Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Coal: An Outlaw Industry

Louisville Courier-Journal columnist David Hawpe says the coal is an outlaw industry.

Coal industry lobbyist Kim Nelson says Hawpe wants to shut down the industry. "He thinks I should be first in line for blame when coal trains stop delivering to the power plants, the turbines quit spinning and the lights go out."

Hawpe, who has coal miners on his mother's side and coal owners on his father's says he never wanted to shut down mines. "I just wanted my dad's family to get the royalty checks without killing off my mom's."

When the Sago mine in West Virginia blew up, killing 12 men, Bruce Watzman of the National Mining Association suggested the operation's safety record wasn't all that bad. It had received 200 citations last year, almost half of them for "serious and substantial" violations. He didn't consider it "particularly out of the ordinary."

Only an outlaw industry would consider such persistent negligence unremarkable.

Need more examples?
The Charleston Gazette's Ken Ward reviewed federal records and reported, "Managers of the Sago Mine repeatedly ignored or simply missed hazardous roof conditions and dangerous buildups of combustible materials during required safety checks."

Yet mine owner Wilbur L. Ross Jr. claimed, in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy, "As you know, we have an extremely good safety record. We have gotten a lot of awards."

And one more.

Consider Massey Energy, whose revenues make it the nation's fourth-largest producer. CEO Don Blankenship recently warned his deep mine superintendents, "If any of you have been asked by your group presidents, your supervisors, engineers or anyone else to do anything other than run coal (i.e., build overcasts, do construction jobs, or whatever), you need to ignore them and run coal. This memo is necessary only because we seem not to understand that the coal pays the bills."

Overcasts are essential to provide fresh air in some mines.

But, then, in an outlaw industry, that wouldn't matter.

US Mines: Good or Bad or Who Knows?

Can both of these statements be true?

U.S. mines called safest in world, but can do better

U.S. miners say safety gear lags behind that of other countries

On one hand, other countries seem to do better keeping their miners alive:
Dennis O'Dell once believed U.S. coal mines were the world's safest. Now he's not so sure.

Lately, he's seen an Australian device that can track miners underground and another that can send them messages. He's read about Canadian potash miners who survived a fire inside an airtight chamber packed with food, water and oxygen.

U.S. companies use the world's most sophisticated equipment to dig coal, but O'Dell, health and safety administrator for the United Mine Workers of America, now wonders if the same can be said of the gear used to keep the miners themselves safe.
But on the other hand, at least we're better off than China:
Coal mine accidents in China, the world's top producer, kill an average of 16 workers a day.

"Overall, U.S. mine health and safety - it's still the envy of the world," says Raja Ramani, a professor of mining engineering at Penn State University.

"In many ways, experts say the U.S. coal industry is the model to emulate, with safety laws on the books, a federal agency charged with enforcing them and well-funded, health-oriented research."
But on the other hand, no one really knows what's going on.

According to an article in today's Wall St. Journal (paid subscription), MSHA recordkeeping makes it difficult to monitor trends in mine hazards.
  • According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), MSHA doesn't collect injury or enforcement data on "independent contractors" who work in mines, although fatality data is collected. And the problem is growing. The GAO said 18% of underground coal miners worked for contractors in 2002, up from 13% in 1993.

  • Safety information is organized by individual mine operators instead of by parent companies, making it hard to judge a company's performance.

  • MSHA's website lists proposed penalties, but figuring out what is actually assessed is tough.

  • MSHA's databases contain "information on accidents that were investigated, not all mine accidents," according to GAO

OSHA Issues Weak Hexavalent Chromium Standard: "Workers Will Die"

Facing a court-ordered deadline, OSHA has issued its long-awaited standard to reduce workers' exposure to cancer-causing hexavalent chromium. Unfortunately, the standard represents a major victory for industry as OSHA lowered the standard from 52 micrograms of chromium per cubic meter of air to 5 micrograms, after originally proposing to a 1 microgram limit in 2004.

The new standard comes less than a week after an article revealed that scientists working for the chromium industry withheld data showing that even very low level exposures cause cancer.

Exposure to hexavalent chromium compounds can cause lung cancer, nasal septum ulcerations and perforations, skin ulcerations, and allergic and irritant contact dermatitis. A variety of related compounds are used in the chemical industry as ingredients and catalysts in pigments, metal plating and chemical synthesis. Chromum VI can also be produced when welding on stainless steel or surfaces painted with the chemical.

Public Citizen, which filed the lawsuit that eventually forced the agency to issue the standard, called the new regulation "seriously inadequate" and announced that it would file a lawsuit challenging the new limit.
For 13 years, Public Citizen has campaigned for a permissible exposure limit of .25 micrograms per cubic meter. The agency itself estimates 10 to 45 lung cancer deaths per 1,000 workers over a lifetime at the 5 micrograms per cubic meter level (compared to the .53-2.3 deaths per 1,000 workers over a lifetime at the Public Citizen-requested standard of .25 micrograms per cubic meter). Even the now-abandoned 1 microgram level proposed by OSHA in October 2004 would have led to 2.1-9.1 lung cancer deaths per 1,000 workers over a lifetime. Thus, hundreds of extra lung cancer deaths will occur if the weak OSHA-proposed standard is allowed to stand.

According to the Washington Post,
The agency cited technical challenges to achieving lower exposures and effects on the industry's bottom line as the main reason for going with the five-microgram limit instead of the one-microgram limit it had initially proposed.

"After a careful analysis, we determined that . . . five is the lowest level that is feasible both technologically and economically," said Jonathan L. Snare, acting assistant secretary of labor for OSHA, speaking to reporters on a conference call.
Public Citizen disputed Snare's arguments:
The great majority of chromium-exposed workers work at sites that are already in compliance with the new proposed standard. OSHA has denied additional protections to these workers apparently because it may be more difficult for a small minority of employers to meet a lower standard. This lowest common denominator approach to rulemaking – in which all chromium-using sectors need only meet the standard that can be met by the sector with the greatest difficulty complying with a stronger standard – leaves OSHA highly vulnerable to a court challenge because the agency has failed to set a limit that eliminates significant health risks to the maximum extent technologically and economically feasible in each affected industry, as required by law.
Meanwhile, despite winning this round, industry representatives pulled out the same old tired script they use whenever OSHA issues a new standard:
"This is going to cause significant upheaval within our industry," said Kate McMahon-Lohrer, a lawyer with Collier Shannon Scott, speaking for the stainless steel industry. She said OSHA vastly overestimated the percentage of companies already complying with the new standard and underestimated the rule's cost.

"This will cause a significant number of factory closures or outsourcing to foreign soils, and it will have a very real impact on import penetration in this country's steel markets," McMahon-Lohrer predicted.
(As we noted last week, this sickenly familiar industry refrain makes for great job blackmail, but is not backed by fact. The cost of every OSHA standard studied has fallen way below industry -- and OSHA -- estimates.)

Of course, these days industry doesn't have much opportunity to sow fear throughout the land. The hexavalent chromium standard is the first chemical standard that OSHA has issued since 1997.
"OSHA chemical standards are so rare it's like Halley's Comet," said David Michaels, a George Washington University professor of public policy who, with [Public Citzen's Peter] Lurie, led a recently published study indicating that industry-sponsored scientists had withheld and manipulated data about chromium's toxicity in an effort to influence OSHA's deliberations.

Mike Wright, director of health, safety and environment for the United Steelworkers, accused the industry of "playing fast and loose with the data on risk" and said "many dedicated public servants" at OSHA were increasingly being overruled by political appointees beholden to business.

"The consequence of OSHA's decision," Wright said, "will be that workers will die."

Related Stories

Sago Fines Minimized By Undercounting Endangered Miners

Here's a math question for you.

If an explosion occurs in a mine where dozens of miners are working and the exits are blocked, how many miners are endangered?

According to the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), the answer is one.

One of the astonishing facts that emerged following the Sago mine disaster was the high number of fines issued by MSHA that only amounted to $60, despite the seriousness of the violations.

A front page USA Today article today explains that that reason for the low fines is that MSHA assumed that only one miner was endangered. The more miners that are endangered in any violation, the higher the fine -- into the thousands of dollars.
In 90% of Sago's violations in 2004 and 2005, inspectors said one person was endangered, according to a USA TODAY analysis of MSHA inspection reports. The agency declined to discuss the violations, saying they "will be examined" during an internal review of its oversight of Sago before the explosion.


The federal agency's pattern of finding a single person endangered by most hazards "is the most narrow interpretation of safety law you can take," says former MSHA senior adviser Tony Oppegard. "That's not how the mine act should be interpreted."
Examples of violations that received low fines because they allegedly endangered only one person included blocked emergency exits, chemical smoke, and unsafe accumulations of explosive coal dust.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Immigration To Impersonate OSHA Only If National Security Threatened

OK, so if Osama Bin Laden or some of his buddies sneak onto a military base as undocumented construction workers, and the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) thinks they might be likely to take a break from plotting the downfall of Western Civilization to attend OSHA training, they might then -- and only then -- again use the tactic of imitating OSHA personnel to nab the terrorists.

Or at least that's what ICE officials are telling Occupational Hazards.

ICE officials admit that the North Carolina raid last Summer, where they invited undocumented workers to a phony OSHA training, was a mistake because they didn't coordinate with OSHA or get the agency's permission.
What recent media reports have focused on is ICE's position that it will not completely rule out such ruses in the future.

"As a general rule we don't anticipate using such a ruse again with any regularity," [ICE spokesperson Dean]Boyd said. "However – and this is unfortunate – were there some sort of national security threat or extreme situation – I can't hypothesize what may occur in the future – it might be something we would contemplate."

As a hypothetical example of such "a grave criminal matter or national security matter," Boyd said ICE might consider using the OSHA ruse "were there a terrorist working in a facility and the only way to lure that person to a location where he or she could be safely arrested were such a ruse."

"But, obviously, we would not go forward without the prior coordination and approval of OSHA and the Department of Labor," Boyd said.
After all, Boyd argued,
Ruses in general are a "tried and true law enforcement technique."

"Any given day there are police departments and law enforcement agencies throughout the country posing as teenagers on the Internet to locate and arrest pedophiles," Boyd said. "That's a ruse."
Uh, yeah, Dean, nice try. But there's a slight difference. Impersonating a pedophile nabs pedophiles. And if pedophiles suspect that the "teenagers" they're making contact with aren't real teenagers -- maybe they'll stop soliciting on the web, also arguably not a bad thing.

Impersonating OSHA officials, on the other hand, may nab illegal immigrants, but if word gets out that OSHA officials may actually be the migra in disguise, immigrants will be discouraged from looking for legitimate safety training or filing complaints with the agency -- which may lead to their injury or death -- a bad thing.

In any case, all the attention being paid to this issue seems to be paying off. At least now they're promising to ask OSHA's permission.

Related Articles

The Passing Of Tom Barrett

This is from James August, who runs AFSCME's health and safety program. I knew Tom when I was at AFSCME. It was people like him who made all of the endless struggles seem worthwhile.
Late last night I checked my email and read a message informing me of the death of Tom Barrett the previous day. Tom was a carpenter at the University of Maryland – College Park Campus and a member of AFSCME Local 1072. He died at the age of 61 from complications due to his exposure to asbestos at work.

I am deeply and profoundly saddened by Tom’s passing. Even though he has had asbestosis for many years, it is still a shock. Tom made a HUGE impact on me. Tom's courage, persistence, dedication, intelligence, commitment and humanity were an inspiration for me. When he became aware that he was being exposed to asbestos and the consequences of that exposure, he became active and would not be turned away. He went through many hours of union health and safety training and absorbed everything. More importantly, he applied his experience and knowledge in unwavering fashion. He probably was not aware of how much he taught me and others. Tom became an employer’s worst nightmare. He was relentless in his determination to change the way his employer disregarded the health of its workers – and he was effective. He became the local union’s health and safety chair, and later served as Vice President. In his understated and unassuming way he fought back for himself and for others, whether it was regarding asbestos, other safety and health issues, or concerns about basic fairness on the job. It is through the efforts of Tom and people like him that we make progress in trying to safeguard worker and public health, bring a measure of decency, and advance social justice in our workplaces and society. Tom’s death is a reminder of the steep price that workers pay in this country and elsewhere for any slight improvements that are made.

After reading the email I stayed up and watched a videotape from the 1991 OSHA Asbestos Rulemaking and watched the case that we presented on behalf of AFSCME. Tom was one of three AFSCME workers that testified, along with doctors Phil Landrigan and Christine Oliver, in support of a building inspection requirement and stricter equipment, procedures, training, and other measures to prevent exposure to asbestos, particularly for custodians, building maintenance, other service workers and occupants. I watched Tom present his story - soft spoken but firm and clear - in which he described how he and so many others were needlessly exposed to and harmed by asbestos. Tom didn’t have to be loud to be heard. His actions were even more convincing.

I will miss Tom greatly. So many that never even knew him will also.

Must Read: "Reflections On A 4-Year Labor Strike"

Reflections on a 4-Year Labor Strike, is a powerful essay contributed to the Daily Kos website yesterday about a woman's experiences during her stepfather's four year labor strike in the late '80s.

It's particularly important reading these days as union strength declines at the same time workers need representation most. It gives meaning to the words "solidarity" and "struggle," and exposes that lie that 'unions might have served a purpose in the olden days, but in these modern times....."

Read it and pass it on.

So it begins:
When I was a freshman in high school in a little town in northern Wyoming, my stepdad, one of 200+ union mine workers at a nearby mine, voted to strike at 12:01 AM on October 1st, 1987. It was a strike that would last four years and in the process, change our family, our town, and our futures forever.

From the day he started working in his first mine, he'd been a union member. He believed in unions as surely as he believed in the Bible, and preached the virtues of the labor movement like it was the Word of God. By the time he met my mom, he was a strike captain in the United Mine Workers of America, Local #1972. He was also a hardcore Democrat and as far as he was concerned, union and Democrat were one and the same: they both champion the little guy, the one who doesn't have the advantage of wealth or power or fame, they both value the integrity of hard work, they both trust in the power of the ordinary to do extraordinary things...they both believe that together, we are mighty.

And so it ends
I think sometimes, especially in the first couple of years after the strike ended, my parents and the rest of the striking miners and their families probably looked back on the strike and wondered what they'd been fighting for, considering how it all turned out. What had they accomplished, really? All that sacrifice and heartache...for what?

For the future, is the answer. Watching my parents' struggle, this fight that seemed so impossible, we learned first-hand just what it really means to stand up for what you believe in. The words are easy to say and talk, as they say, is cheap. But when it comes down to it, to gambling your future, your family's future, on a principle and a trust in the people who share your beliefs, the actual act of standing up, fist held high, is one of the most courageous things you can ever do.


I've always been an activist at heart, either because of the way I was raised or the way my DNA lined up or a combination of both. But in the years since the strike, my natural tendency to tilt at windmills has been tempered by the understanding of what it means: you fight every day, not because of what you hope to achieve, but because it's the right thing to do. You'll never be guaranteed a win, no matter how righteous your cause; fighting the good fight doesn't mean you get a happy ending. But you fight for what's right anyway, because it's what's right. And if you're very, very lucky, others will stand to fight alongside you. This is how great changes happen.
Now go read the whole thing. You'll be glad you did.

Only In Ohio: Momma Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Republicans

This has absolutely nothing to do with workplace safety, labor or most other things that I write about, but I couldn't resist.

Ohio lawmaker to propose ban on GOP adoption
Knight Ridder Newspapers

AKRON, Ohio - If an Ohio lawmaker's proposal becomes state law, Republicans would be barred from being adoptive parents.

State Sen. Robert Hagan sent out e-mails to fellow lawmakers late Wednesday night, stating that he intends to "introduce legislation in the near future that would ban households with one or more Republican voters from adopting children or acting as foster parents." The e-mail ended with a request for co-sponsorship.


Hagan said his legislation was written in response to a bill introduced in the Ohio House this month by state Rep. Ron Hood, R-Ashville, that is aimed at prohibiting gay adoption.


To further lampoon Hood's bill, Hagan wrote in his mock proposal that "credible research" shows that adopted children raised in Republican households are more at risk for developing "emotional problems, social stigmas, inflated egos, and alarming lack of tolerance for others they deem different than themselves and an air of overconfidence to mask their insecurities."

However, Hagan admitted that he has no scientific evidence to support the above claims.

Just as "Hood had no scientific evidence" to back his assertion that having gay parents was detrimental to children, Hagan said.
Dems may have lost the House, Senate, Supreme Court and the Presidency, but we haven't lost our sense of humor.

(Hat tip Lying Media Bastards)

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Meanwhile, Behind The Headlines....

OK, so I'm sitting here waiting for the headlines, the CNN special reports, the Congressional hearings, the promises to toughen the safety laws and increase penalties.

And waiting, and waiting...

Jan 28, 2006

Two rescued from cave-in: Workers frantically dig to extricate men

A welding mask may have saved the life of a Pocahontas man buried alive at 2:45 p.m. Friday after a wall of dirt trapped him and a co-worker in a trench on Highway 62 East near Mallard Point Road.

Emergency personnel pulled 33-year-old Rodney Smith and co-worker Jay Davis from a 10-foot trench and immediately transported them to Baxter County Regional Medical Center for treatment.

February 1, 2006
Trench collapse injures one

North Haven, CT-A trench collapse in North Haven sends one person to the hospital.

The trench collapsed when a ditch was being dug for a pipe in an industrial area of Sackett Point Road and one worker was injured.

February 2, 2006
Man Dead After Trench Collapses In Bloomfield Hills

A man is dead after a construction trench collapsed in Bloomfield Hills Wednesday afternoon.

Bloomfield Hills police said the man was working on an exterior wall of a basement in a house on Pinegate Street, near Woodward and Long Lake.

February 18, 2006
Trench's collapse kills plumber

JAMES CITY -- The plumber who died Wednesday morning at a construction site after a trench collapsed was buried for nearly 38 minutes before rescuers could get to him.

Timothy Allen Stanfield, 25, of Daybreak Circle in Newport News was installing water and sewer lines for a new house in the Stonehouse subdivision when the trench's walls gave way.

Feb 21, 2006
Reno man becomes second person to die in trench collapse

Reno, NV -- A Reno man died at a hospital today, four days after he was buried in a trench collapse at a golf course.

39-year-old Travis Cruz became the second person to die in the accident at Reno's Somersett Golf Course. A co-worker, Clayton Gregory of Redding, California, died in the cave-in Tuesday.

A third worker, Anthony Smith of Reno, was trapped for nearly four hours before being rescued.

February 24, 2006
Firefighters rescue two workers trapped in trench collapse

MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. Firefighters in Mount Pleasant have rescued two men trapped in a trench collapse.

February 26, 2006
Worker dies after pit collapses

SAN BERNARDINO - A construction worker on the Interstate 210 extension project died Saturday when a hole being excavated collapsed around him.

[Capt. Mike Bilheimer of the San Bernardino Fire Department] said two workers were installing trench boxes about 30 feet down in a hole wider than a tractor-trailer when the north side of the hole collapsed. One worker escaped, but the other was buried.

Meanwhile, in the "Why are these guys still walking the earth as free men" Department...

WEST CHESTER, OH - A West Chester construction company was hit today with nearly $200,000 in additional fines for alleged violations of federal workplace health and safety standards.

The fines are the second time in two months the company has been fined for unsafe conditions.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced today that it is proposing $194,250 more in fines against the Sunesis Construction Company following inspections at three trenching sites opened between August and October 2005.

These guys are particularly infuriating. Sunesis is a big, well established company that gets lots of government contracts. There's no excuse for killing two men or their repeated neglect of well-recognized safety standards. So is $400,000 just payment for the lives of two men, and the reckless endangerment of many others? Will it deter others from comitting the same crimes?

I'd say a little hard time rotting in the state pen might send a clearer message.

And then there these...

Safety Administration Charges Contractor in Trench Fatality

A worker died in a trench collapse in the construction zone at Elm Hill Pike under Briley Parkway back in December. Now the Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration (TOSHA) has cited the Mt. Juliet Contractor.

TOSHA completed its investigation of a workplace accident that resulted in a fatality on December 1, 2005. The report cites Mountain States Contractors LLC and its successors located in Mt. Juliet, and they’ve been fined $147,200.

The company has been cited with both willful and serious violations. Willful violations are issued when an employer has shown intentional disregard of the requirements of the Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.

Company fined for deadly ditch accident

SANDPOINT, ID -- A Sandpoint excavation company has negotiated a settlement with federal labor safety regulators over a utility line trench cave-in which killed a Sagle man last summer.

Tucker Excavation & Pipeline must develop and implement an excavation safety program and pay nearly $19,000 in fines for safety violations, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Yeah, $19,000 out have 'em shaking in their boots.

"Just letting people die like dogs" 9/11 Dust Fatalities Continue to Climb

The toll of 9/11 is still climbing. Last month, James Zadroga, a 34-year-old New York City police detective, became one of at least a dozen Ground Zero workers who have died of a respiratory disease they contracted during rescue and recovery operations at the World Trade Centers.
More than four years after hijackers rammed passenger jets into the twin towers, at least a dozen people who worked at Ground Zero have died of diseases attributed to the witch's brew of deadly chemicals and toxic substances that filled the air at the disaster site.

Thousands of other Ground Zero workers are suffering from serious respiratory ailments. The victims include police officers, firefighters, construction workers and even immigrant laborers. Some call these forgotten men and women the "walking dead."

James Zadroga became the first NYPD officer to die as a direct result of exposure to Ground Zero's cocktail of chemicals, said Michael Palladino, president of the Detectives' Endowment Association.

"I do not think he will be the last, unfortunately," Palladino said.
Zadroga, whose wife had died of heart disease a year earlier, was a strong 6 feet 2 man, weighing more than 260 pounds before getting sick:
But the last four years offered a picture of a different man. Shortly after finishing his rescue and recovery work at the World Trade Center, Zadroga developed a chronic cough, shortness of breath and acid reflux. He was plagued by nightmares and headaches. Within months, he needed oxygen tanks, antibiotics and steroid injections on a regular basis.
Zadroga wasn't just killed by his more than 450 hours working in the witches brew of toxic dusts resulting from the collapse of the World Trade Centers, he was also screwed by the NYPD:
While Zadroga was losing the battle with his lungs, he was also losing a fight with the city. In March 2002, James filed a line of injury report with the NYPD, documenting his labored breathing and persistent cough. The report proved worthless, his parents say.

Joseph Zadroga says the NYPD never acknowledged his son's condition until it was too late. James was often forced to report to work — over a two-hour drive from his suburban New Jersey home — when he couldn’t even walk up the stairs, his father says.

"He felt the loss not only from being sick but by the treatment of the police department," he said. "He felt abandoned."


"They’re just letting people die like dogs," said Joseph Zadroga. "They’re treating them like a number and letting them die."
Zadroga wasn't to the first and he won't be the last to die in the aftermath of the Ground Zero recovery efforts:
Zadroga was one of many "walking dead." Estimates vary, but tens of thousands of workers and residents have reported some lingering effects from Ground Zero exposure. Of the roughly 70,000 people currently enrolled in Mount Sinai's World Trade Center health study, more than 60,000 suffer some kind of respiratory problem.

Dr. David Prezant, co-director of the New York Fire Department's World Trade Center medical program, conducted a lung function study of 13,000 firefighters, EMTs and paramedics. He said that after Sept. 11, the average breathing capacity of the people tested dropped more than 11 times the normal aging process.
A federal judge found that former Environmental Protection Agency administrator Christie Todd Whitman deliberately mislead the public when she reassured the public after the collapse of the World Trade Centers that the air was safe to breathe in lower Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Heck of a job, Christie.

Hat tip to Susie at Suburban Guerrilla for this.

Nuclear Veterans: "A Gross Breach Of Faith"

Uncle Sam Giveth, Uncle Sam Taketh Away...

Thousands of Americans working in the nation's weapons labs throughout the Cold War were exposed to radiation and a number of other toxic compounds, resulting in cancers and other fatal and disabling disases. Until the late 1990's their exposures and diseases were ignored and denied by federal authorities. Finally, during the Clinton administration, the federal government recognized the contributions made -- and the price paid -- by these Cod War veterans. In 2000, Congress passed the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Act (EEOICPA) which established a compensation program for former nuclear workers.

Former employees who had worked in certain plants where exposure to high levels of radiation was well recognized, and who had contracted certain types of cancer, automatically received $150,000. These are called "Special Exposure Cohorts (SECs)." Workers in plants where exposures may have varied were forced to gather their exposure records, with the help of the Department of Energy, and have their radiation dose "reconstructed" by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to determine if their cancer had been caused by their exposure. Where workers in certain facilites found it impossible to reconstruct their dose, Congress established an Advisory Board on Worker and Radiation Health the authority establish additional Special Exposure Cohorts which would make workers at those facilities automatically eligible for compensation.

Two weeks ago, the Associated Press noted a small paragraph in the Bush Administration's budget documents that indicated that White House budget officials were proposing to
take steps to limit costs associated with a benefits program for Cold War-era nuclear workers who developed cancer from radiation exposure, according to a White House document.

The working group will discuss whether "administration clearance" should be required before groups of workers are deemed eligible for compensation, the document said.
According to Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA),
"This is a gross breach of faith," said Harkin. "Nuclear workers all across the country have been dragged through years of public hearings and investigations. They have played by the rules, and are closer to finally getting the compensation Congress said they deserve. This is wrong. It is putting bureaucracy before science. It is putting bureaucracy before simple fairness for people who served their country loyally and at great risk."
Ames Lab workers in Iowa, as well as facilities in Colorado, Tennessee and the Marshall Islands are under consideration to be included in the SEC.

Even Republicans are upset at the Administration's proposal:
Rep. John Hostettler R-Ind., who chairs a House Judiciary subcommittee that oversees claims issues, said he would hold hearings on the compensation program.

Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., decried attempts to alter the program, saying, "Any effort by Department of Labor bureaucrats to limit these benefits would be a true injustice to these workers, their families and their memory."
Meanwhile a report released last week by a Department of Labor Ombudsman found that although over $1.5 billion had been paid to nuclear veterans, thousands of former employees were having serious problems
with a requirement that they obtain workplace records, some of which are more than 50 years old. In many cases, the report said, records "were not maintained at the time of exposure, or if made, were lost or destroyed."

In addition, workers thought the government takes too long to estimate how much radiation workers were exposed to.

"Otherwise eligible claimants may die while waiting for a result," the report said.

Workers also complained that claims examiners failed to return calls and that their cases were reassigned to new examiners unfamiliar with their histories.
The full report can be found here.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

700 Killed By Industrial Pollution. Yawn.

Yesterday, Confined Space. Today, the Washington Post. Tomorrow...Confined Space

Washington Post, February 16, 2006, Page B4
Study Links 700 Deaths Yearly to Md. Plants
Effects on Health Of Burning Coal Felt Widely, Report Says

By Elizabeth Williamson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 16, 2006; Page B04

Pollution from Maryland's six largest coal-burning power plants contribute to 700 deaths each year, including 100 deaths in Maryland, according to a Harvard University study released yesterday.

The study was sponsored by the Maryland Nurses Association, which supports a bill in the legislature that would require such plants to sharply reduce pollution over the next decade.
Today's Washington Post, Letter to the Editor:
Burying 700 Dead

If an industrial accident had killed 700 people, it would be front-page news in not only The Post but in newspapers across the country and the world. How is it, then, that a study linking 700 deaths every year to six Maryland power plants only merits Page B4 in the Metro section ["Study Links 700 Deaths Yearly to Md. Plants," Feb. 16]?

-- Jordan Barab

Takoma Park

Friday, February 24, 2006

Chromium Coverup Story: A Bone To Pick...

I reported yesterday about the chromium industry's cover-up of evidence that low levels of hexavalent chromium can cause cancer in workers. Most of my story was based Rick Weiss's Washington Post article. After rereading the story today, I have a small bone to pick with Weiss. This is from his article:
OSHA has not said what the new limit will be. But sources close to the agency have been told to expect a standard that would allow five times more exposure than it had initially proposed -- a shift that would be a victory for the industry, saving it billions of dollars in upgrades and plant closures.
Who says that the lower OSHA limit would "save the industry billions of dollars in upgrades and plant closures?" The chromium industry itself, that's who.

Here we have a case of a journalist swallowing and regurgitating industry propaganda as if it were fact. Maybe it was my head cold, or maybe it was the jet lag, or maybe it was written in such a matter-of-fact tone -- but I totally missed it when I was writing my piece last night.
Should we believe these scare tactics? I think not.

OSHA has never proposed a standard where the regulated industry has not claimed that the sky would fall, bankruptcy would loom, billions of dollars would be wasted and jobs would be lost if OSHA succeeded in issuing its dasterdly standards. I've sat through dozens of OSHA hearings and read the transcripts and propaganda generated by dozens more. And just as assuredly as the sun rises in the East each morning the industry predicts doom and damnation -- not just for their noble industry, but for the entire American way of life, if not western civilization.

So what are the facts?

A 1995 study by the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) studied several OSHA regulations, all of which showed the exact same thing: industry's predicted costs are always overestimated:. 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.
In other words, whatever you want to say about the hazardous products or political objectives of American industry, one thing you have to give them is that they're incredibly creative in developing new and innovative technologies. If only they had more confidence in themselves. Maybe therapy would help.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

SHOCKED! Chromium Industry Suppresses Data, Hides Risks

Well this is certainly surprising:
Scientists working for the chromium industry withheld data about the metal's health risks while the industry campaigned to block strict new limits on the cancer-causing chemical, according to a scientific journal report published yesterday.

The allegations, by researchers at George Washington University and the Washington-based Public Citizen Health Research Group, are based on secret industry documents obtained by the authors.

They come just days before the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is to announce its new standard for workplace exposure to hexavalent chromium -- a known carcinogen handled by 380,000 U.S. workers in the steel, aerospace, electroplating and other industries.


OSHA has not said what the new limit will be. But sources close to the agency have been told to expect a standard that would allow five times more exposure than it had initially proposed -- a shift that would be a victory for the industry, saving it billions of dollars in upgrades and plant closures.
The report appears in the journal Environmental Health.

The industry's failure to make the information public is especially troubling considering that OSHA, in the course of court-ordered rulemaking, requested industry to provide any new data particularly "data related to relatively low exposures common in modern factories, so the agency would not have to extrapolate from the very high exposure levels in earlier studies."

Turns out that the industry's "Chromium Coalition" had exactly that evidence, but was hiding it. George Washington University Professor David Michaels, Celeste Monforton (also at GW) and Peter Lurie of Public Citizen (which sued OSHA for a new standard) happened upon the evidence last year when the Industrial Health Foundation, the Chromium Coalition's legal agent, filed for bankruptcy and Michaels and Lurie got a look at some of their files.
Among them are the 1996 minutes of Chromium Coalition meetings describing a decision to hire scientists to create and analyze data that would "challenge" OSHA's nascent effort to impose low exposure limits.

"Although this route is expensive and success is not guaranteed, the longer we wait the more difficult the task becomes," one document concludes.

Most surprising was a 153-page report summarizing an industry-sponsored study of workers in chromium plants in the United States and Germany. The study was the most thorough ever to include workers exposed to low levels -- just what OSHA had asked for. But its results had never been released.

The report concluded that exposures ranging from 1.2 to 5.8 micrograms resulted in a fivefold increase in deaths from lung cancer.

"Here you have an agency repeatedly asking for data of this kind, and nothing is forthcoming," Lurie said.

The contract scientists who led the study had gone on to divide the data into two sets and changed the way they grouped the workers. As a result, one study -- published in 2004 -- found no increased risk, and the other -- soon to be published -- found an increased risk only in those with very high exposures.

Those manuscripts were submitted to OSHA.

"Maybe there's a reason they did it that way. I don't know. But on the surface it doesn't look very good," said Herman Gibb, an environmental consultant who led a seminal Environmental Protection Agency study of 70,000 chromium workers in Baltimore.
OSHA is on the verge of issuing a new Hexavalent Chromium standard. The agency is under court order, following a lawsuit by Public Citizen after the agency failed to act on a 1993 Public Citizen petition for a new standard.

The decades-old "permissible exposure level" is 52 micrograms per cubic meter of air. On the basis of the few large studies done in recent years, advocates sought a new level of 0.25 micrograms. In 2004 OSHA released a proposed limit of 1 microgram.

According to OSHA, the 1 microgram limit would result in two to nine excess deaths in every 1,000 exposed workers over a 45-year lifetime of work. That is more than the one-death-per-1,000 standard the agency aims for but is reasonable, it said, in light of the high costs and technological challenges involved.

Of course, those assumptions are based on a record that is lacking some of the most relevant data uncovered by Michaels and Lurie.

Now, some of your innocents out there may think that a company that covers up evidence that it products may be harming or killing people would be guilty of some kind of criminal behavior. But, no, turns out this is just another day in the life of corporate America (as those of you who regularly read Confined Space are aware.) Michaels, who is doing quite a bit of work in this area, points out that industry's behavior in this case is similar to that of tobacco and pharmaceutical companies that were found to have withheld damning evidence of risks associated with their products. And if you've read Deceit and Denial by Gerald Markowitz and David Rosner, you'll find almost identical tactics throughout the history of lead and vinyl chloride. Oh, and then there's the little issue of asbestos....

Michaels is also director of the Project on Scientific Knowledge and Public Policy (SKAPP), a coalition of scholars examining the application of scientific evidence in the legal and regulatory arenas. Check out the SKAPP webpage for a number of case studies that explore the use of science in government decision-making and in legal proceedings.

Brown University professor David Egilman has also written extensively on "suppression bias," where a company that has uncovered evidence that their product may be harmful to workers or consumers "choose[s] not to share that information with workers, customers, and the general public, especially when the studies reveal alarming health consequences."

So let's move along, nothing to see here. Sleep well. You're in good hands.

Related Stories

While I Was Away

Revere at Effect Measure not only contributed to keeping Confined Space afloat, but managed to write some pretty amazing stuff at his home base. We've written quite a bit here about how the chemical industry "manufactures doubt" about the cancer-causing or other damaging health effects of its products. The purpose, of course, is to encourage everyone -- consumers, juries, judges and regulators -- to throw up their hands at the allegedy confusing and contradictory evidence, leaving the products unregulated -- and the profits undiminished -- until the evidence becomes so overwhelming that even the blind can see.

Check out Revere's piece from last week which reveals a classic example of an industry public relations effort to manufacture doubt about the risks of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). PFOA is a chemical used to make Teflon and is one of DuPont's most profitable products, making the company around $200 million every year.
(other Confined Space pieces on PFOA here and here).

Workers Comp Insider is just chalk-full of interesting stuff including an article about coping with the death of a co-worker, workers compensation issues involving "independent contractors," an article about the problems employers will have re-integrating Iraq war veterans, and a devastating piece about an internal web site operated by Wal-Mart CEO H. Lee Scott Jr.

The AFL-CIO has finally gotten on the bandwagon with its very own blog AFL-CIO NOW. It doesn't have a separate health and safety "channel," although it covers workplace safety issues. It also links to Confined Space, so someone over there is reading the right stuff.

Meanwhile, Tapped (the American Prospect's blog) turns us on to Laying It On The Line, a blog written by Roger Tauss, Legislative and Political Director of the Transport Workers Union. Looks interesting, except that for some unfathomable reason, he doesn't link to Confined Space. We'll have to work on that.

I'm Baaack......

As I return to my lonely basement after a well earned and much-enjoyed vacation in a part of the world where they think our limited vacation time is crazy, my heart is filled with gratitude for the valuable and fascinating contributions of Revere, Cervantes and Tammy, but my nose and sinuses are filled with mucous as I take a rare sick day from work. Perhaps Revere or Cervantes can come up with a logical explanation: while I'm generally a very healthy person, I tend to get sick after long trans-Atlantic (or trans-Pacific) travel. Perhaps I chose wisely when I decided not to become a flight attendant.

Meanwhile, I just survived 5 straight days without touching a keyboard -- a new record -- without any ill effects (aside from this horrendous cold). I even managed to read a 500 page book, an activity increasingly rare among us bloggers.

Finally, in my absence, I find that I've been nominated for two Koufax awards -- Best Expert Blog and Best Single-Issue Blog. Revere at Effect Measure has deservedly joined me in these categories, as have dozens of other even more deserving blogs. The Koufax Awards -- which single out the best lefty blogs (get it?)-- bestow awards in a variety of different areas (e.g. Most Humorous Post and Best Post).

Aside from the miniscule chance of winning (which won't happen for Confined Space until there's a category for Best Workplace Safety blog), the main benefit of these awards is exposure to some of the best writing in the blogosphere. You can find all of the categories at Wampum's main page (left column). (There are still a few more categories to come.) And if you're amazed and astounded at the world of blogs that you never knew existed, drop a few well-earned pennies in their donation box.

By the way, voting hasn't started yet. You'll be the first to know...

So, stay tuned. Blogging may remain a bit on the slow side until my head clears of fluids and refills with that old, familiar sense of outrage.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Weekly Toll

National park worker dies in single-car wreck

GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK — A park maintenance worker was killed in a single-car accident Monday afternoon. Arnie Kovin, 54, who worked at the Southern District Maintenance Division in the park, was traveling south on U.S. 441 about 2:30 p.m. just past Smokemont Campground when his car left the road and flipped, landing in a nearby stream, said Nancy Gray, a spokeswoman for the National Park Service. Kovin was alone in the car.

One Dead in Failed Donut Shop Robbery

NY - A career criminal suspected of having murdered the manager of a local Dunkin’ Donuts during a brazen midday robbery is currently at large, and police are on a citywide manhunt to catch him. Otis Cain, 46, is suspected of having entered the coffee shop on West 145th Street around 1 p.m. Sunday afternoon, announcing what turned into a botched armed robbery that resulted in the death of one employee. The victim, Sanjoy Kar, was a 25-year-old Bangladeshi immigrant and computer science student at Baruch College. According to ABC 7, the store where Kar worked part-time was owned by his family. According to police, the assailant entered the store and waited in line before he took out a gun and shot Kar in the back. The victim attempted to escape, but the assailant then shot him repeatedly while he was on the ground. As terrified employees ran out of the store, Cain jumped over the counter and tried to sack the cash drawer, fleeing empty-handed when he was unable to open the register.

Woman dies in stabbing at packaging plant

TX - A 53-year-old woman was fatally stabbed about 2 p.m. Monday at Lambert Street Packaging, a food-packaging company where she was an employee Officers were called to the 3400 block of East Commerce Street after a man who also worked at the plant stabbed the woman near an assembly line, police said. The woman died at the plant after being stabbed in the torso, said Lt. Brian Head of the San Antonio Police Department. Her assailant fled. He is described as a 6-foot-tall, thin man with many tattoos

Man hurt in blast dies from injuries - Curtis Brackett suffered severe burns in explosion

NC - A man burned in last week's explosion at a Morganton chemical plant died early Sunday from his injuries, the first fatality from the blast that reverberated for miles. Curtis Brackett, known to many as Butch, died at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, according to a hospital spokeswoman. The 55-year-old had been treated for severe burns there since Tuesday's explosion at Synthron Inc., a paint additive manufacturer. The explosion injured 15 people and damaged homes and buildings in the area. Its effects have been also blamed for killing at least 1,000 fish downstream

Midair collision kills 3 - One plane crashes; other lands safely

WI - Three people were killed in a midair collision near the Dodge-Jefferson county line Sunday when the cargo plane they were in struck another cargo plane and then crashed and burned, authorities said. The plane containing the three victims crashed about 5 p.m. near highways 19 and Q, Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory said in a recorded message. It was not immediately clear from her message whether the impact of the collision or the subsequent crash caused the three deaths. Three people in the other plane landed safely in Juneau and suffered no injuries, Cory said. Both planes were multi-engine small cargo planes and had taken off from Milwaukee together and were flying together, but their departure times and destinations were unknown, Cory said. Both planes belonged to Air Cargo Carriers Inc. of Milwaukee. Randy Jackson, a dispatcher with the company, said the company plans to investigate but had no further comment.

Man Shot Dead At Busta Rhymes Video Shoot

AZ - Rapper Busta Rhymes security guard who was protecting the set of a video shoot in an industrial warehouse in Brooklyn was shot dead on the sidewalk early Sunday. The security guard, 29-year-old Israel Ramirez was shot once in the chest, he pronounced dead at Woodhull Hospital Center at 1:10 a.m. Police are uncertain whether the shooting had any connection to Rhymes or his associates as 14 shots were fired from an AK-47 assault rifle outside the studio.

Memorial Service For Murdered Employee

SC - Some couldn't stand, others just couldn't believe that someone could walk into the back door of the Little Caesar's on White Horse Road and murder, Stephanie Goodnough, a mother of four. Owner Bob Johns says, "She was a very good worker and a kind person, we just can't believe this." On Monday they closed down the Little Caesar's once again. They didn't open until six that night so her employees could attend Goodnough's memorial services. Customer Linda Tucker says, "It's sad. She didn't deserve to lose her life over this." Co-manager Stephanie Goodnough opened the store on Friday morning. Deputies say just moments later someone ended her life with a single gunshot.

2 Teens Held in Slaying of Pr. George's Worker

CA - Two 17-year-olds have been arrested and charged in Monday's shotgun killing of a worker who was renovating a house in Prince George's County, county police said. The victim was identified yesterday as Avel Monroy, 31, of the 1400 block of Langley Way in the Langley Park area of the county. Police said he was shot during a robbery of several men who were working on a house on Maygreen Avenue in the Forestville area. The suspects, who were arrested within hours of the killing, were charged as adults with first-degree murder, said Cpl. Diane Richardson, a county police spokeswoman. She identified them as Alphonso Jones of the 2700 block of Lakehurst Avenue and Walter Pierce Jr. of the 2600 block of Lakehurst. Their addresses are within about a half-mile of the site of the shooting. Police said they were struck by how inconsequential the proceeds of the robbery seemed: wallets and cell phones. They also noted the seeming willingness of the robbers to act in the open, in daylight, "without apparently any regard to who saw them," Richardson said.

Worker dies in machine accident at LDS printing plant

A 32-year-old man was killed Tuesday in an accident at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Printing Center in Salt Lake City. Adan Smith of Salt Lake City was pronounced dead on arrival, said fire spokesman Dennis McKone. The fire department received a call of a person trapped in a compactor at the facility, 1890 W. Industrial Circle (1850 South), at 1:36 p.m., said McKone. Crews arrived within two minutes to find the man had already been pulled free. Smith's co-workers shut off the machine and were able to easily pull the man out, said police spokesman Dwayne Baird. They also performed CPR on Smith. It was unclear how the accident occurred, though McKone said it was assumed Smith reached into the compactor and was pulled

Farmer dies after fall into grain bin

OH - A 67-year-old farmer was found dead Wednesday after he apparently fell into a grain bin at his home, the Examiner newspaper reported in its online edition Thursday. Jerry Wiford of 971 S. Twp. Road 46 was declared dead at the scene, but authorities said they do not know the time or cause of death. The Logan County Coroner's Office, which said the death does not appear suspicious and most likely was accidental, is awaiting preliminary autopsy reports, the newspaper said. Bellefontaine fire and squad crews, called about 1:15 p.m., found a relative shoveling corn away from Wiford, who was dead. A grain vacuum was brought from Champaign Landmark's West Liberty grain elevator, and three tractor-trailers unloaded enough grain to recover the body. Wiford had been unloading grain the past several days, according to incident reports, and started Wednesday morning intending to free up frozen corn inside the 30,000-bushel bin. He was untethered when he fell in feet-first, the newspaper said.

Cab driver killed in Route 5 crash

VA - The Veteran's Cab driven by Anna Margaret Watson Renalds, 43, of the 13000 block of Gallant Fox Drive, crossed the center line of state Route 5 in Henrico County before the crash, police said. Renalds was ejected from her vehicle and pronounced dead at the scene, said Henrico police spokesman Lt. Doug Perry. The man driving the SUV was taken to VCU Medical Center with life-threatening injuries, Perry said.

Owner of motorcycle shop shot dead, longtime employee arrested

AL. - Authorities in Talladega County are investigating the shooting death of a local businessman. 62-year-old Jerry Wayne Harrell, co-owner of Motorcycle Sports on Alabama 21, was shot in the back of the head yesterday morning as he sat in his office. Sheriff Jerry Studdard said it happened about 9:30 a.m.. He said the suspect, a longtime employee of the shop, was taken into custody and is being held in the Talladega County Jail. The sheriff said formal charges could be filed tomorrow.

State parole officer dies after Cox Park shooting

KY - A state probation and parole officer found shot in Cox Park on Monday died early yesterday morning. Gerald Zellar, 49, of New Albany, Ind., died at University Hospital about 3:45 a.m. yesterday, said Jim Wesley, a deputy Jefferson County coroner.

Worker killed at Fort Myers power plant

FORT MYERS — A worker was killed at the Florida Power & Light plant on Palm Beach Boulevard Tuesday afternoon. FP&L spokesman Grover Whidden says two men from West Palm Beach were inspecting the cooling towers when an external staircase collapsed. The men fell four stories to the ground. Whidden says Andres Sanderson died in the accident. Mark Diamond was treated for his injuries and released from the hospital. Federal investigators from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and an FP&L safety team are expected in Fort Myers today to look into the incident. Whidden says FP&L plants across the state are closing all external staircases until they can be inspected. He said the Fort Myers plant has an excellent safety record

Worker killed as trench collapses at golf course- 2 others injured; one man trapped nearly 4 hours

NA - A collapsed construction trench trapped three workers Tuesday afternoon at a northwest Reno golf course, leaving one dead and two injured. Four men from Western States Equipment were in the 10-foot-deep trench installing a storm sewer drain -- part of routine maintenance -- near the second hole of the Somersett Country Club golf course when the dirt gave way, burying three of the workers, fire officials said. The collapse trapped one worker, buried to his chest, for almost four hours before being rescued from the muddy trench. Another, buried to his waist, was trapped for a half hour. His heart and breathing stopped, but medical personnel revived him, officials said. Both were flown to Washoe Medical Center.

Construction Site Accident Leaves One Dead

TX - A construction worker was killed in an accident while working on the new State Highway 130. The accident happened Wednesday afternoon at the construction site located on State Highway 130 and FM 971 in Georgetown. Jorge Hernandez, 38, was killed in an accident on the SH 130 right-of-way in Georgetown. Hernandez, who lived in Austin, was an employee with Lone Star Infrastructure. He had been with the company for a year. Hernandez died during a paving operation. This is the second tragedy associated with work on the new state highway. Last July, a 22-year-old construction worker was crushed to death by a piece of heavy equipment. It happened on the northeast side of Lake Walter E. Long. "There was a large piece of machinery paving the overpass itself, and the individual was working in front of the machine and accidentally became entangled in the augger that was on the machine and was killed," Georgetown Assistant Police Chief Kevin Stofle said. Construction on SH-130 has come to a hault for the time being.

Worker Dies After Injury At Arena

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- A worker at Bud Walton Arena at the University of Arkansas has died from injuries he suffered in an accident while moving bleachers. Andrew Loren, 65, of Springdale, died Sunday after a Thursday fall. Officials say Loren fell 8 feet. University sports information director Kevin Trainor said the bleachers are regularly moved in to allow for more room for basketball practice or so the floor can be used for other events, such as graduation. The bleachers were being moved in advance of the Arkansas basketball game with Auburn last Saturday. Loren fell at about 7 p.m. Thursday. Loren had worked for the men's athletic department since Aug. 21, 2004. Trainor said counseling is available to athletic department employees and that the department is helping to cover Loren's funeral expenses. The university will review its procedures to see if changes are necessary.

Worker struck, killed by vehicle

FL - A Fort Lauderdale man was struck by a vehicle and killed this morning while doing work on a drainage hole west of Lantana, authorities said. The incident occured while Richard West, 47, was laying on the corner of Country Estate Drive and Pineville Drive in the Country Cove Estates development on Lantana Road. West was plastering cement on a drainage hole about 11:15 a.m. when a vehicle pulling a trailer struck him, according to the Palm Beach County After being struck, West fell into the drainage hole, officials say. He was transported to Delray Medical Center, where he later died. Sheriff's Office.The truck was being driven by Mark Brown, 28, who lives west of Boca Raton. Sheriff's deputies are investigating the incident.

Fallon man killed in accident

NV - The Washoe County Coroner’s office has released the name of the 41-year-old man killed in a construction accident in Pleasant Valley late Friday. David Coverston of Fallon, an Ames Construction employee, was killed while working on a bridge under construction as part of the Highway 395 Extension in Pleasant Valley when the motor grader he was operating about a quarter mile up the hillside drifted off the road and slid down the embankment. Coverston jumped off the grader when it started to slide and was run over by the machine. No one else was injured in the accident. The incident is under investigation by two agencies.

Officer dies from injuries suffered in car accident

IL - A Chicago police officer has died from the injuries he suffered last month when his squad car hit a church on Chicago's South Side.Officer Eric Solorio had been hospitalized since January 17 when the squad car his partner was driving swerved to avoid an accident when they tried to conduct a traffic stop. Their car struck a tree and the Alpha Temple near Marquette and Halsted. Officer Solorio died of his injuries Sunday at Christ Hospital. He was 26 years old. Solorio is survived by his mother, two sisters and a brother.

Perry County coal miner killed in roof fall -2006'S 3RD MINING DEATH COMES AS LAWMAKERS CONSIDER SAFETY RULES

KY - A Perry County coal miner yesterday became Kentucky's third mining fatality in 2006, just as state and federal officials announced efforts to toughen mine-safety laws. Timothy Wayne Caudill's death was the nation's 20th coal-related loss this year, after a record low of 22 fatalities in 2005. Caudill, 33, of Viper, died in a roof-fall accident at 8:30 a.m. inside Perry County Coal Corp.'s HZ4-1 mine at Jeff, said Chuck Wolfe, a spokesman for the state Office of Mine Safety and Licensing. Caudill, a roof bolter, was helping two other miners knock down a concrete block wall with a mining scoop when a large rock -- 14 feet long, 31/2 feet wide and 9 inches thick -- fell and struck him in the back of the head while he was bent over, Wolfe said. The mine's roof had been inspected most recently on Jan. 30. No violations were found.

Maintenance worker at Six Flags presumed drowned

GA - A maintenance worker at Six Flags died Monday afternoon after he and another contract employee fell into a pond while painting the Ninja roller coaster, authorities said. In a press release, Six Flags spokesman Jim Taylor said that about 3:15 p.m. a 25-year-old man who worked for an outside contractor fell when a rail on the pontoon boat he was working in came loose. The boat, which belonged to the outside contractor, was being used to paint the underside of the ride. When the worker was removed from the water he was non-responsive, Taylor said. The man remained submerged for almost 30 minutes before a rescue crew could pull him from the water, said Cobb fire Lt. Dan Dupree. The other worker was hospitalized with minor injuries. Neither man was identified. Officials with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration were called to the scene. Six Flags Over Georgia is closed for winter. The park reopens March

School bus collision leaves Tohono O'odham ranger dead

AZ - A Tohono O'odham Police Department ranger was killed in a collision with a school bus on his way to work in Sells on Monday morning. Jerome L. Lewis, 34, was killed instantly, said Officer Jim Oien, an Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesman. The crash happened around 6 a.m. at Sandario Road and Ajo Highway. The driver of the Altar Valley School District bus was eastbound on Ajo and was turning left onto Sandario, Oien said.

Worker killed in accident at steel company scrap yard

STEUBENVILLE, Ohio - A piece of cut steel fell onto a man working in a Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Corp. scrap yard and killed him, the company said. Stephen Zamana, 56, of Steubenville, was using a torch to cut scrap when it appears a piece of metal fell back on him Sunday morning, said Jim Kosowski, spokesman for the Wheeling, W.Va., based-company. Zamana was pronounced dead at Trinity West Medical Center in Steubenville, in eastern Ohio near the West Virginia line. The company will investigate and officials from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration were expected to visit the site, Kosowski said

Man burned at Morganton plant later dies

NC - A man burned in the Jan. 31 explosion at a Morganton chemical plant died early last Sunday from his injuries, the first fatality from the blast that reverberated for miles. Curtis Brackett, known to many as Butch, died at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, according to a hospital spokeswoman. The 55-year-old had been treated for severe burns there since the explosion at Synthron Inc., a paint additive manufacturer. An out-of-control chemical reaction likely caused explosion, which left one dead and 14 injured, federal investigators said Tuesday. Synthron employees were making paint additive in a 1,500-gallon reactor shortly before the explosion, according to the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board. Witness accounts support the idea that the reaction went out of control, resulting in a pressure increase and the release of flammable vapor, according to board spokesman Daniel Horowitz and a news release.

Roofer dies after taking 40-foot fall: Leominster man is killed at condo in Marlborough

MARLBOROUGH, MA -- A Leominster man was killed yesterday after he fell nearly 40 feet from a condominium building while roofing with three other workers, authorities said. James Stacy, 40, of 180 Johnson St., was killed instantly, police said, after falling more than three stories from the Spring Hill Condominium building at 35 High St., according to Police Sgt. Thomas Bryant. Bryant said police received a 911 call around 9:15 a.m. reporting that a man had fallen from the building onto the concrete parking lot below. Stacy was pronounced dead at the scene from extensive head injuries, police said. According to one of the co-workers and witnesses, Stacy was tearing off patches of the existing roof moments before he fell, Bryant said.

Bell man is killed in Jonesville accident

A Bell man was killed in a tree-clearing accident Friday near Jonesville after a large log was dropped on him, according to the Alachua County Sheriff's Office. The 25-year-old man, whose name was being withheld because his family had not yet been notified, was an employee of Ridgeway Tree Removal, which was contracted by Watson Construction to clear trees at 12400 Newberry Road at the Villages of West End, Sheriff's Office spokesman Sgt. Keith Faulk said. The man was trimming and topping logs with a chain saw and didn't hear an approaching skidder tractor that was pulling logs and dropping them into a pile, Faulk said. The driver of the tractor did not see the man and dropped a log, which pinned the man and caused fatal injuries, Faulk said. The man was flown to Shands at the University of Florida, where he was pronounced dead about an hour later, Faulk said. Deputies believe the incident was accidental and do not suspect foul play. Officials from the Occupational and Safety and Health Administration are investigating.

New Braunfels man killed in work accident

NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas Federal regulators are investigating the death of a New Braunfels man who fell into an industrial mixer at a food plant. Police say 22-year-old Rolando Rico-Barron fell into an electric mixer yesterday as he was cleaning at Custom Ingredients. The surface of the mixer was wet, and Rico-Barron apparently slipped. Police say Rico-Barron was alone when the accident occurred, but a video recorder caught the accident on tape.

Police officer killed by Massachusetts fugitive remembered

MOUNTAIN HOME, Ark. -- In a sea of blue and gray, police officers packed a church hall Friday to honor a veteran patrolman slain by a teenager who had fled halfway across the country after attacking patrons of a New Bedford, Mass., gay bar with a hatchet and a gun. Police officer James W. "Jim" Sell was remembered as a warrior for good who died while trying to stop evil. Police officers, sheriff's deputies and state troopers from Arkansas, Massachusetts and Missouri filled East Side Baptist Church to honor Sell, who died Feb. 4 not knowing he had pulled over a fugitive authorities feared would meet a violent end. "As police officers, we all know that there's a chance this could happen to us," Gassville Police Chief Tim Mayfield told a crowd of 900 or so. "For myself and my department, it became real." Shot

Healthcare Worker Killed In Hampton Update!

VA - A health care worker is dead and neighbors say the man who killed her is the very person she helped care for. Hampton Police say around six-thirty Thursday night Carmen Miles, 41, died from several gun shot wounds to the chest. The shooting happened inside an apartment. Your NewsChannel Three has learned the victim is a health care provider assisting a man confined to a wheel chair. Police say that man is a suspect in her death. But they're not saying what led up to the shooting.

Woman Killed by Bulldozer in Indian Head

MD - Charles County Sheriff's officers responded to a construction site on Hunters Brooke Drive in Indian Head for the report of an injured worker. Investigation revealed Gladys Morales-Estrada, 34, of Waldorf was operating a small bulldozer when she apparently activated a control of the bucket, crushing her. Other construction workers quickly summoned help and attempted first aid. Morales-Estrada died at the scene. The Maryland Occupational Safety and Health office responded to the scene to conduct an investigation. Det. J. Elliott is handing the Sheriff's Office investigation. There is no indication of foul play.

Bull tramples farmer to death

LaGRANGE, Ind. -- A farmer was trampled to death by a bull, the LaGrange County coroner said. Gene A. Hart, 58, was found injured Tuesday night by his brother in the bull's pen on the farm near LaGrange, about 40 miles northwest of Fort Wayne. By the time paramedics arrived, Hart had died.Coroner Bruce Coney said Hart had died of blunt-force trauma to the body "consistent with being trampled by a bull."

Woman killed in Henrico car crash

VA - A woman was killed this morning when the Veteran's Cab she was driving apparently crossed the center line of state Route 5 in Henrico County and collided head-on with another car. The victim's name was not immediately released. The driver of the second vehicle, a man, was taken to VCU Medical Center with life-threatening injuries, police said.

No cause found yet in Thruway crash that killed trucker, Rochester family

NY - State police said yesterday that they still were not sure why a truck driver lost control of his tractor-trailer on the New York State Thruway and caused an accident in which he and a family of three were killed Tuesday. "There was nothing apparently medically wrong with him prior to the impact," state police Investigator Ricky Peets said of the 63-year-old truck driver, Andrew McKiver. McKiver was on his way back from hauling tires to the Catskills when his southbound truck hit a metal guardrail in Harriman and then passed through an opening meant for U-turns before slamming into a sport utility vehicle headed north.

Elevator worker plummets to his death

BEAUMONT - An elevator maintenance worker fell 10 floors to his death Wednesday while doing an inspection in a high-rise office building. Keith Scott Axtell, 36, was inspecting an elevator about 10:20 a.m. in the Bank of America building on Calder at 10th Street when he somehow lost his footing, Beaumont Police Department spokeswoman Officer Crystal Holmes said.

Masonry worker falls 12 stories to his death

YONKERS — A 41-year-old construction worker who was doing masonry work from a scaffold without a harness on the 12th floor of an apartment building plunged to his death yesterday afternoon, police said. Wilson Acevedo of 148 Cortlandt St., Sleepy Hollow, died at the scene after the fall, said Detective Lt. Thomas Cleary of the Major Case Squad. He landed atop a scaffold at the first floor of the building at 385 McLean Ave. City detectives, Building Department officials and inspectors from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration were investigating the death, Cleary said. The accident occurred just before 3 p.m. when bricks fell off the building and apparently struck the workman, knocking him off the scaffold. "As he was removing bricks, a section fell off that apparently knocked him off," Cleary said. Acevedo plunged to his death as several co-workers were on another section of the building, lowering themselves to the ground. Two brothers who live nearby, James and Peter Garcia, witnessed the fall.

Burlington Twp. firefighter dies in house fire

BURLINGTON TWP., NJ -- A township firefighter died this morning while trying to rescue his father from a blaze that broke out at their home. Edward Marbet, 31, got his fiancee out of the home, at 25 Walnut Dr., according to a police lieutenant at the scene. Marbet went back inside the home to look for his father, who in the meantime had gone out a back door of the bi-level home, and Marbet became trapped, said Lt. Wayne Maver. When firefighters arrived at the home, heavy smoke and flames were shooting out of the home's front windows. Marbet's financee is pregnant, according to three neighbors who had gathered at the scene. Marbet was a second lieutenant at Station 301, according to the department's Web site. He was also a former township police dispatcher, Maver said.

Local man killed by train late friday night

WA - A 50-year-old Cheney man was killed late Friday night when he was hit by a train in downtown Cheney. According to police, evidence indicates it was a suicide. The man, identified as a local resident, was struck by a train heading eastbound on the Burlington Northern Santa Fe tracks at around midnight, Friday, between H and I Streets behind The Cheney Grain Company. Cheney police and fire crews responded to the scene after a BNSF employee notified them that the train had hit a person. According to the medical examiner the man was dead on arrival. Police say the evidence points to a possible suicide. One witness, who wishes to remain anonymous, said, “Police were picking up pieces and putting them into a white bag. We all knew what had happened but weren’t really sure.”

Truck driver killed crossing street

LAWRENCEVILLE — A truck driver was struck and killed Monday morning while attempting to cross a street in Lawrenceville. Authorities said Larry Gunner, 49, of Kannapolis, N.C., was making a scheduled stop on Industrial Park Drive at Industrial Park Circle at 6 a.m. when the accident occurred. As Gunner got out of his truck and began walking across the street, a 1990 Acura Integra slammed into him, said Officer C. Ralston of the Lawrenceville Police Department. Gunner was thrown clear of the car and died at the scene. Police believe the area was poorly lit before sunrise. Gunner was also reportedly wearing dark clothing. The driver of the Acura, 35-year-old Alfredo Gonzalez of Norcross, was cited for not having a license. He was not found to be at fault in the accident and will not face charges, Ralston said.

Farmer found dead after auger accident

HUGO, Minn. - A farmer was found dead near his corn picker Thursday, after his coat apparently got caught on the auger and pulled him in, the Washington County Sheriff's Office said. Authorities haven't determined whether Peter J. Leroux, 27, was strangled or died of exposure in the subzero windchill Thursday afternoon, said Sheriff's Cmdr. Scott Malinosky. An autopsy is being done to find out the cause of the death. A neighbor called authorities around 7 p.m., after seeing Leroux on his knees near the auger with his parka taut around his neck, Malinosky said. His tractor was running and he had apparently been there a few hours, Malinosky said.

Accident takes life of farmer, tree-trimming business owner

MS - Bob Henderson, farmer and owner of a tree-trimming business, died this morning while working on his farm in Carroll County Henderson was working with a tree loading machine. Details about the accident are unclear, said Bobbye Gale Makamson, his sister-in-law. The 46-year-old was alone at the time of the accident. A worker found him and called an ambulance. The ambulance crew was unsuccessful in reviving him, Makamson said. She is unsure when the accident occurred, but Makamson received a call at work about 8:30 a.m. "I went out to the farm as soon as I found out." Attempts to contact Carroll County Coroner Ken Strachan this morning were unsuccessful. News of the accident swept through Greenwood this morning. It came as a blow to Leflore County Chancery Clerk Sam Abraham. "Bob was a gentle fellow and as good a guy as I've ever met," Abraham said. "The community is going to miss him. He was tough but a hard worker." Henderson was always generous with his time and talent, particularly when it came to trimming the magnolia trees around the courthouse.

Dentists Killed While At Work

TX - Two El Paso men were arrested in connection with the latest double murder in Juarez. The shooting happened late Thursday night inside a Juarez dentist office. The victims were both dentists; one is also a former police officer. A third man was also severely injured. Carlos Pacheco Ramirez and Roberto Quezada Hernandez were arrested Thursday night inside a Juarez hotel by federal police. They are now waiting for word from U.S. authorities on the men's criminal background. The motive appears to be the result of a drug debt.

Electrical accident killed man - Handyman found dead under Jackson home he was renovating

MS - A handyman was found dead Friday morning under a west Jackson home after not returning from a job Thursday night. Jeffrey Abshire, 40, of Star was electrocuted while renovating a house on Galvez Street, Hinds County Coroner Sharon Grisham-Stewart said. His death was ruled an accident and an autopsy will not be performed, she said. Home owner Michael Riggs of Brandon said he met Abshire in September and had hired him to do occasional work at some of his other properties. "He worked for himself," Riggs said. "He seemed pretty good." Riggs hired Abshire again this week to get the vacant house at 160 Galvez St. ready for tenants who were about to move in. But when Abshire did not show up for work Wednesday, Riggs said he didn't expect him to be at the house for the rest of the week. Riggs said he received a call early Friday from Abshire's wife, who said her husband had not returned home from working on the house Thursday night. He then drove to the house, where he found Abshire, and called police at 8:15 a.m. Police said they believe Abshire accidentally pinched a live wire with a jack while he was working on the home's foundation. He was last known to be alive Thursday afternoon, Grisham-Stewart said. "It was just kind of a freak thing," Riggs said.

Polk man killed while repairing helicopter at executive airport - The mechanic was doing work on the aircraft on the ground when the accident occurred.

FL - A Davenport man was killed Friday at Orlando Executive Airport while performing maintenance on a helicopter, authorities said. Kevin M. Connolly, 33, was servicing the aircraft while it was on the ground about 3:30 p.m. when a rotor broke loose and struck him, said Kathleen Bergen, a Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman. The rotor blade struck Connolly "in the neck area," said Orlando police Sgt. Barbara Jones, a department spokeswoman. Jones said she did not have more details on the accident. "It's a very, very sad situation," she said. Police crime-scene technicians and investigators responded to the scene, which is standard department procedure

Funeral Services Scheduled for Deputy Killed

WI - The Eau Claire County Sheriff's Department and Eau Claire Police Department will serve jointly as an honor guard for the funeral of a deputy killed Thursday. Sixty-two-year-old Stephen Hahn was on transport duty in Jackson County when he and another deputy were involved in a three vehicle crash. Hahn also spent three decades with the Eau Claire Police Department."I came on in 1980 when Steve was on the road. It's always sad to lose someone in the family, the police family," says Officer Dewey Jasper. "Steve particularly as a road supervisor brought his own energy to the job. I enjoyed beginning my career in Eau Claire working with Steve."Deputy Chief Gary Foster worked two decades with Hahn."Steve had a sense of humor that could be taken one of two ways and if you didn't know him, you probably were wondering where he was coming from but if you got to know him, you understood that he was teasing," says Foster. "We are stand-ready to honor Steve in his capacity in both the police department and the sheriffs department."

Tree snaps, crushing truck, killing driver

SARATOGA SPRINGS - Deadly winds that swept through the area Friday left a swath of downed trees and power outages and killed a DOT worker who died when a pine tree crushed the truck he was driving in the Saratoga Spa State Park. The fatality occurred at 11:45 a.m. when George H. Green Jr. of Dyer Switch Road was driving on the Avenue of the Pines through the state park near the Executive Golf Course, across from the Gideon Putnam Hotel. A 2-foot-wide pine tree snapped off about 15 feet above the ground and crushed the cab of his state Department of Transportation pickup.Green, 53, died instantly, police said.

Farmer drowned trying to save calf

IN - A 71-year-old Indiana County farmer drowned Wednesday while trying to rescue a calf that had walked onto an ice-covered pond. Kenneth Vaughn Brady, of 246 Brady Road, Armstrong Township, was recovered from the pond and pronounced dead at the scene at 10:30 p.m. by Coroner Michael Baker. State police said Brady's family called 911 late Wednesday afternoon when he failed to arrive home and his tractor was discovered next to the pond

Rollover of lift kills worker

MI - A 46-year-old employee of NSK Corp.'s bearing plant in Pittsfield Township was killed early today when he was crushed by the lift equipment he was operating, authorities said. The Tecumseh man, whose name has not been released, was driving a lift at the plant in the 5400 block of South State Road around 2 a.m., reports said. The lift rolled off a loading dock, causing the vehicle to roll over and pin the man underneath, police said. Sgt. John Belknap said no other employees witnessed the accident. He said another employee discovered the overturned lift with the man beneath it. Police, firefighters and paramedics arrived, and the employee was pronounced dead at the scene.

Employee Killed When Container Ruptures At Weapons Station - Pressurized Container Ruptures At Seal Beach Station

SEAL BEACH, Calif. -- A civilian employee transferring nitrogen from a pressurized container to a test chamber at the Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station was killed Thursday when the container ruptured, a base official said. The man was working with two other men in the back of an industrial building on the Seal Beach Boulevard base when the accident occurred around 10:40 a.m., said spokesman Greg Smith. He was filling a test chamber with compressed nitrogen gas, which is used to calibrate submarine depth gauges, the base spokesman said. One of the cylindrical containers was 5 feet high and less than a foot in circumference and the other was 2 feet high and 1 1/2 feet around, Smith said. Nitrogen is an inert gas that is not flammable, nor is it poisonous, Smith said. The employee, whose name was withheld pending notification of next-of-kin, was pronounced dead at the scene, Smith said. No one else was injured.


The semi truck driver killed in a fiery accident in Bowie last night has been identified. It happened around 8:30pm at the Highway 59 exit when an 18 wheeler slammed into a bridge and exploded into flames. The driver has been identified as 33-year-old Daniel Allen of Lawton. The cab of the truck was destroyed in the fire. Investigators say he was carrying material used in tire manufacturing. The Highway 59 bridge was closed until debris was cleared from the area. TXDOT has inspected the bridge for any structural damage.

Lackland officer dies during swim course

An officer with the 342nd Training Squadron at Lackland AFB died Wednesday afternoon while taking part in swimming activities, base officials said. The officer, who is not being identified until his family is notified, was participating in the Combat Rescue Officers Course when he died, Lackland spokeswoman Adelina Carrillo said. He was taken to Wilford Hall Medical Center and pronounced dead at 1:55 p.m. The cause of death was not available, Carrillo said, adding that Air Force officials are investigating the incident.

Logging accident kills campground owner

TOWN OF NORRIE — The longtime owner of a popular campground in rural Marathon County died Monday in a logging accident on his property. Kenneth Thiermann was clearing a campsite at the Wildlife Refuge campground when he was apparently unable to avoid a falling tree. He suffered extensive head injuries and likely was killed almost instantly, according to a Marathon County Sheriff's Department report. An employee found him later that evening. Thiermann, 69, owned and operated the campground and an adjacent bar in the town of Norrie for the past 25 years. A Milwaukee native, he worked for the Glendale Department of Public Works until he retired in 1994.

31-year-old oil worker falls from derrick, dies

IL - A 31-year-old man died Saturday night after falling 100 feet from an oil field derrick about 60 miles north of Van Horn, officials said. Robert Brian Holholman died in what Culberson County Sheriff Oscar Carrillo called the area's first industrial accident death. Holholman worked for an oil company named Riata, Carrillo said. How Holholman fell is under investigation


CA - A 20-year-old construction worker was killed Friday morning after the arm of a concrete-pumping truck collapsed while pouring, Murrieta police said. The accident occurred at about 10:30 a.m. when Jairo Heredia, whose address is listed in Fawnskin, was pinned beneath the concrete-pumping boom. Three other workers who were not identified also suffered moderate to minor injuries, including a broken leg, said police Sgt. Bob Landwehr. Authorities did not release the names of the victims Friday afternoon because they were waiting to notify family members. The construction crews were pouring concrete at a rural, unfinished housing development along Meadowlark Ridge in Murrieta when the truck tipped forward onto its front wheels.

Worker crushed by loader bucket

FL - Henry Langley paid $50 for a broken-down red Nissan pickup truck and rebuilt the engine. Friends called him "Junior," and they knew him as the guy who could fix anything. Langley, 40, died Thursday morning while doing what he knew best. He was crushed when a John Deere front-end loader's 1,000-pound bucket dropped as he lay beneath it making repairs, said Tampa police spokeswoman Laura McElroy. Investigators aren't sure exactly what time the incident happened. But Langley arrived at the leased property of Bedrock Pavers, at W Tyson and S Manhattan avenues, at 8:30 a.m. and started fixing the loader, which had a hydraulic leak. Bedrock owner John T. Lazzara, 45, wanted Langley to fix the loader so workers could move debris from the site, which came under fire recently for code problems, McElroy said.

Semi crashes into restaurant; driver dead

HAMMOND, IN - The driver of a semitrailer was pronounced dead after the truck crashed into a Chinese restaurant early today. The Illinois-based truck was driving south-southeast sometime before 6 a.m. when its cab crashed into the front of King Chop Suey, 1730 Indianapolis Blvd., near the intersection of Indianapolis and Myrtle Avenue. The identity of the driver was not immediately available, nor was it clear this morning if the driver died before or after crashing. For the full story, see Saturday's editions of The Times.

Cab driver may have been slain for money

GA - Fulton County police say robbery may have been the motive for the Friday night killing of a cab driver near College Park. Police Cpl. Gary Syblis said the driver for Diamonds Cab Co. died of gunshot wounds to the back of the head sometime before 10:20 p.m. Friday, which is the time police were summoned to a reported auto accident. Syblis said he did not have an identity for the man, in part because police were unable to locate the man's wallet or identification. Diamonds Cab owner Dee Dukes identified the driver as Michael Burwell of Riverdale, a part-time driver who had been with the company for two to three months.

Worker killed in accident at steel company scrap yard

STEUBENVILLE, Ohio - A piece of cut steel fell onto a man working in a Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Corp. scrap yard and killed him, the company said. Stephen Zamana, 56, of Steubenville, was using a torch to cut scrap when it appears a piece of metal fell back on him Sunday morning, said Jim Kosowski, spokesman for the Wheeling, W.Va., based-company.

11-story fall kills masonry worker - Sleepy Hollow man, 42, wasn't wearing harness, police say

YONKERS - A 42-year-old construction worker who was doing masonry work from a scaffold without a harness on the 12th floor of an apartment building plunged to his death yesterday afternoon, police said. Wilson Acevedo, 41, of 148 Cortlandt St., Sleepy Hollow, died at the scene after the 11-story fall, said Detective Lt. Thomas Cleary of the Major Case Squad. He landed atop a scaffold at the first floor of the building at 385 McLean Ave. City detectives, Building Department officials and inspectors from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration were investigating the death, Cleary said.

Mississippi Firefighter Dies From Injury

MS - The sudden death of a Mississippi firefighter has left a void in an area still reeling from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Gary W. Kistler Sr., 65, a career firefighter with Saucier Fire Department, died Sunday, six days after he cut the tip of his finger at a wreck. The cause of death has been listed as septic infection, said Harrison County Fire Marshal George Mixon.

Shot in Case of Mistaken Identity, Officer Dies After 11-Day Ordeal

NY - It is a hard-to-fathom chain of events: a rookie police officer, assaulted at a White Castle restaurant in the Bronx, is shot three times by a fellow officer responding to a 911 call. Given little chance of surviving, the young officer defies the odds and keeps living. For 11 days. Yesterday, at St. Barnabas Hospital, the painful episode reached a sorrowful moment: the officer, Eric Hernandez, died despite intense efforts to save him. After being told that a CAT scan showed he was brain dead, relatives decided to take him off life support machines, a hospital official said.

Worker stabbed to death at packaging plant

A 53-year-old woman was fatally stabbed Monday afternoon as her co-workers at an East Side packaging plant helplessly watched in horror. Police soon issued a murder warrant for the victim's husband, Antonio Cavazos, 45, who was still at large Monday night. Witnesses told investigators that the victim, Lupe Cavazos, and her husband, also known as Anthony Cavazos, worked together at the Lambert Street Packaging plant in the 3400 block of East Commerce Street, police said. "They were arguing," said Steven Dorn, who has worked at the plant for about three months and said he'd often seen the couple quarrel. "This time it went a little too far." Police said they were trying to find Antonio Cavazos on Monday night.

Smokies employee dies in wreck on Newfound Gap

TN - An employee of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was killed when his pickup truck ran off the road, overturned and landed in a river, park officials said Tuesday. Arnold V. Kovin Jr., 54, of Cullowhee, N.C., was driving from the park headquarters here to his duty station at the Oconaluftee Maintenance Area near Cherokee, N.C., when the accident happened Monday afternoon. Kovin was the park's fleet management specialist and had worked in the Smokies since 2002. Witnesses said Kovin's truck was traveling south on Newfound Gap Road when it drifted into the other lane and off the road and dropped about 10 to 15 feet into the Oconaluftee River.

Slain officer is 17th Southern Nevada law enforcement officer to die on duty since 1933

CA - Las Vegas police Sgt. Henry Prendes is the 17th Southern Nevada law enforcement officer to die on duty in the past three-quarters of a century. Before Prendes' death on Wednesday, the most recent on-duty Southern Nevada officer to be fatally shot was North Las Vegas police officer Raul Elizondo. Elizondo, 27, a three-year veteran of the department named "Officer of the Year" three months prior to his death, was on a routine patrol at dawn Jan. 30, 1995, when he saw a man in the street screaming.

Cops name a suspect; D.A. asks public's help in Ardmore slaying

PA - JUST BEFORE Jacuqin Byrd's alleged fateful encounter with murder victim Sarah Boone at an Ardmore catering office last week, he stopped at a nearby business where he was a familiar face. "He was friendly, same as always," said Ken McVey, owner of Musicians Rental Services, Inc., who's known the 27-year-old Byrd for a couple of years. He said Byrd made a partial credit-card payment on a piece of disc-jockeying equipment that he'd rented and then damaged. "He went off in a good mood," said McVey. Shortly afterward, Boone, 24, was killed in a bloody knife attack in the basement of Cricket Catering. Authorities now say Byrd is the only suspect in the slaying, although he has not been charged with any crime.

Taxi driver slain on extra route - He answered call that led to his death after leaving wife, son at home

West Palm Beach- Cab driver Francisco A. Chavez was driving home Thursday with his wife and child from Church of God in Lake Worth -- after learning services had been canceled -- when he heard the call from dispatch for a pickup nearby. The call wasn't for him but when another driver didn't answer, Chavez, 40, responded to what would be his last ride. He dropped off his wife of six years, Elmie, and his 5-year-old son, Eli, at their home in West Palm Beach and drove to Military Trail and Lake Worth Road to pick up a man at an IHOP restaurant.

Worker dies in Omaha accident

A Lincoln man died Wednesday after a construction accident at 1502 Jones St. in downtown
Omaha. Alfredo Espinoza-Lagurnas, 43, suffered a head injury, officials said. Rescue workers were called to the former Kimball Laundry, which is being converted to lofts, about 8:15 a.m. They took the man to the Creighton University Medical Center, where he died. Espinoza-Lagurnas was working in the basement removing asbestos while standing on a 10-foot ladder, said Matt Timmerman of McGill Asbestos Abatement Co., for which Espinoza-Lagurnas was working.

Kansas State University electrician killed in fall

KS - An electrician at Kansas State University was killed Thursday after falling down an elevator shaft. Paul D. White, a senior electrician with Kansas State University's Housing and Dining Services, was repairing an elevator door in Haymaker Hall, one of the university's residence halls, when he fell, the university said. White was taken to Mercy Regional Health Center where he later died.