debris from the rooftop at the Sea Cabin condominiums. Authorities said McGrew died of internal injuries shortly after he fell.

Erie Man Killed When Gravel Pit Wall Gives Way

ERIE, Pa. -- An Erie man is dead after he was crushed by a rock wall that gave way while was working in an Erie County gravel pit Monday. State police in Erie said 51-year-old Donald Kuhl was killed instantly. The collapse happened at the Kuhl Sand and Gravel Company's site in Greene Township about 20 minutes before 5 p.m. State police said Kuhl's body was recovered shortly before 12:30 a.m. Tuesday. A rescuer said the worker had been operating a payloader when the collapse occurred.

NC-Utility Worker Killed on the Job

A utility worker died on the job Monday night working on power lines. It happened at about 4 o'clock in Cary on Davis Drive just south of High House Road. Cary Police say 39-year-old Daniel Rodriguez was electrocuted while working on some power lines. Rodriguez worked for a sub-contractor hired by Progress Energy. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration is investigating the accident.

Man killed on bridge
Los Angeles -- Construction worker dies after beam falls. A man working on the Lewis Street bridge was killed Tuesday afternoon when a suspended beam rolled on top of him, according to the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office. Anthony Marino, 46, of Folsom was killed in the accident, said Dr. James Falterman, Iberia Parish coroner.

Worker died from trauma, autopsy says

WI -- An investigation into the death of Mercury Marine employee Dwayne Shepro has revealed a safety guard was missing on the machinery he was using at the time of the accident, according to a Mercury Marine spokesman. “There’s a guard that should have been in place,” Communications Director Steve Fleming said in a phone interview. “This appears to have been a preventable accident had the safety mechanisms available been in place and used. An investigation of the scene showed a guard had been removed from the machine on which Mr. Shepro was believed to have been working,” he said in a statement. Final autopsy results released Tuesday confirmed that 59-year-old Shepro’s death following an accident at the plant was a result of internal bleeding caused by blunt force trauma.

Cab Driver Shot & Killed in Harford County

Edgewood, MD-The Edgewood cab driver who was shot and killed while picking up a fare early Wednesday morning was the married father of nine children and a substitute teacher. Thirty-seven-year-old Deral Guess also taught Bible study classes at his church. According to the Harford County Sheriff's office, Guess had gone to the Harford Square townhouse community to pick up a fare about 12:40 a.m. Residents heard a crash and called 9-1-1. Deputies found Guess inside his wrecked taxi with a bullet wound to the head.

JPL van plunges off road; 3 killed

Pasadena NY-- Three people were killed and seven others injured Wednesday when a packed commuter van heading to Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Canada Flintridge plunged off a winding mountain road, tumbling 300 feet into a canyon. The van was traveling south on Angeles Forest Highway at 6:15 a.m. when it failed to negotiate a bend in the road and careened over a 2-foot-high berm. Three of the commuters were dead at the scene. Two of them, Jane Frances Galloway, 49, of Lancaster, and Dorothy Marie Forks, 53, of Pasadena were JPL employees. The third, Kerri Lynn Agey, 48, worked for Wackenhut Security, a contractor for JPL.

Locals react to Ohio nightclub shooting that killed ex-Pantera guitarist

COLUMBUS, Ohio — It could have happened anywhere. Late Wednesday night, a gunman charged onstage at a packed nightclub in a Columbus, Ohio, nightclub and opened fire on the band and crowd. The gunman killed top heavy metal guitarist “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott and three other people before a police officer shot him to death, authorities and witnesses said.

Farmer recalls horror of fatal shot

MARTIN, S.D. - Brad Johnson told his awful story late Tuesday afternoon, remembering in a soft, unsteady voice the rifle shot that took a stranger's life and changed his own forever. "I have a lot of questions to God about why this thing had to happen," the 51-year-old Martin-area farmer said during a telephone interview from his home. "It's a terrible thing. It's a freak thing. To me, it's impossible that it could even happen." But it did happen last Friday afternoon, in a blurred convergence of poor judgment and fickle chance that left 39-year-old Jay Torgerson of Custer lying in the Johnson family's grain field with a fatal bullet wound in his head.

Small-plane crash kills 3 bound for Greer airport

WEST PELZER NC - Three people were killed Thursday when their small plane crashed in a rural area here about 10-15 miles from an airport. Anderson County Coroner Greg Shore said Harry Alton "Chip" Moore, 52, an Anderson business owner and his business partner, 46-year-old Brian Winstead of Anderson were killed. Scott Burdick, 43, of Greer also was killed. Both Moore and Burdick were pilots. It was not clear who was flying the plane, Shore said.

Construction Worker Dies After Hit By Motorcyclist

ORLANDO, Fla. -- A construction worker was killed early Friday morning after being hit by a motorcyclist on Colonial Drive. The construction worker was identified as Christopher Lee Webb, 30, of Bunnell. He was the father of a 1-year-old boy. Webb had just gotten out of his truck and he was getting ready to dig for samples under the pavement on Colonial.

Worker crushed at apartment construction site

IL-A construction worker was trapped and killed when three 22,000-pound slabs of concrete fell from the top tier of a six-tier parking deck that was under construction. "We do have one deceased individual... a male," McLean County Coroner Beth Kimmerling said, and added, "We're still in the process of trying to identify him." The victim was pronounced dead by Kimmerling at 3:56 p.m. after the NFD removed enough of the concrete to reach the deceased.

Man killed in peanut hull processing plant

ASHBURN, Ga.-A man was killed in an accident at a peanut hull processing plant in Turner County after he was buried by a pile of ground peanut hulls. Jonathan Escobar, 28, of Tifton, died Saturday at Bio-Plus, Inc.

Rig collapse kills one, injures two others

FENTON, La. -Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspectors are investigating what caused a drilling rig located north of Fenton to collapse, killing a Vidalia man and injuring two others. Twenty-seven-year-old Matthew Curtis Smithart died in the wreckage of the rig after it fell around him. Smithart had worked as a derrickman on the rig for about four months. Jeff Davis Parish Sheriff Ricky Edwards say Smithart was on the derrick, wearing his safety belt and harness, when it fell. He was trapped beneath the rig and a pile of pipes that had scattered when it fell. Edwards said the victim could not break free from the rig when it fell because he was still attached to the safety belt and harness.

Man falls to his death at C.P. Cogeneration Plant

Salem,NJ -- A Piscataway man fell to his death while working at the Carneys Point Cogeneration Plant here on Tuesday afternoon. During an outage at the plant, Michael Mahoney, 49, was working 30 feet off the ground on a landing when a light he was using went out, according to Det. Sgt. Ed Spinelli of the Carneys Point Police Department. Mahoney slipped and fell through an opening in the landing while attempting to turn the light back on, Spinelli said. He sustained substantial trauma to the head, and paramedics pronounced him dead on the scene.

Deadly Shooting in Restaurant

BUFFALO, N.Y. -A deadly shooting at a restaurant is shaking Buffalo's Broadway-Fillmore business to the core. News 4's Barbara Pinson has the latest from Broadway on the search for the gunman who killed a worker at a Chinese restaurant. Ernest Clinton, Owner, EC Clippers said "a sweet guy. He always speaks to me when I come in. And I just saw him last night. I went to get some shrimp fried rice last night at 9:30 and he said hi." I can't believe this happened." Ernest Clinton just heard the news this morning, that Hang Jin Lee of the Kim Thanh Chinese Restaurant on Broadway was gunned down right around Midnight.

Used-car company worker shot in head

Columbia,SC -- An employee of a used-car business was shot late Thursday in Columbia, police said. About 10 p.m., two men approached two employees at Dr. Ray’s Used Cars in the 2400 block of Dillon St., Columbia police spokesman Skot Garrick said. One employee fled when one of the two men pulled out a gun. The other was knocked to the ground and shot in the head, Garrick said. The man was taken to a local hospital, he said. His condition was not known.

Farmer killed in fiery wreck

Easton,PA-An Independence Township farmer died in car crash on Interstate 80 early Thursday morning as he drove home from his weekly egg deliveries. Joseph N. Piteo, 59, owner of Vienna Farms and Piteo Poultry Farm, was killed at 3:06 a.m. when his 1998 Ford van crashed into the back of a 2004 Mack dump truck driven by Sean F. Bernard, 41, of Budd Lake, N.J. Warren egg producer devoted to his farm and customers.

Karta worker dies of Oct. injuries

Westchester,NY One of three men injured in an October explosion at the Karta Container & Recycling plant in Peekskill died yesterday at Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla. Luis Lojano, 33, of 225 N. Division St., Peekskill, remained in critical condition in the hospital's Burn Unit for 67 days. He suffered serious burns to 81 percent of his body, according to the county medical examiner's report. The three men, all Karta employees, were using a welding torch to remove a bucket from an old backhoe shortly before 11 a.m. Oct. 4 when flames ignited a nearby tank that contained a flammable material, police said.

Construction site previously had OSHA violations

NORMAL, Ill. -Occupational Safety and Health Administration officials say the agency had previously found safety violations at a site in which a construction worker was killed this week in Normal. Twenty-four-year-old Jose Saul Martinez-Juarez died Thursday when concrete slabs came crashing down from a parking deck. OSHA acting area director Brian Bothast says since construction began on the plaza in May, OSHA has issued seven safety-violation citations. The violations were issued against two contractors, one doing foundation work and another doing electrical work at the site. According to OSHA records, the violations were settled by August. Bothast says the general contractor did not have any violations.

Two killed Friday in Douglas County

Denver,CO-The plane that plummeted nose-first into a parking lot Friday night, killing two pilots, had to make an emergency landing 15 years ago after a propeller blade fell off one of its engines, federal aviation records show. Pilot Paul Krysiak, 28, of Aurora and trainee James Presba, 25, of Lone Tree were killed Friday.

Robbers Shoot and Kill Employee at Restaurant

Los Angeles,CA-Two robbers caught on videotape as one of them fatally shot a 22 year-old Subway sandwich shop employee in Whittier remained at large today.

Joseph Molina, a Pasadena City College student studying restaurant management, was shot about 10:30 last night in the sub shop at 5416 Norwalk Blvd., Whittier police said.

Car dealership worker beaten to death on job

Charleston,SC-A car lot worker has died after he was beaten at his job, police say. Rufus Washington, 50, was at Dr. Ray's Used Cars with two co-workers Thursday night when two men came to the lot, police said. One of the suspects pulled out a gun and the other two workers fled. When they returned, they found Washington with an injury to his head, Columbia police spokesman Skot Garrick said. Washington died a few hours later, Richland County Coroner Gary Watts said.Police initially reported Washington's wound as a gunshot, but an autopsy discovered he had been beaten, Watts said.

Farmer's death brings rural community together

North Platte,NE--Somewhere between 9 and 10 a.m. Wednesday, when the frost has left the cornfields along Road 341 southeast of Madrid, dozens of combines, semis, tandem trucks and grain carts, will converge on the area. By the time darkness falls, more than 100 men and women will have picked and delivered 1,100 acres of corn awaiting harvest.The friends and neighbors and fellow farmers from the Elsie, Grant and Madrid areas who are gathering for the community corn picking are doing it for the Douglas Lee family. Lee, 48, of rural Madrid, was killed Dec. 4 in an all-terrain vehicle accident while he was rounding up cattle.

Taco Bell Worker Killed 19-Year-Old Suspect Arrested

PRUNEDALE, Calif. -- Police are investigating the killing of a restaurant worker in Prunedale over the weekend. Investigators said a teenage Taco Bell employee was killed after letting at least one man inside the restaurant after it had closed to use the restroom early Sunday. Friends of the victim, 18-year-old Brenden Tsukimura, gathered outside the restaurant Sunday. "I don't understand why they did it. He was such a good guy ... he did not deserve to die," said Kelly DiBernardo, a friend of the victim. Authorities have not said how Tsukimura died, but said a knife and a shotgun were found at the scene. Police arrested 19-year-old Cain Beltran and charged him with murder and robbery. Investigators said they believe another suspect is still at large.

Convenience store clerk shot, killed in Richmond

NORTH RICHMOND CA - A young convenience store clerk who had arrived from Yemen just this year was shot and killed in an apparent robbery Sunday morning. Contra Costa sheriff's deputies, responding to a call around 9:30 a.m., found Ahmed Qasim Rashid Khulaqi in the Golden 7 food store with several gunshot wounds, said sheriff's spokesman Jimmy Lee. Khulaqi was pronounced dead at the store, which is located on Market Avenue at Giaramita Street. Lee said Khulaqi lived in North Richmond and was believed to be 22 years old. But other area grocers said the dead clerk was in his late teens.

A Very Nice Guy' Is Gunned Down at Work

Pasadena CA - Joseph Molina is slain while handing over money to robbers at a Whittier sandwich shop. His death is among several weekend killings. On one of his recent trips to the Philippines to visit his father, Joseph Molina learned Tagalog with remarkable speed. After three months in Manila, he came home to Whittier nearly fluent, his mother said Sunday. "He made friends there that didn't know English, so he had to pick it up," said Josephine Molina. "He had that drive to learn."

2 Arrested In Murder Of Goodwill Store Employee Victim Leaves Behind Wife, Son, Grandchild

HOUSTON, TX -- Two men were arrested in connection with a deadly robbery at a southwest Houston Goodwill store, police told Local 2 Tuesday. Officials said the robbers walked into the Goodwill Select, 2703 S. Highway 6 at Richmond, at about 8 p.m. Monday and fired several shots, killing employee William Musik, 50.

Textile Worker Killed in Job-Site Explosion

A textile worker was killed early Monday when a pressurized chamber exploded and knocked him to the ground, officials said. Noel Omar Ortiz-Rodriguez, 31, of Lakewood was taken to La Palma Intercommunity Hospital, where he died of head injuries about 5:30 a.m., coroner's officials said.

Man killed in airport accident

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- A Buffalo man working on a broken overhead hangar door at Syracuse Hancock International Airport died when he fell about 25 feet, police said. Syracuse Police said Gerald Andritz, 63, was on a "scissors lift" at about 7 p.m. Monday trying to fix the door at the FedEx hangar. The door was stuck several feet off the ground and workers were trying to release it when the door released and knocked over the lift with Andritz on top, said Sgt. Tom Connellan. Andritz suffered severe head injuries, Connellan said.

St. Louis-area officer dies in accident

RIVERVIEW, Mo. - A St. Louis-area police officer was killed Tuesday when his patrol car struck a utility pole, flipped onto its top and crashed into a house before catching fire. It happened about 7:15 a.m. in north St. Louis County. The officer was identified as Brad Schultz, 29, a four-year veteran of the department who was engaged to be married.

Worker Killed by Subway on Tracks in Brooklyn

Brooklyn, NY -- A subway worker responsible for flagging train operators to get them to slow down in a work zone was himself struck and killed by a train in Brooklyn yesterday as other members of his work crew reacted in horror. It was the first fatal accident involving a transit worker this year.

The worker, identified by transit officials as Harold Dozier, 54, was struck at 1:52 p.m. by a Manhattan-bound B train on the express track near the Newkirk Avenue station, in Ditmas Park, they said, and was decapitated.

More here and here.

Monroe police search for killer in shooting death of store employee

MONROE, NC -- Police are searching for a killer after a store employee was shot to death on south Main Street in Monroe. Police said Chong Sun Kisiah, 51, was on the phone with a friend Tuesday, and what that friend heard prompted a call to police. "Some voices,” Chief Dennis McCrary of the Monroe Police Department said. “A voice in the background that caused concern, and then the phone went dead. And that's when they called and asked us to check."

Industrial accident victim dies from burns. Man loses 10-month battle for recovery when kidneys fail.

Easton,PA-A 56-year-old Bethlehem man who lost his legs after being severely burned in a Feb. 11 salvage yard accident has died. DeWayne R. Carraghan was pronounced dead Tuesday at a Lehigh Valley Hospital hospice facility in Allentown, Lehigh County Coroner Scott Grim said. His death is attributed to complications from burn injuries.

Worker killed when scaffold collapses at site of new Kent County Target store

CASCADE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) -- One construction worker was killed and another was injured when a scaffold collapsed at the site of a Target store being built just south of Grand Rapids, the Kent County Sheriff's Department said. Four men were on the scaffold when it came down about 12:30 p.m. EST Wednesday, sheriff's Sgt. Roger Parent said in a news release. One was pronounced dead at the scene and another was taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, Parent said. Their identities were not available. The other two men on the scaffold refused medical treatment.

Logger killed in Clarke County

Mobile,AL-A timber company worker was killed Monday afternoon in southern Clarke County after a log hit him, according to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The agency is investigating the death of Johnny Fox, 31, on Walker Springs Road in Barlow Bend, said acting area director Clyde Payne. He was working for Leroy Trucking Inc.

Worker at pecan company fatally crushed by large containers

TUCSON, AZ - A worker at a pecan company in Sahuarita was crushed to death by a large container knocked over by high winds, authorities said. A wind gust blew over a stack of four containers Tuesday afternoon and one container landed on the man, said Battalion Chief Rick Flores, a spokesman for the Rural/Metro Fire Department. When firefighters arrived at the Green Valley Pecan Co., the victim was in cardiac arrest and other employees were performing CPR.

1 killed, 2 rescued in crash

Phoenix,AZ-Officers sent to secure the landing site for an emergency medical helicopter watched it plummet to the ground late Tuesday before rushing into the wreckage and saving two of the three people aboard, Apache Junction police said Wednesday. The engine was still running and fuel was leaking when the three officers, two of whom witnessed the crash, pulled the pilot and a flight nurse to safety. Police couldn't reach Doreen Renee Johnson, 26, of Queen Creek, a part-time Air Evac Services Inc. flight paramedic. Johnson, a full-time Southwest Ambulance employee since August 2002, died at the scene.

Worker's body found in trench

Jose Cruz Morales left his Pleasant Grove home early each morning for work so he could send money back home to his mother and two sons in Mexico.

On Wednesday, the 47-year-old construction worker died while digging a trench for the sewer line of a new residential subdivision in Melissa.

The 15-foot trench collapsed, dropping a boulder, stones and dirt onto Mr. Morales. He remained buried for more than 17 hours until rescuers recovered his body about 8:20 a.m. Thursday, said Melissa City Administrator Douglas Box.
More here.

Worker dies after cab slides into murky lake

Miami,FL-A man died Wednesday night when he was trapped inside the cab of an excavator that slid down an embankment and into a lake. The man, who was not identified by Miami-Dade police, was working at a construction site near Northwest 87th Avenue and Interstate 75. He was using the excavator to pull rocks and fill the bottom of the lake.

Worker Killed By Earth Moving Equipment

RALEIGH NC -- A worker died at the North Ridge Country Club when earth-moving equipment tipped over and struck him Wednesday morning.Kevin Michael Onstott, 27, had worked at the North Raleigh country club for about a year, General Manager James M. Fazzini said. The incident occurred about 9:30 a.m. at the maintenance facility at the end of Foxfire Court. The N.C. Department of Labor is investigating.

Officials probing plant death

SPENCER - The Worcester County district attorney's office and the Springfield office of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration are investigating the death of a 34-year-old woman at the FLEXcon plant here. The woman - Laura Paquette of the Gilbertville section of Hardwick - was severely injured Saturday night when she was caught in a machine on which she was working. Local police and fire responded. Paquette was transported to the University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center, University Campus, in Worcester. She was pronounced dead Tuesday.

Construction Worker Killed

CHURCHVILLE, Va. _ A construction worker from Highland County was killed in a road construction accident near Churchville.

Corporal D-S Lotts with the Augusta County Sheriff's Office says 19-year-old Robert Hull died yesterday after the grader he was driving turned over in a ditch and he was trapped underneath. According to Lotts, the grader hit a place where the ground was loose. Hull was working for Plecker Construction Company, a subcontractor on a Virginia Department of Transportation project to widen U-S 250 near Churchville. Lotts says the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry is investigating the death, along with the sheriff's office.

Man dies in storage facility fire, arson suspected

Houston,TX -- Firefighters are investigating a deadly fire at a southwest Houston self-storage company late Thursday night. It happened in the 4100 block of Greenbriar. When firefighters arrived they found the body of a 50-year-old man in his apartment at Shurgard Storage. He was an employee who lived on site. What they found in addition to the body caught the attention of police. Arson investigators found scorch marks around the apartment, which indicates that someone may have set the fire intentionally. Most of the smoke and fire was contained to the second-floor apartment, while the other storage units were undamaged.

Worker Killed When Scaffold Collapses At Construction Site

KENT COUNTY Grand Rapids,MI -- A construction worker is dead, another worker injured after a some scaffolding collapsed at the new Target store in Cascade Township. There were four men working on the scaffolding when it blew over. Witnesses say plastic used to protect the scaffolding caught the wind like a sail. Police say 30-year old David Scott of Ionia died at the scene.
More here and here.

Homeless man charged with killing Queens bridge painter who gave him money, food

When the painters showed up to work on a Queens overpass this week, they found a homeless man living beneath the span. On the first day, they gave the man a dollar; the next day, they handed him a sandwich. On the third day, he repaid their kindness by pulling a .45-caliber handgun and fatally shooting one of them, then calmly lit a cigar and waited for police to arrive, authorities said Thursday. "I shot the (expletive)," defendant Stephen Boyd allegedly told police before his arrest along the Grand Central Parkway near Shea Stadium.

Worker Killed In Overnight Shooting

DENVER -- Denver police are investigating an overnight shooting that left a bartender dead.

The shooting occurred around 2 a.m. at Sebastian's Grill at Broadway and Bayaud. Witnesses say a gunman fired from the sidewalk into the bar. A bullet struck the bartender and he died a short time later, police said.

Worker Killed By Cinder Blocks

TAMPA - A worker at a local business was killed when a pair of cinder blocks fell on him Thursday morning. About 9:15 a.m., the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office and county Fire Rescue crews responded to Florida Rock, 5609 N. 50th St. Harold M. Jones Jr., 50, of 2903 Paul Buckman Highway in Plant City, was taken to Tampa General Hospital with serious injuries. He was pronounced dead about 11 a.m., sheriff's spokeswoman Debbie Carter said. Carter said the blocks fell on Jones' back and legs. More here.

Pizza deliveryman killed in crash

Mohammad Ismail's drive home from work Saturday night should have been short. But he never made it. The 49-year-old died Sunday night at University Medical Center after his van was hit by a driver who police say had been drinking. Ismail lived almost across the street from the Domino's Pizza at 2624 E. 22nd St., where he worked as a delivery driver, police said. To get home, he had to turn right onto 22nd and make a U-turn at South Treat Avenue.

Teen charged with killing clerk in botched robbery

A 16-year-old was charged with stabbing to death a convenience store clerk during a robbery Tuesday. Authorities said the boy, who lives in Blackwood, entered the Country Farm Market store on Warwick Road around 9:30 a.m. and attempted a robbery with a kitchen knife. The clerk, Suraj Gulabani, 21, whose family owns the store, fought back and was stabbed in the struggle, authorities said. He was taken to Kennedy Memorial Hospital in Stratford, where he died shortly after 10 a.m.

Tow truck driver killed while working on Interstate 95

An Elkridge tow truck driver was killed Thursday night when he was hit by a pickup truck while assisting another motorist on Interstate 95 in Howard County, state police said. About 11:30 p.m. Thursday, Brian E. Helton, 47, responded to an accident on the shoulder of the northbound ramp to eastbound Route 100, police said. While Helton worked behind his tow truck, he was hit by a Ford Ranger, police said.

Construction worker killed in accident ID'd

A construction worker who was killed in an accident at a construction site on Tuesday has been identified by the Riverside County Sheriff-Coroner's Office. David Trask, 50, of Running Springs was killed when he was run over by a cement truck that was backing up at a construction site at Via Montelena.

Western Iowa farmer killed in tractor accident

PIERSON, Iowa-A man was killed when the tractor he was operating overturned and pinned him on his rural Pierson farm, authorities said. Robert M. Benedix, 66, was driving the tractor Friday in a corn stubble field, which is on a steep incline, Woodbury County Sheriff's Sgt. Doug Boetger said.

Police identify dead trucker

EATON, Ohio - A trucker killed when he was trapped between his semi and a loading dock Wednesday has been identified as Steve Nisonger, 41, of Greenville.