Monday, July 31, 2006

Ground Zero Workers: Neglected Victims of "The Largest Acute Environmental Disaster That Ever Has Befallen New York City"

I wrote last week about the attempt of a couple of labor unions to deal with the slow-motion disaster of "popcorn workers lung." Today, we return to another slow-motion American disaster -- one that sickening, and probably shortening the lives of thousands of American heroes -- World Trade Center clean-up workers. It's been a while since I've written about this continuing American tragedy, and I'm astonished about the expanding scope and depth of the disaster that is seemingly hiding below the radar of the news media of this country -- with the exception of the New York City area.


When most of the country thinks of 9/11 and the destruction the World Trade Centers, they think of the planes, the people jumping from buildings, and those crushed to death when the buildings collapsed. The entire world recognizes that day as a disaster, but most of the world fails to not that the disaster that began on 9/11 continues to this day, as the victims of the "the largest acute environmental disaster that ever has befallen New York City" continue to get sick and die horrible painful deaths, while federal and state officials are only now -- five years later -- beginning to respond adequately.

The New York Daily News has published a multi-issue special report about the suffering of World Trade Center cleanup workers:
Ground Zero workers were sent into 'the largest acute environmental disaster that ever has befallen New York City' without proper respiratory protection - and thousands are paying the price.
Christopher Hynes is but one among thousands:

For Christopher Hynes, life as a forgotten victim of 9/11 is a battle for breath.

Five years ago, Hynes was a 30-year-old, healthy, nonsmoking New York City police officer. Then, in September and October 2001, he was assigned to Ground Zero duty, spending more than 100 hours patrolling the perimeter of the smoldering rubble of the twin towers. The air was thick with dust and smoky particles.

Today, Hynes, married and the father of a 4-year-old son, has sarcoidosis, a disease that scars lung tissues, and asthma, a disease that inflames and obstructs the airways of the lungs. He coughs constantly and cannot exert himself without losing breath. He survives with the help of steroids and performs restricted duties for the Police Department.

"I will probably have this for the rest of my life," he says.

The tragedy is human, and, like most workplace illness, it's also political:
They gasp for air with asthma or illnesses that scar deep in the lungs. They lose their breath from exertion. They endure pain from persistently swollen sinuses and constant burning from acid reflux. At a minimum, they cough and cough, hacking with a syndrome known fittingly as World Trade Center cough.

And, beyond all doubt, at least four responders - Firefighter Stephen Johnson, Police Officer James Godbee, Detective James Zadroga and Emergency Medical Service paramedic Debbie Reeve - died as a direct consequence of their service.

The magnitude of the epidemic has worsened for five years as every level of government has failed to face the reality of what happens when large numbers of people without proper respiratory protection are exposed for long periods to air thick with toxic substances.

Responsibility runs from the federal government, where then-Environmental Protection Administrator Christie Whitman falsely assured 9/11 responders that the air was safe, to the New York State Health Department, which abandoned a program designed to monitor the health of 9,800 state and National Guard personnel, to the New York City Health Department, which has yet to issue treatment guidelines for physicians.

One article highlights several additional case studies among 40,000 "who stepped forward for New York and America after 9/11, and they speak here of the price they paid for serving." There are many stories here that you should read, but here's just one:
Running out of time

As an American, as a New Yorker, I thought I had an obligation to help. Somebody demolishes a building in my city, it's my duty to clean it up. I'm a union worker. But now, I'm living through a nightmare. The city employees got taken care of, but we didn't get anything.

Each time I go to Mount Sinai Medical Center, I lose more of my lung. The first time, it was 21% gone. The next, 33%. Now they say I've lost 44%. I can't even walk up a flight of stairs. I've got three kids and can't afford to take time off work, but I'm worried about the future, about my wife and my children. The lung specialist I went to couldn't diagnose my problem. He didn't know what to say to me, except to guarantee that in 10 years I wouldn't be walking around.

Daniel Arrigo, 51, Staten Island
The individual stories are tragic, but the sheer numbers are staggering:

In the Fire Department, more than 600 firefighters - soon to be 700 - have been forced into retirement because they were deemed permanently disabled. Most suffer from asthma that disqualifies them from battling blazes. And fully 25% of the FDNY's active fire and EMS forces have lung-related conditions - more than 3,400 people in all.

At the Mount Sinai program, where physicians are monitoring the health of 16,000 cops, construction workers and others, Dr. Stephen Levin estimates that from half to two-thirds of the patients are similarly sick. That works out to at least 8,000 people and pushes the tally of the ill over 12,000.

The count goes up from there among the thousands of responders who are not enrolled in either program. How far up, nobody knows. But doctors are all too aware that the general prognosis for the sick is not good. While treatment has helped many to improve, few have regained their health.

"I think that probably a few more years down the road we will find that a relatively small proportion will be able to say, 'I am as good as I was back on Sept. 10, 2001,' " said Levin.

Betrayal: "Safe and Acceptable"

It all began with a betrayal, the big lie:

The betrayal of the 9/11 responders began with a lie that reverberates to this day.

When the twin towers collapsed, the remains of 200,000 tons of steel, 600,000 square feet of window glass, 5,000 tons of asbestos, 12,000 miles of electric cables and 425,000 cubic yards of concrete crashed to the ground and then spewed into the air. To the mix were added 24,000 gallons of jet fuel burning as hot as 1,300 degrees.

At The Pile, the air was "darker than a sealed vault and thicker than pea soup," in the description of one deputy fire chief. But officials pronounced that would-be rescuers were safe.

As then-U.S. Environmental Protection Administrator Christie Whitman put it in a press release on Thursday, Sept. 14, 2001: "Monitoring and sampling conducted on Tuesday and Wednesday have been very reassuring about potential exposure of rescue workers and the public to environmental contamination." Two weeks later, Mayor Rudy Giuliani said rescue workers faced minimal risk because the air quality was "safe and acceptable."

Twelve Years Of Age-Related Decline

Another recent study has confirmed the extent of the damage caused to WTC workers:
The analysis of fire and Emergency Medical Technician workers conducted by the FDNY and Montefiore Medical Center-Albert Einstein College of Medicine could make Bloomberg reconsider his position. It found that firefighters in The Pit suffered a loss of lung power "equal to that of 12 years of age-related decline."

"Those who had more exposure, those who arrived earlier, had a more severe loss," said Montefiore's Dr. Gisela Banauch, also a co-author of the study, parts of which were released in May and all of which will be published next week in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
Early Warning, Delayed Action

The effect of inhaling the dust were very clear, very early:

Thirteen firefighters contracted pneumonia in the first three months, and by month six more than 30 firefighters had come down with reactive airways dysfunction syndrome, the asthma that struck Jeffrey Endean. An additional 332 firefighters and one EMS worker had a severe enough cough to require four weeks of sick leave - the first medical definition of what became know as World Trade Center cough.

All of them had coughed up black or gray phlegm containing pebbles or particles in the first days after the attack, and one year later, more than half of those 332 showed only partial improvement. Almost nine out of 10 also suffered from persistent, severe heartburn or acid reflux, an ailment common among the forgotten victims of 9/11.

As early as November of 2001, doctors at the Mount Sinai Medical Center had established a protocol, or guidelines for treating treating the responders who were already showing characteristic signs of illness, according to Dr. Robin Herbert, co-director of Mount Sinai's World Trade Center Health Monitoring Program.
But the officials declined, saying there was no clear consensus that the respiratory ailments were related to exposure at the site.

Almost five years later, with hundreds of former Ground Zero workers suffering from respiratory, gastrointestinal and mental ailments that doctors say resulted from their work there, city health officials are finally preparing the protocols, which they expect to be published this summer. But doctors who observed these medical problems right from the start are upset that it's taken the city so long.

"It's tragic that it's taken public health officials of New York almost five years," Herbert told me. "It's better late than never, but it's pretty late." She said there's no doubt that the lack of citywide guidelines has resulted in some patients' not being treated properly.<
The result was misdiagnosis and mistreatment.

Now, five years later, the city has finally developed its own protocols, but is still denying any connection between cleanup work and the illnesses suffered by responders.
With at least one class-action lawsuit pending against the city on behalf of plaintiffs claiming illnesses and even deaths as a result of Ground Zero exposure, the city has denied any deaths were related to exposure there. Some say the reason the city is moving on the protocols now is because John Howard, the federal official in charge of 9/11-related health issues, has asked for them. But the city can't waste any more time. How many people could have been spared prolonged discomfort and worsening illness if they had been available earlier?
State and federal authorities have also been excruciatingly slow in determining cleanup eligibility of sick and broke cleanup workers for workers compensation.
Getting relief from the workers' comp system is a grueling ordeal. And New York still hasn't received $56 million that was appropriated by Congress in December to pay the medical expenses of sick Ground Zero responders. Given his recent good news, Picurro considers himself lucky.
In fact, one attorney is claiming that the city is using federal funds to fight workers comp claims:
David Worby, who is waging a suit on behalf of 8,000 WTC responders and their survivors, said $20 million has been "spent on city lawyers to deny the claims of cops, firefighters and others who were sickened."

"That money should be used to help these people," he said. "Take $100 million from the billion, Mr. Mayor, and set up a proper registry" to monitor the health of those who toiled at Ground Zero.

There was no immediate response to Worby's accusation from Mayor Bloomberg, but the city contends it is allowed to tap funds from the World Trade Center Captive Insurance Company to defend itself against claims. The federally funded entity was set up after the 9/11 attacks because no commercial insurance company would take on the risk.

Bloomberg promised to look into whether the city stiffed its 9/11 heroes after being prodded to do so by hard-hitting Daily News editorials that described the plight of 12,000 ailing Ground Zero workers.

So far, he hasn't acknowledged that the deaths of at least four first responders - and the illnesses of thousands more - were directly related to their toiling amid the toxins of Ground Zero.

The problem was certainly not lack of information and evidence:

To read the studies is to confront both governmental inaction and a question: Why? Why were recovery workers put in harm's way, falsely assured they were safe and lacking respiratory protection? And why has so little been done to aid them? The answers, it seems certain, were, first, ignorance; second, a determination to get New York moving at all costs; third, bureaucracies that let everyone dodge responsibility, and fourth, a desire to minimize liability.

All of which should have been swept aside as scientists reported their findings; all of which must be swept aside today. Too many people have gone without proper monitoring and treatment, and too many are threatened by worse illnesses, to allow further denial and lethargy.

The reports are available in publications such as the New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, Chest, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Many were written by the Fire Department's own doctors, who are among a handful of officials who have performed in exemplary fashion since 9/11.

As the Daily News series concludes:
They served New York and it cost them their health and even their lives. They deserve nothing less than long-term, gold-standard health care - now.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Surfing, Chemicals and Cancer

Last December I wrote a story about how one of the biggest surfboard makers in the United States -- Gordon “Grubby” Clark, the "Howard Hughes of the Surfboard World" -- went out of business, blaming government regulation. According to the New York Times,
In 2003, Mr. Clark received a notice from the Environmental Protection Agency for, among other things, failing to safeguard workers against the accidental release of toluene diisocyanate, or TDI, a liquid catalyst and known carcinogen used in making polyurethane foam.

There was also the cost of workers' compensation, insuring machines of his own design and "a claim being made by the widow of an employee who died from cancer," he wrote.

"For owning and operating Clark Foam," the letter began, "I may be looking at very large fines, civil lawsuits, and even time in prison."
EPA, however, claimed that Mr. Clark was in compliance, and other surfboard makers, while admitting to a temporary surfboard shortage to to Mr. Clark's withdrawal, claimed that there were safe ways to make surfboards anyway.

Well, I don't know about the regulation complaint, but Clark was right about the claim of the widow of an employee who died. Last week the widow filed a wrongful death suit against Clark Foam Products:
In legal papers, Maria Teresa Barriga claims that her husband, Martin Barriga, and other employees ran with open buckets of toxic toluene diisocyanate sloshing on their hands, arms, torso, legs and feet.

During lunch breaks, Barriga and other workers warmed their meals in the same microwave used to heat the chemical, the suit alleges.

Toluene diisocyanate, known as TDI, is commonly used to make foam products and paint. When heated, the chemical becomes toxic and can cause severe respiratory, gastrointestinal and central nervous system problems. It is also a possible carcinogen, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Barriga's death certificate lists cardiac arrest, respiratory failure, inflamed and scarred lung sacs and arterial inflammation as causes of death. A biopsy showed that he also suffered from a cancerous chest tumor.
In a letter to his customers, Clark wrote that:
"About 20 years ago," Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspectors "came down on our TDI use very hard and more or less tied one arm behind our back."

OSHA officials said Wednesday that they hadn't inspected Clark Foam since 1990. But Clark said he continued to struggle to meet tighter standards of other regulatory agencies.
Sounds like maybe OSHA and EPA didn't come down hard enough.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Right-Wing Threats Against Judges Finally Paying Off

And speaking of workplace violence and assaults against those who are defending our way of life, last year I wrote a post about Republican politicians promoting violence against judges because of their decision on Terry Schiavo and other decisions that right-wingers didn't like.

Remember Tom Delay (ex R-TX):
"Mrs. Schiavo's death is a moral poverty and a legal tragedy. This loss happened because our legal system did not protect the people who need protection most, and that will change. The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior, but not today.
And also from Texas, we had Senator John Cornyn:
I don't know if there is a cause-and-effect connection but we have seen some recent episodes of courthouse violence in this country. Certainly nothing new, but we seem to have run through a spate of courthouse violence recently that's been on the news. And I wonder whether there may be some connection between the perception in some quarters on some occasions where judges are making political decisions yet are unaccountable to the public, that it builds up and builds up and builds up to the point where some people engage in -- engage in violence.
I wonder.

Well, it seems that their wishes may finally be coming true:
Threats against federal judges are on a record-setting pace this year, nearly 18 months after the family of a federal judge was killed in Chicago.

U.S. Marshals, who protect the nation's 2,200 federal judges, believe they averted another potential tragedy in the Midwest last year when they helped block the release of a prison inmate who told a judge in a series of sexually charged letters that he was going to take her away.

Threats and inappropriate communications have quadrupled over 10 years ago. There were 201 reported such incidents in the 1996 government spending year and 943 in the year that ended Sept. 30, the Marshals Service said.

This year alone, the Marshals Service has had 822 reports of inappropriate communications and threats, a pace that would top 1,000 for the year.
Why fight terrorism abroad, when there's so much to do here.

Via Attywood.

Maryland Prison in "Full Crisis" Following Killing Of Officer

One area of occupational safety that we don't cover much here are the work hazards experienced by correctional officers, or as some know them, prison guards.

The hazards of that job hit the headlines in the Baltimore/Washington DC area last week with the murder of a correctional officer at the House of Correction in Jessup, Maryland. It was the second correctional officer killed on the job in Maryland over the past year.
David McGuinn, 42, was counting inmates alone in the maximum-security prison late Tuesday when he was attacked and stabbed several times in the neck and back, said Maj. Priscilla Doggett, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Division of Correction.


The Maryland House of Correction, built in 1878, has been wracked by violence in recent months. Three inmates have been killed there since May, and inmates assaulted two officers in April. Doggett said officials don't believe the assaults were related, but they are investigating that possibility.
While at AFSCME, I had to investigate several incidents that occurred in prisons. And whether you're touring the cell blocks, or attending a meeting in the building, they're creepy places. But despite the fact that your job is to oversee dangerous prisoners, the hazards of correctional institutions are no different than other workplace hazards: they're well known and their are well-recognized systems that can be put in place to minimize or eliminate them. In other words, as with most workplace safety and health problems, injuries and fatalities in correctional institutions are laregely preventable if management is doing what needs to be done.
Understaffing, unreliable equipment and poor leadership are among the problems contributing to deteriorating working conditions at the prisons, union representatives claimed.

"When you have more inmates, more dangerous inmates, it's the wrong time to cut the number of security employees, which this administration has done," said Sue Esty, legislative director of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 92.

For Maryland Correctional Institution officer Kenny Neely, conditions in the prisons have made going to work miserable.

"It used to be something I was proud of. I'm not anymore. It's just a job," Neely said. Because the prison is short-staffed, Neely said he typically works 48 hours a week, including shifts on Friday, the first day of his weekend.
According to witnesses,
The inmates escaped from their cells despite a prisonwide lockdown, apparently by jamming the locks on their cell doors, and then returned to their cells after the attack, authorities have said. According to the documents, "a device commonly used by inmates to prevent their cell doors from locking" was found on the ground outside Harris's cell.

Ron Bailey, executive director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union, which represents corrections officers, confirmed yesterday that inmates at that facility and others "come up with all types of homemade devices" to jam locks. Decks of cards, tape and hard plastic objects of many kinds can be put to that use, Bailey said.

McGuinn, 42, was the second Maryland and the first to be killed inside a prison since 1984.
McGuinn was the second Maryland corrections officer to be killed this year. Roxbury Correctional Institution officer Jeffery A. Wroten was shot in the face with his own gun while guarding a prisoner as he underwent treatment at Washington County Hospital January 27.

Before this year, the last killing in the Maryland correction system occurred in 1984.
Union officials said that doesn't mean guards haven't been attacked in the past 22 years. Just a couple weeks ago, a guard was stabbed in the arm while trying to subdue an inmate in his cell.

Bernard W. Ralph Jr., president of the local AFSCME union, said officers always getting punched in the mouth and thrown down steps.

"You don't hear about that, but it happens everyday," Mr. Ralph said.
The Baltimore Sun is calling for the state to shut down the ancient prision, calling the situation a "full crisis."
When three inmates at the state's maximum-security House of Correction manage to foil a prison lockdown to murder a correctional officer, the Jessup prison has gone beyond troubled. It's in full crisis.

Officer David McGuinn was killed hours after state prison officials announced the appointment of a new warden at "The Cut," the prison's nickname. But changing a warden won't secure this prison. It's understaffed and ill-suited to an increasingly violent population; without a major state commitment, the warden won't be able to reform the prison culture there.

Officer McGuinn, 41, wasn't stabbed to death while breaking up a fight or subduing a fleeing felon. His murder was a targeted assassination. What's worse, shockingly so, is that prison officials had been warned of a possible attack on an officer. And still prisoners pulled it off.


Those are short-term fixes. The House of Correction, which dates to 1878, doesn't meet the housing needs of its hard-core inmates and offers no programming to constructively address their lengthy stays, which average about 10 years.

The state can't delay demolishing the prison any longer - it has been talked about for years - because it takes five years to build a maximum-security prison. Until then, prison officials should reduce the inmate-to-prison-guard ratio at the House of Correction and give priority to restoring its full complement of guards. But in a corrections system that is down 500 guards, securing one prison may come at the cost of another.
The officer's union, AFSCME, requested a meeting with Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich to discuss conditions in the prisons system. Ehrlich, a Republican, refused to meet with the union because he wanted to focus to remain on the family:
“The death of Officer McGuinn is a tragedy, and my heartfelt prayers go out to his family,” Ehrlich said in a statement. “His death is a reminder to us all of the danger that law enforcement professionals like Officer McGuinn face every day.”
In other words, prisoners are bad people, prisons are dangerous, what do you expect, let's move along:
Prison spokeswoman Maj. Priscilla Doggett said she “didn’t know why” the prison had seen such intense violence recently.

“We realize we’re trying to manage a population that is violent and given to committing acts of violence,” she said.
Yeah, shit happens.


One other point I forgot to make yesterday: You'll notice the complete absecne of any mention of OSHA in the coverage of this incident. Why? Aren't corrections officers workers? Aren't there plenty of policies and guidelines (even if no speicific OSHA standards) that describe measures that can be taken to prevent these incidents (e.g. staffing, working alone, etc?) Despite OSHA's forays into the area of workplace violence in the 1990's, they have been extemely reluctant to get involved in prison issues (unless officers are being exposed to chemicals from prison factories, or bloodborne pathogens.) When it comes to staffing, or dealing with "bad guys," as opposed to bad chemicals or bad germs, OSHA generally leaves the solutions and sanctions to the employers (prison officials) and state corrections officials, a practice that would not be tolerated when it comes to more common workplace hazards like machine guarding or exposure to chemicals.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Tragedy In Boston: Big Dolts Ignore Dig Bolts

As you're probably aware, a 12-ton concrete ceiling tile broke off and crushed a motorist in one of Boston's "Big Dig" tunnels a couple of weeks ago. An engineer who worked on the project says that he warned seven years ago that the bolts could not possibly hold the heavy ceiling panels.
John J. Keaveney in a starkly-worded two-page memo sent in 1999 to Robert Coutts, senior project manager for Modern Continental wrote that he could not "comprehend how this structure can withhold the test of time." Keaveney added: "Should any innocent State Worker or member of the Public be seriously injured or even worse killed as a result, I feel that this would be something that would reflect Mentally and Emotionally upon me, and all who are trying to construct a quality Project."

Keaveney, in an interview last night, said that after he raised the concern, his superiors at Modern Continental, the company then building the tunnel, and representatives from Bechtel/ Parsons Brinckerhoff, the private sector manager of the Big Dig, sought to reassure him. They told him that such a system had been tested and was proven to work.

He said Coutts told him, " `John, this is a tried and true method,' " he recalled. He also raised the concern in person with Bechtel/ Parsons Brinckerhoff officials in subsequent conversations, but they said simply that they were doing the work to design specifications and that the ceiling would hold.
And it wasn't his own engineering expertise that opened his eyes, but a question from a skeptical third grader:
He said he really began to worry about the ceiling after a third- grade class from his hometown of Norwell came to visit the Big Dig for a tour in spring 1999. He showed the class some concrete ceiling panels and pointed to the bolts protruding from the ceiling, explaining that the panels would one day hang from those bolts.

A third-grade girl raised her hand and asked him, "Will those things hold up the concrete?"

He started voicing concerns among his colleagues and then to managers after that. "It was like the [third-graders] had pointed out the emperor has no clothes," he said. "I said, `Yes, it would hold,' but then I thought about it."

He travels frequently and was in New York City on a job when Del Valle was killed. He returned to Boston July 12 and was watching the television news with this wife when the story came on.

"I said, `Oh, my God,' that's my job," he said.

Keaveney said he blames himself. "I am part of the problem," he said. "I failed to open my mouth. I failed to push the letter I wrote for results. I am partially responsible for the death of this mother."
But the problems were much bigger than just one man's failure to convince his superiors that something was wrong. A Washington Post story last weekend details the extensive system failures and lack of oversight that led to the disaster.
According to officials, government documents and people who shaped the project over the years, the Big Dig has not gone awry because its flaws were unknown. It has gone awry in spite of repeated warnings about its cost and design.

"It was nothing but problem after problem, and no one was looking, no one cared," said A. Joseph DeNucci, Massachusetts's longtime state auditor, whose office has since 1993 issued 20 critical reports about the Big Dig. "I get sick when I think about it."

In addition to the auditor's work, there were 13 negative reports during the project's first decade by the state inspector general. More recently, there have been hearings in Congress and the state legislature, and financial reviews by the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

"This has been the most investigated project in our history," said James A. Aloisi Jr., a former assistant state transportation secretary and general counsel to the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority.

The warnings were overshadowed, many officials now acknowledge, by zeal among politicians, business leaders, lobbyists and private contractors who had a stake in the project. That eagerness to move forward coincided with a political culture in which a series of Republican governors and the state's independent turnpike authority have trusted a private consultant to shepherd virtually every facet of the project, with relatively little government supervision. "What was missing from the whole project was outside oversight," said Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino (D).
In the 1980's, Massachusetts Secretary of Transportation Frederick P. Salvucci , concerned that the state workers would have a hard time overseeing the project, hired a private firm, Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff, to oversee construction and inspection of the project. The state would oversee the firm.

But when Republican Governor William Weld came into office, things changed -- for the worse:
The year construction began, Gov. William F. Weld (R) moved into the statehouse, possessing a faith in the private sector and a disdain for the state workers he derided as "walruses." Supervision waned. [MA state auditor A. Joseph] DeNucci, a prizefighter and a legislator before being elected state auditor in 1987, said: "The commonwealth abdicated its responsibility to Bechtel."

The federal government similarly was reducing its oversight of highway projects it funded. The year the Big Dig's construction began, a newly enacted federal law changed funding methods and eliminated detailed, periodic cost analyses by the Federal Highway Administration.
And the rest, as they say, is history, a history that has already cost one life.

Popcorn Workers Lung: OSHA's Strange Definition of "Emergency"

I wrote yesterday about the labor union petition to OSHA to issue and emergency temporary standard that would significantly reduce workers' exposure to diacetyl, an ingredient in butter flavoring that is causing "popcorn workers lung," or bronchiolitis obliterans, a serious and often fatal lung disorder that requires many affected workers to get lung transplants.

The unions -- the United Food and Commercial Workers and the Teamsters, along with a representative of the 42 scientists that signed a supporting letter held a press conference yesterday to officially announce the petition

"There is compelling scientific evidence that diacetyl causes terrible lung disease," said David Michaels of George Washington University's School of Public Health, who joined union officials on a conference call with reporters.

"OSHA has ignored the evidence and has done nothing," said Michaels, one of 42 scientists to urge Labor Secretary Elaine Chao in a letter to limit workers' exposure to diacetyl.
Because of the serious nature of popcorn lung and the fact that workers are still being exposed, the unions petitioned for an emergency standard, which is authorized under the OSHA Act if "employees are exposed to grave danger from toxic substances or new hazards," and if and emergency standard is "necessary to protect employees from such danger." Given that your average OSHA standard takes at least ten years from start to finish, and emergency standard seems appropriate.

OSHA, however, seems to have a rather different conception of the word "emergency."

Ruth McCully, who heads OSHA's Directorate for Science, Technology and Medicine, said the agency has yet to evaluate the unions' request for an "emergency temporary standard." She said evaluations of such requests can take up to two years.
So in a potential emergency situation (which generally means you have to act fast), it takes two years to determine if there's really grounds for an emergency? I'm glad she's not running my local ambulance service.

The Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association, an industry group, issued a statement saying it would support "any appropriate action that is based on sound science, including the establishment of a (permissible exposure limit) that will protect workers."

Now that might sound reassuring, until you note the use of the words "sound science." "Sound science" is code used by industry to pro-science clothing on policies that actually ignore, change, or selectively use science to fit industry’s political objective, generally to defeat or reverse environmental and public health and safety rules and protections. It has been used to fight federal action against smoking, ergonomics, global warming, oil and gas drilling in Alaska, stem cell research, missile defense and other issues (More on "sound science here, here and here.)

Michaels made the point at yesterday's press conference that although OSHA and the industry argue that more study is needed before regulating, the fact is that we know workers are gettign sick and dying and we how to protect them. More study is always welcome, but it's no excuse not to take immediate action to prevent harmful exposures now.

Meanwhile, Michaels also discussed a letter the group sent to EPA administrator Stephen Johnson to request the release of a study that EPA has conducted on diacetyl’s effects on consumers who may be exposed to the chemical when opening bags of popcorn. Michaels said that the EPA was holding the study pending internal and industry review. "Industry doesn't have the right to see the results of this study before consumers," Michaels said.

An EPA spokesperson said that the study wasn't going to tell us anything anyway.

Suzanne Ackerman, spokeswoman for the EPA, said her agency’s popcorn study is going through internal review and will be submitted for publication as soon as this fall.

But when it is released, it won’t say anything about exposure to consumers and what, if any, harm it causes, she said. The study is looking only at how much of the chemical is released when someone pops a bag.

"This isn’t a health effects study. It isn’t going to tell you anything," Ackerman said.
Well, that's reassuring.

Also participating in the press conference was a worker from the Jasper, Missouri popcorn plant where some of the first cases of popcorn workers lung were diagnosed:
Ed Pennell, one of the Jasper popcorn workers who filed suit and has since settled out of court for an undisclosed amount, said he and his fellow workers have been waiting for years for regulators to take action.

"We figured that as a result of the suit, something would be done about it, the government would take some action. But none of that has come about yet," Pennell told reporters on the conference call.

"Basically my lungs are shot," said Pennell, adding he is on a waiting list for a lung transplant.
Nope, no emergency here. Check back with us in a couple of years.

House Set To Do Harm To Chemical Plant Security

A House of Representatives committee votes this morning at 11:00 a.m. EST on a chemical plant security bill (H.R. 5695).

And when it comes to chemical plant security, the New York Times is pretty fed up with the chemical industry and Congress for kow-towing to the chemical industry's dislike for inherently safer production and their desire to pre-empt state protections that are stronger than the federal government's.

Nearly five years after Sept. 11, Congress has still not passed a law reducing the risk of mass casualties from an attack on a chemical plant. A bill has been slowly working its way through the Senate and the House, but the chemical industry is committed to making it so weak that it could actually make plants less safe. The House Homeland Security Committee is expected to vote tomorrow on two amendments that are important to making this a real chemical plant security bill.

The first amendment would require some high-risk chemical plants to replace the most dangerous chemicals with safer alternatives. It is a relatively mild proposal, since it does not cover all plants, and it gives the plants a large role in the decision about which safer technologies they should adopt. But the industry is fighting for its right to use whatever chemicals it deems best, or most profitable, no matter how much risk that poses to people who live, work and attend school nearby.

A second critical amendment would make clear that states have the right to regulate chemical plant safety more strictly than the federal government. The chemical industry wants the federal bill to expressly pre-empt, or invalidate, state safety rules. It says it wants a single national standard to avoid "confusion." But what the industry really wants is a weak national standard that prevents states from taking a more serious approach to the terrorist threat.

Tomorrow's votes will likely be decided by a few moderate Republicans, including Christopher Shays and Rob Simmons of Connecticut, and Curt Weldon and Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania. They could decide whether this important homeland security bill actually makes the nation more secure.

The House vote, by the way, is Thursday (today!) at 11:00 am. If any of these are your Congressmen, they could use a call if you've got a minute:

Rep. Christopher Shays (R-CT)
Rep. Rob Simmons (R-CT)
Rep. Curt Weldon (R-PA)
Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA)
Rep. Dave G. Reichert (R-WA)
Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA)

Tell them that:

The bill (H.R. 5695) the Subcommittee adopted July 11th is fatally flawed as it will do little to protect communities because:

  • It does NOT require the use of safer technologies to eliminate preventable disasters

  • It PRE-EMPTS states (NJ) & localities from establishing more protective programs

  • It contains NO meaningful role for labor in developing security plans

  • It does not cover drinking water facilities;

  • Only the high risk plants selected by the Department of Homeland Security are required to submit security plans for approval;
All congressional offices can be reached at the Capitol switchboard: (202) 224-3121

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

4th Possible Work-Related Heat Death In California

The Cal/OSHA Reporter reports yet another heat-related workplace death in California. This would bring the number to four this year.
The state Division of Occupational Safety and Health reports that a 38-year-old employee of Stamoules Produce of Mendota collapsed while packing corn in a Firebaugh field. The worker, who began his shift at 3 a.m. and was scheduled to finish at 1:30 p.m., was stricken at about noon in 111º F heat.
Yesterday, I reported on three others in California.

All of these heat-related workplace fatalities in California kind of makes me wonder. California is not the only hot state in the country, but it is the only state to issue a standard to prevent heat-related workplace deaths, and state authorities and the media are paying particularly close attention to this problem. One wonders, however, how many work-related deaths from heat are occurring in other states that aren't paying close attention. I wonder how many of these are labeled heart attacks or some variation of "natural causes?"

Unions Petition OSHA To Deal With Slow-Motion Chemical Disaster

We've become accustomed in this country to framing disasters as single events involving the deaths of numerous workers such as Sago or the BP Texas City explosion. But the deadly damage caused to the lungs of hundreds of workers in this country by a butter-flavoring chemical can only be called a slow-motion disaster. And while OSHA fiddles, the damage to workers' lungs continues.

Two labor unions, the United Food and Commercial Workers and the Teamsters, along with forty of the nation's leading experts in environmental and occupational health, are petitioning the Occupational Safety and Health Administration today for an Emergency Temporary Standard to prevent workers from being exposed to diacetyl, a butter flavoring chemical that has caused a deadly lung disease known as "popcorn lung" among workers in microwave popcorn facilities and other factories where flavorings are used.

According to the UFCW press release

"Three workers have died and hundreds of others have been seriously injured. We will not let food processing workers continue to be the canaries in the coal mine while waiting for the industry to regulate itself," said Jackie Nowell, UFCW Safety & Health Director.

"The science is clear. Now it is time for the Department of Labor to employ their regulatory mandate and protect the public," said Lamont Byrd, Teamster Safety & Health Director

According to the unions, about seventy U.S. companies are involved in the making and marketing of flavorings.
More than 8,000 workers are employed in the flavorings production industry and may be exposed to the dangers of diacetyl and other similar chemicals, and tens of thousands of food processing workers are involved in the production of popcorn, pastries, frozen foods, and candies which uses these chemicals. Even dog food contains this harmful chemical. It is not clear whether consumers are at risk from exposure to diacetyl but certainly the workers who deal with high concentrations of the flavoring chemical are at risk of developing serious and irreversible lung damage.
The petition calls for an airborne exposure limit, respirators for workers exposed above the limit, medical surveillance and airborne monitoring. The petition also calls for OSHA to issue an educational bulletin to all employers and employees, conduct inspections where workers are exposed, and to begin work on a permanent standard covering all food flavorings.

In a Confined Space post about the ravages caused by diacetyl, I asked more than two years ago why OSHA hadn't considered an emergency temporary standard (ETS). OSHA has the ability to issue an ETS if the Assistant Secretary determines that "employees are exposed to grave danger from exposure to substances or agents determined to be toxic or physically harmful or from new hazards." An ETS also serves as a proposed standard until the final standard is issued which must be done within six months. OSHA has rarely used this provision of the act, even in the rare case that the agency has issued an ETS, the courts have often overturned it. No successful ETS has been issued in over 25 years.

The hazards of diacetyl first came to public attention in a 2002 USA Today article. In 2004, thirty workers at a Jasper Missouri popcorn processing plant who had suffered severe lung damage sued the maker of the chemical flavoring, International Flavors & Fragrances, because the Material Safety Data Sheet for the butter flavoring said "Respiratory protection: none generally required" and that respirators were not normally required unless vapor concentrations were "high."

The workers were suffering from what has become known as "popcorn workers lung," or bronchiolitis obliterans—a severe, disabling, and often fatal lung disease experienced by factory workers who produce or handle diacetyl. Many of these workers were so sick that they were awaiting lung transplants. Three workers have died. The tragedy was that the chemical company BASF had known since 1993 that the chemcal caused severe lung damage in rats. After several workers won multimillion dollar lawsuits, the company settled with the rest of the workers.

"Astonishingly Grotesque" Health Effects

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) studied the chemical after the workers's health effects became known, finding that the buttery popcorn flavoring eats away at the coating of the lung's airways and is one of the worst lung toxins they had ever seen:
One scientist, research physiologist Jeffrey Fedan, used the words "astonishingly grotesque" to describe the toxic effect of diacetyl, a key ingredient in the flavoring.

Vincent Castranova, chief of NIOSH's pathology and physiology research branch, said that the effect of breathing butter flavoring vapors could be likened to inhaling acid.

"The airway response is the worst we've ever seen," Castranova said. And that's comparing it to a catalogue of notorious respiratory toxins such as asbestos and coal dust.
Then last April, journalist Andrew Schneider described in the Baltimore Sun how workers are still getting sick and dying, while federal and state agencies whose job it is to address these hazards are falling down on the job. Schneider examined the failure of OSHA and California's CalOSHA to address the problem, despite that fact that aggressively tackling chemical hazards that kill workers is exactly what these agencies were created to do. OSHA refused to consider a new regulation that would protect workers from exposure to diacetyl, despite urging by OSHA scientists in 2002 and 2003 to take further action. George Washington University Professor David Michaels called "criminal."

Even the doctor who first diagnosed "popcornworker's lung" is disgusted, according to the Baltimore Sun:
In 2000, Dr. Allen Parmet, an occupational medicine specialist, diagnosed bronchiolitis obiterans in workers in Missouri, the first time that the disease had been found in a popcorn plant.

"We identified the hazard from diacetyl six years ago. We knew how to stop it four years ago, yet no action has been taken by OSHA," said Parmet, who has diagnosed the disease in more than 100 workers, including several who did not work in popcorn plants.
And, as the Sacramento Bee reports,
Relatively few of these food-processing and flavoring workers are unionized. Many of the estimated hundreds in California flavoring plants are immigrants and speak primarily Spanish.

"Who is looking out for them?" Nowell said.
In California, Cal/OSHA officials announced that they are now considering the unions' request, according to the Bee:
California job safety regulators said the link between the butter-flavoring chemical and workers' lung damage is strong enough to warrant regulation.

"It's certainly a discussion that needs to happen," said Len Welsh, acting director of the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Welsh said Tuesday he will propose a regulation similar to the unions' proposed "permissible exposure limit" for the butter-mimicking chemical, called diacetyl.

Meanwhile, the majority of the estimated 25 flavoring companies operating in California are "voluntarily" examining workers' health and inspecting their plants in exchange for avoiding Cal-OSHA inspections and possible citations, Welsh said.

Under the arrangement formalized in May, the companies must share the results with regulators and allow enforcers to visit their operations to ensure protections are in place.

"We're not leaving it to industry to police itself," Welsh said.

"We're going to be getting into every one of those plants ourselves."

The first California victim, reported in 2004, is a young father of two who worked as a mixer at Mission Flavors & Fragrances near Mission Viejo in Orange County.

Cal-OSHA fined Mission Flavors $45,575 in January 2005 for several violations, including "failure to report illness," and found that the worker "became ill because employer failed to implement proper controls and respiratory equipment," agency records show.

The company is appealing the enforcement action.

The other California victim is a mother of three in her early 40s who mixed flavoring components at Carmi Flavor & Fragrance near Los Angeles.
Among the occupational safety and health experts who signed a supporting letter are former Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, Eula Bingham; former OSHA official (and whistle-blower) Adam Finkel, former EPA Assistant Administrator Lynn Goldman, George Washington University Professor (and former Department of Energy Assistant Secretary) David Michaels, former NIOSH director Anthony Robbins, and University of Washington Professor (and former OSHA policy director) Michael Silverstein.

Even the industry seems more favorable toward a standard, according to the Bee:
A flavoring trade group spokesman said his member companies support an OSHA limit for diacetyl, a naturally occurring chemical in butter and other foods that is synthesized and highly concentrated for economy.

The industry had viewed the diacetyl-lung disease link as an open question until the second California victim surfaced in May, said John Hallagan, an attorney for the 120-member Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association.

But, now, Hallagan said, "this issue needs to be reviewed again, and that's what we plan to do."

Lesson Not Yet Learned

The entire "popcorn lung" disaster shows that workers in this country are still the proverbial canaries in the coal mine. The health effects of chemicals aren't adequately studied, and when they are, the results are hidden -- until someone notices that workers are starting to get sick and die. These workers were "lucky" in a way because diaceyl left its "fingerprint" on his lungs in a relatively short period of time. Had the damage caused by the chemical masked itself as some more common "lifestyle" disease, it may never have been linked back to their working conditions.

Finally, the policy and practice of considering chemicals to be innocent until proven guilty - by the lungs and bodies of workers -- must end. I have written often about REACH, the European Union's proposal to gather and report the quantity, uses and potential health effects of approximately 30,000 chemicals, and about the defects of the U.S. Toxic Substances Control Act. We must call on the U.S. Government to not only stop lobbying against the European proposal, but to advocate for a similar law here.

Related Articles About Popcorn Lung

Also more information on Diacetyl at

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

BP Kills Refinery Safety?

It's rare these days that you see a headline this honest.

Actually, I can't tell if this was a Freudian slip, a joke that someone didn't catch, or a solemn message from the editors of station KGBT 4 in the Rio Grande Valley. This headline appeared today in a story on the recent death of a contract employee at BP's Texas City refinery:

Given the serious workplace safety, environmental and corruption problems that the giant oil company has experienced over the past couple of years, the headline may be depressingly accurate.

In other BP developments, Chief Executive Lord John Browne announced that
  • The company enjoyed a $7.3 billion profit for the second quarter of this year, which comes to about $3.3 million an hour.

  • BP will add another $1 billion to the $6 billion already earmarked over the next four years to upgrade all aspects of safety at its U.S. refineries and to repair and replace infield pipelines in Alaska.

  • He will retire at the end of 2008. We wish him luck, being assured that he's well equipped to enjoy his retirement.

Third Possible Heat-Related Death In California

Cal/OSHA Reporter reveals that Cal/OSHA is in the process of investigating heat related workplace deaths.
In the wake of two investigations begun on suspected heat-illness-related deaths in California's sizzling Central Valley, Cal-OSHA Reporter has learned that the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) has begun an investigation in Sonoma County following the death of a pizza delivery driver yesterday.

DOSH reports that a 67-year-old employee of MJ's Pizza, Inc., of Santa Rosa (a Domino's franchise), was reported late to a delivery and was found in his vehicle suffering from heat stroke by passersby in another area of the city late Monday afternoon. The franchise was informed of his death about 8:30 p.m. July 24. His identify has not been made available yet.

Sonoma County, like much of the rest of the state, has been sweltering in the extended heat wave, and has seen triple-digit temperatures for several days.

The two other possible heat-related deaths occurred in Bakersfield and Fresno July 19 and 20, respectively. In Bakersfield, 38-year-old Joaquin Ramirez, an employee of Raul Hidalgo Lawn Services died after only three days on the job. He reportedly was loading grass clippings onto a truck when he collapsed.

The Fresno incident took the life of 49-year-old Benadino Gomez, who worked for Valley Pool and Plastering. He died the night of July 20 while working at a site in Kerman. He had been laboring in 109º F temperatures.
California recently passed a workplace standard to prevent heat-related illnesses in response to thirteen heat-related deaths in the state last summer.

The standard requires employers to provide workers access to drinking water of at least one quart per hour for the entire shift. It also requires employers to provide shade for employees who are either suffering from heat illness or who need a "preventive recovery period." Non-agriculture industries are allowed to provide alternative cooling methods, such as misting machines. The standard also requires workers to be trained on the risk factors for heat illness, how to avoid it, the employer's procedures for complying with the standard and emergency procedures if an employee becomes ill.

The standard came under criticism for leaving it up to workers to complain about their symptoms, which they may not do, fearing retaliation or a lower pay if, for example, they're being paid by the amount of fruit picked.

Monday, July 24, 2006

At $800 a Day , Stickler Sitting Pretty Over At MSHA


Ellen Smith at Mine Safety News has corrected this information. $143,000 is Stickler's annual salary, but he's only been hired for six months, meaning he will be making half of this figure.

My apologies. It turns out that it's possible for bloggers to make mistakes.

Ellen also adds this:
On another note, one reader asked why this was even a story when both Dave Lauriski and Davitt McAteer both had similar contracts while they waited for their appointments as Assistant Secretaries. The difference is that McAteer and Lauriski did not have holds on their nominations (they were waiting for paperwork clearances) and they were going to get U.S. Senate approval, while Stickler's nomination does have a hold in the Senate.

Richard Stickler may not have been confirmed by the Senate to head the Mine Safety and Health Administration, but he's not going to be hurting financially in his "interim" job as a "Senior Advisor" to Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao.

Mine Safety and Health News (subscription required) reports that
Labor Dept. records show that Stickler was hired as a "Senior Advisor" for a term not to exceed 180 days. His salary is $143,000 for that time period -- a little less than $800 per day -- $794.44 to be exact.

According to the information released by the department, Stickler is serving as a senior advisor "on sensitive issues and critical matters pertaining to policies, priorities, and program direction of the Department of Labor and to its structure, organization and operation." He is supposed to be reviewing and analyzing "key, emerging issues of direct and substantial interest and concern," to Labor Secretary Elaine Chao and the Bush Administration.

The document released by the Labor Dept. states that Stickler's principal duties and responsibilities include conducing "numerous complex and high-priority special assignments... involving extensive research, fact-finding and program improvements on a variety of high-level subjects of critical importance to the department." It's his job to determine "the nature of background information, and data, levels of coordination and consultation, format of presentation, etc." It is also his job to make sure that Chao has the necessary information "for decision making on highly sensitive and controversial issues."
Mine Safety and Health News received the information under a Freedom of Information Request to the agency. Stickler was hired as a DOL "advisor" after a vote on his Senate confirmation had to be cancelled due to the fact that there weren't enough votes to confirm the former mine industry executive.

Senate Restores OSHA Worker Training Grant Funds

What would you pay to protect a worker's life? According to George Bush, it would be about $7.25.

The United States Senate passed its version of the Labor, Health and Education FY 2007 Appropriations bill last week and for the sixth straight year, Senators restored the Susan Harwood worker training funds that the administration was attempting to cut or eliminate. The bill also keeps alive OSHA's "Institutional Competency" grants that were originally awarded during the last years of the Clinton administration, and focus heavily on training for immigrant workers.

Senate report language stated that
The Committee believes that OSHA's worker safety and health training and education programs, including the grant program that supports such training, are a critical part of a comprehensive approach to worker protection. The Committee is concerned that OSHA has again cut funding to help establish ongoing worker safety and health training programs and has therefore restored the Susan Harwood training grant program to $10,116,000. Bill language specifies that no less than $3,200,000 shall be used to maintain the existing institutional competency building training grants, provided that grantees demonstrate satisfactory performance.
While the administration continues in its attempts to cut worker training money, funds for compliance assistance programs for employers continue to increase. Total funding for all compliance assistance programs to $130 million in FY 2007, while worker training grants remain at $10.1 million. The House has appropriated only $5 million for the Harwood grants, although traditionally the Senate version has prevailed.

Meanwhile, both the Senate and the House have expressed concern that OSHA has still not issued its stamdard requireing employers to pay for personal protective equipment like boots and gloves. The Senate stated that
The Committee is dissatisfied with the lack of progress on OSHA's regulation concerning Employer Payment for Personal Protective Equipment, the public comment period for which ended over 7 years ago. This is particularly important for Hispanic workers and immigrant workers who experience a disproportionate and growing number of injuries and fatalities. The Committee expects the Secretary to report to the Committee within 30 days of enactment of this act, the definitive status of this regulation, the agency's reasons for not issuing the regulation sooner, and a timetable for its issuance.
OSHA's total budget in the Senate bill for FY'07 is $491,167,000, $5,116,000 more than the House approved and $7,500,000 over the President's budget request. The FY 2006 budget was $472,427. Since the Bush Administration took office in 2001, they have reduced OSHA staff by 197 positions, from 2370 Full Time Equivalents (FTEs) in FY 2001 to 2173 FTEs proposed for FY 2007. The majority of these staff cuts have been in the standards and federal enforcement programs.

The AFL-CIO estimates that if you combine the President's budget request for OSHA, MSHA and NIOSH, the Bush Administration proposes to spend less than $7.25 per worker to protect American workers from job injuries, illnesses and death.

The Senate approved a $302,436,000 budget for MSHA, an increase of $14,600,000 over the Administration's request, and $23,567,000 more than the House allowance. The Senate expressed concern with the high number of fatalities in the nation's coal fields.
The Committee continues to be concerned by the over 40 percent increase in fatalities experienced in coal mines in the first 6 months of 2006. In the past 5 years, from fiscal year 2001 to fiscal year 2006, the coal enforcement division of MSHA reduced staff by 217 FTE. It was for that reason that the Committee included an additional $25,600,000 in Public Law 109-234 to recruit, hire, train and equip coal mine inspectors and restore the office to its fiscal year 2001 staffing level.
For more information about the Bush Administration's other budget cuts in the Labor/HHS appropriations bill, check out the AFL-CIO Today.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Worker Killed At BP Texas City Plant

A contract worker was killed at BP's Texas City Refinery, the same plant that saw the deaths of 15 workers from an explosion last year.
Based on reports provided to public safety officials in Texas City, the contractor was part of a JV Piping crew that was installing a pipe rack in preparation for connection to a flare. The work was being done in the eastern part of the refinery near the Aromatics Recovery Unit.

BP has been in the process of removing blowdown stack pressure-relief systems and replacing them with flares. That work was prompted by a fatal series of explosions last March at the refinery that was partially blamed on the use of the outdated blowdown system as a way to relieve pressure build up.

The worker who was killed was in a basket of a telescopic lift, which is a work basket attached to the end of a hydraulic arm that can be controlled by the person in the basket or from the ground. The contractor who was killed was believed to be in control of the unit at the time of the accident.

He was killed when he became pinned against the pipe rack as he was attempting to move.
Because the worker was an employee of the contractor (JV Piping) and not BP, the fatality will not go on BP's OSHA log. That's because companies are required by OSHA only to keep logs of the employees on their payroll; employees of contractors working at the site go on logs of the employer of the contractor, which often aren't even in the same industry as the main employer. All 15 of the workers killed in last year's explosion were also contract workers.

The Houston Chronicle discussed this problem in an article last year. The main problem with this kind fo reporting process is that OSHA focuses its inspection targeting on industries with high numbers of injuries, illnesses and fatalities, and the most dangerous companies within those industries. As companies give their most dangerous work to contractors, they increase the chance that their company and their industry can stay off OSHA's targeting list.

But looking at fatalities on the entire site, rather than just on BP's payroll, things don't look so good:
Friday’s fatality marked the 18th person killed at the BP Texas City facility in two years. In September 2004, two men were killed when a pipe burst and struck them with super heated water. In March 2005, a series of explosions ripped through a unit and killed 15 people

Weekly Toll: Death In The American Workplace

Worker Crushed By Falling Trailer

MEAD VALLEY, Calif. A trucker died after being crushed by a trailer he was working on. The accident occurred about 2 p.m. at a thoroughbred horse property in the 21800 block of Webster Avenue.

Jeremy Mattsen of Bajo Trucking was crushed when the double-wide mobile home trailer he was working on, shifted and fell on top of him. He suffered injuries to his head, chest and legs and died a short time later at Riverside County Regional Medical Center in Moreno Valley.

California Investigating Second Possible Workplace Heat Death

Fresno County's first heat-related death of the summer may have occurred Thursday. The State Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board announced Monday it is investigating a Kerman work site death.

Benadino Gomez, a 49-year-old employee of Valley Pool Plastering in Fresno, died after working in 109-degree weather, according to the Cal/OSHA. He had worked for the company for four years.

Thirteen workers died of heat-related causes in California in 2005, and

Cal/OSHA spokesman Dean Fryer said Gomez's death prompted the agency's second investigation of a possible heat-linked death this year. The agency also is investigating last week's death of a Bakersfield lawn service worker who had been on the job for three days.

Contractor becomes second death at Meijer in three days

Cincinnati, OH - A second person has died in three days at Meijer, 1500 Hillcrest Ave. Marek Lasota, 28, of Parma, was electrocuted early Thursday morning, according to Clark County Coroner’s Office investigator Roger Burk. Lasota was a contract worker doing electrical work on an elevated platform inside the store around 2 a.m., according to police reports. A witness heard a loud crash and called up to Lasota but got no response. Paramedics found him face down, unresponsive and not breathing on the platform with severe burns on both hands, indicating an electrocution, according to the report. An active circuit was found in the light fixture where Lasota was working, according to the report. He was taken to Mercy Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

An investigator from the Cincinnati area Occupational Health and Safety was in the store looking into the death throughout the day, OSHA Area Director Dick Gilgriest said. “You don’t normally think of retail stores as a high-hazard area,” Gilgriest said. Stacie Behler, Meijer vice president of Corporate Communications Public Affairs, said the store is cooperating with local officials in the investigation. “The store in particular recognizes the tragedy and hopes for the best for the young man’s family,” Behler said from Meijer headquarters based in Grand Rapids, Mich. This is the second death at Meijer this week. Brandyn Turner, 16, of Cincinnati, died after he was apparently hit by a delivery truck driven by his father, Randall Turner, on Tuesday afternoon.

BP contractor killed in accident at refinery, Man employed by JV Piping was pinned between a lift bucket, steel

Texas City, TX - A contract worker died Friday after an industrial accident at BP's Texas City refinery. The worker, who was employed by JV Piping, died when the lift bucket he was in got pinned against some structural steel, said BP spokesman Ronnie Chappell. "It appears that the basket was moving and as it was moving, he was pinned against some structural steel and suffered injuries related to that," Chappell said.

Pike man killed on surface mine

Freeburn, KY - A Pike County coal miner was killed Thursday when the road grader he was operating ran over him, officials said. 39, of Hardy, was pronounced dead about 8:50 p.m. at the Central Appalachian Mining Slate Branch surface mine at Freeburn, said Chuck Wolfe, spokesman for the Office of Mine Safety and Licensing. The accident was reported to OMSL at 8:30, an hour after the accident occurred, Wolfe said. A new law that went into effect last week requires mining companies to report an accident or life-threatening situation to mine safety officials within 15 minutes of the incident. “Whether this accident was properly reported will be a point of the investigation,” Wolfe said.

Construction worker killed at Anthem construction site

Henderson, NV - An accident Thursday at a construction site in the Anthem community in Henderson claims a life. A worker was killed at a site near Sun City Anthem Parkway and Preston Park at around 9 in the morning. Police say the man was killed when a water truck ran over him. OSHA is investigating the incident. No further information about the victim or the accident has been released yet.

Three possible heat related deaths in Kern County

Bakersfield, CA - The Coroner’s Office is investigating the deaths of three people as possible heat related deaths. Supervisor for the Coroner’s Division John Van Rensselaer said a Bakersfield gardener might have been the latest to die after being exposed to the heat. Cal/OSHA is also investigating the death of the man who may have died from exposure to heat Wednesday while working as a gardener. According to the Labor and Workforce Development Agency in Sacramento, Joaquin Ramirez, 38, died Wednesday night while on the job. He was an employee of Raul Hidalgo Lawn Services and Supervisor for the Coroner’s Division John Van Rensselaer said Ramirez had been loading grass clippings into a work truck in front of a home in northwest Bakersfield when he collapsed.

Worker crushed at Cumming mulching yard

CUMMING, GA - A man was crushed to death Thursday in Forsyth County when loose dirt collapsed and the machine he was operating overturned. Coroner Lauren McDonald III said the 51-year-old Gwinnett County man was packing dirt for a road at a mulching company on Shiloh Road. "The hill collapsed and the compactor rolled down the hill," McDonald said. "He was entrapped under the compactor. Co-workers found him under the compactor and extricated him with a loader." McDonald said the man was pronounced dead at the scene.

Construction accident kills man, 70

A Grand Prairie worker died from injuries suffered when a track hoe ran over him at a school elementary construction site Monday morning.

Francisco Iraheta, 70, of Grand Prairie walked behind a large Komatsu PC 300 LC track hoe at the Reba Cobb Elementary construction site, 4380 Thornhill Drive, and stepped onto the track hoe's back just as his son Juan Iraheta, 36, swung the cab around, according to a Frisco police report.

The quick movement knocked the older man off the machine and onto the ground. The son then began backing the vehicle up, not knowing his father was on the ground. Though he had looked in the track hoe's mirrors before turning around, he did not see his father behind him.

The son was signaled by the driver of a ready mix truck to stop and pull forward again.

Rig blast victim ID’d

GRAND ISLE, LA — A Teche Area man killed in an oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico Saturday has been identified.

Jefferson Parish Coroner’s Office officials said Jerry Fitch, 41, of St. Martinville, died in the accident.

Nighttime construction worker killed

A construction worker died Monday morning after being hit by a car while trying to cross U.S. Highway 290.

Police identified the man as Zeferino Velarde, 29. His shift had already ended and he was leaving work for the night.

It's not unusual to have workers on State Highway 130 in the middle of the night. It's expensive and sometimes dangerous to build a road that way, but it has one huge advantage -- it doesn't tie up traffic during rush hour.

Traffic along Highway 290 is usually fast and furious. But it ground to a halt just before 3:30 a.m. Monday when a Cadillac heading toward Austin struck a construction worker attempting to cross the highway.

Pawn shop worker found dead in Killeen fire

Killeen, TX - A 25-year-old Killeen pawn shop employee was found dead Friday after a fire at her workplace. Shortly after 1 p.m., Killeen fire and police personnel were called to Speedy Pawn Shop #1, 718 W. Rancier Drive, after receiving a call about a structure fire. When officers arrived, smoke was seen coming from the building and witnesses said an employee might be inside, according to Lt. Michael Click of the Killeen Police Department. Patrol officers tried to enter the building but were forced out by the heavy smoke, Click said. When firefighters arrived soon after, they went inside and found a body near the back of the store. The victim was identified as Kathy Parker, of Killeen. She was pronounced dead at the scene, Click said. A preliminary investigation determined that the fire appeared to be intentionally set, although Click said a final ruling will not be made until a full investigation is complete.

Was noise a factor in shooting death, Police study whether worker heard officer

Charlotte, NC - Noisy air conditioning could have played a role in the fatal police shooting of an on-duty telecommunications employee, according to police and people who work at cell phone tower sites. A Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer on Thursday fatally shot Anthony Wayne Furr, 41, a father of two. The shooting followed a confrontation at the southeast Charlotte cell tower where Furr was working.Extreme weather suspected in death

Springfield, MO - The extreme heat Tuesday likely contributed to the death of a Phelps County man found dead on his tractor. Herman Eugene Willy, 75, a retired farmer, was found slumped on his tractor by a family member about noon Tuesday, according the Phelps County Sheriff's Department. Emergency responders were called to the scene but were unable to resuscitate Willy, who had a number of pre-existing medical conditions that may been exacerbated by the heat.

Construction Worker Killed Working In Baltimore

BALTIMORE, MD -- has learned a construction worker has died after suffering injuries while on the job Tuesday.

The incident happened at Wimpey Minerals on 2120 Annapolis Road in downtown Baltimore shortly after 2 p.m. Officials say one man was killed and another taken to Shock Trauma after being trapped on a conveyor belt.

It's not certain yet how the worker died and how he became trapped on a conveyor belt.

Man dies in fall while cutting a tree

SENECA FALLS, N.Y. A Seneca County man is dead after falling from a bucket truck while cutting a tree.

Police in Seneca Falls say 52-year-old Douglas Reukauf of Ovid fell about 20 feet. He was trying to cut a branch at a job in Seneca Falls when the bucket bounced up and down and he fell out.

Palmer man dies after work site accident

Palmer, AK -- A 26-year-old Palmer man has died from injuries sustained in a work-site accident. Alaska State Troopers say Jedadiah Simac was hurt while working with heavy equipment near the Mat-Su Regional Medical Center Tuesday morning.

DMV inspector killed during test

OTAY MESA – A Department of Motor Vehicles inspector was killed while conducting a driving test yesterday.

The employee and the 23-year-old man taking the test were in a Toyota Corolla driving east on Palm Avenue at Picador Boulevard/Beyer Way at 1:40 p.m. when the accident occurred. The Toyota had stopped at the Otay Mesa intersection when it was struck from behind by a Buick sport utility vehicle in the same lane, police said.

The driving inspector was pronounced dead at the scene. He was identified last night by the Medical Examiner's Office as David Gallegos, 32, of Chula Vista.

Pike County miner dies after being hit by his road grader

PIKEVILLE, Ky. -- A Pike County miner has been killed in a machinery accident, the second surface-mining death in Kentucky this week, state officials said yesterday.

John May, 39, of Hardy, a road-grader operator, was struck by his machine about 7:30 p.m. EDT Thursday as it rolled backward "at a high rate of speed" at Cam Mining's Slate Branch Mine at Freeburn, according to the state's accident report.

3 Sought After Worker Killed For No Apparent Reason

Orange County, FL -- Authorities in Orange County, Fla., are searching for three men who stormed into a business, robbed everyone inside, then shot and killed an employee for no apparent reason, according to a Local 6 News report.

Investigators said the men entered the Cash Register Auto Insurance building located on South Orange Blossom Trail just after 6 p.m. Friday and demanded money.

Police said as the men left the building, they opened fire and hit Anthony Ortiz, 22.


State officials are investigating a trench collapse that killed one worker (Gerardo Martinez Birrueta, 25) and injured another at an Avondale job site.

The second worker was rescued and was taken to a Valley hospital for treatment of a leg injury, authorities said.

The industrial accident took place about 10:15 a.m. Monday in a trench, about 12 to 15 feet deep, at a site on Dysart Road, north of Thomas Road near Estrella Mountain Community College.

Officials did not immediately identify either victim or their employer, but said an investigation in under way.

Knott miner killed in rock collapse

HINDMAN (AP) - A Knott County miner was killed Tuesday when the highwall of a surface mine collapsed on him as he operated a drill, a state official said.

The body of Jason Mosley, 28, of Hindman, was recovered about 11 a.m. at the Hendrickson Equipment Inc., Smith Branch No. 1 mine near Hindman, said Chuck Wolfe, spokesman for the Office of Mine Safety and Licensing.

Worker killed Friday is identified

St. Louis, MO -- The construction worker crushed after high winds blew steel on him on Friday has been identified as Eric L. Foskett, 42, of High Ridge. St. Louis police say Foskett was a dump-truck driver working in the 7500 block of MacKenszie Road in Affton about 11 a.m. Friday. Wind toppled steel used to shore up trenches, pinning him in a trench.

Livery cab driver shot and killed Police treating this as an ambush robbery

Newark, NJ-- In Newark, there is a heart breaking story of the murder of a livery cab driver. The victim was new to this country, and was helping his family back home with money. Carolina Tarazona has the story.

Cops here believe Angel Calva may have actually been set up by his own attacker. He was shot and killed on the streets of Newark early this morning. He leaves behind two children.

He was found dead early this morning, shot inside of his cab while waiting to pick up a passenger on North Sixth Street in Newark. They got a call before midnight and the caller gave no call back number or destination.

Driver is killed after truck rolls over him

MAULDIN, SC - A tow truck driver has been killed after the dump truck he was trying to hook up rolled over him, authorities say.

John Michael Garrett, 49, died Thursday. Several workers said they saw him loading the truck, then returned to find him pinned underneath its back wheels, Greenville County deputy coroner Karie Cain said.

Mr. Garrett had worked for towing company Kellett's Korner for about 20 years, the coroner said.

Worker dies when former theater wall collapses

Southern Shores, NC -- A construction worker was killed Thursday when a structural wall fell on him in the Outer Banks, authorities said.

Emergency workers were on the scene of the industrial accident at the Marketplace Shopping Center in Southern Shores, N.C., where a former movie theater is undergoing renovation, WAVY-TV 10 reported.

The wall fell on the worker, trapping and killing him. The wall was part of the roof support system, and two large air conditioning units are situated on the roof adjacent to where the wall was located.

Worker dies in fall from drilling rig

FORT WORTH, TX — A roughneck whose harness was not attached to a safety line fell to his death from a drilling rig in northeast Fort Worth early Friday.

Charles Mannon, 38, of Fort Worth died about 3:15 a.m. at the drilling site in the 5500 block of Bailey Boswell Road, the Tarrant County medical examiner’s office reported.

Mannon worked for Cheyenne Drilling, which is operating at the site through a contract with XTO Energy, said Mike Talmont, assistant area director for the Fort Worth office of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Dairy Farmer Found Dead in Manure Pit

Fresno, CA -- A dairy owner died when his tractor sank into a manure pit, Fresno County authorities said Thursday.

Jose Iraizoz, 64, was riding his tractor between two open pits Tuesday when the wheels apparently slipped into about 5 feet of sludge. By the time help arrived, Iraizoz had been in the manure too long to have survived, Sheriff's Lt. Mark Padilla said.

His body was recovered Wednesday morning.

Flowery Branch father of four crushed while delivering pizza oven

Atlanta, GA -- It wasn't supposed to be a dangerous job.

Richard Hall Jr., a father of four who played bass guitar in his church band, died early Thursday while delivering a 1,750-pound pizza oven in Woodstock. Hall was killed just before 1 a.m. when the oven he was helping deliver to a Papa John's Pizza restaurant on Trickum Road fell off a truck lift and crushed him.

At the victim's Flowery Branch home, his father, Richard Hall Sr., was "still numb" after an all-night drive from Hollywood, Fla. He had never considered his son's job risky.

Worker who fell 20 feet dies

A man who fell through the skylight of an apartment building on Friday has died, according to Rochester police.

Tom Hill, 63, of Marion, Wayne County, was working on the roof at 1620 N. Clinton Ave., said Rochester police Lt. Frank Churnetski. Hill reportedly slipped and fell 20 feet through a skylight then into a stairwell about 9:30 a.m. Friday. Rochester police did not know when Hill died. The Medical Examiner's Office declined to release that information.

Mechanic dies after car reportedly rolls over him

OSHKOSH Wis. -- The owner of an auto-repair shop died after a vehicle he was working on apparently rolled over him, authorities said.

Gregory Koch, 41, owner of Greg's K-Care Auto Repair in rural Oshkosh, was pronounced dead Wednesday morning, said Sgt. Greg Cianciolo of the Winnebago County Sheriff's department.

Chuck Hable, the county's deputy coroner, said investigators believe Koch was working under the car when it started unexpectedly and rolled over him.

OSHA investigates city plant worker's death

Balttimore, MD --The Maryland Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the death Tuesday of an assistant plant manager of a South Baltimore contracting firm after he became trapped inside a conveyor machine, city police said.

Raymond Lawrence Walk, 39, of the 8000 block of Wynbrook Road in North Point was performing routine maintenance work about 2 p.m. on a conveyor machine at P. Flanigan & Sons, in the 2100 block of Annapolis Road in Westport, when he became trapped and suffered head injuries, police said.

A second employee, who had been unable to contact Walk on a portable radio, entered the area and found him trapped between the conveyor system and a metal frame, police said.

Decatur worker dies after being burned in boiler explosion

DECATUR Ill. -- A 42-year-old Tate & Lyle Inc. utilities manager died Wednesday after suffering severe burns all over his body when a boiler exploded at the company's plant, officials said.

Matthew Laverty of Decatur died at 8:16 a.m., Sangamon County Coroner Susan Boone told the (Decatur) Herald & Review. Laverty had worked for Tate & Lyle, which manufactures renewable food and industrial ingredients, since 1998.

Laverty, along with another Tate & Lyle employee and a contract worker, was burned Tuesday afternoon when a boiler exploded at the Decatur plant, company officials said in a statement. All three were taken to St. Mary's Hospital before being airlifted to the burn unit at Springfield's Memorial Medical Center.

Florence man, 22, killed in accident

FLORENCE, CO - A 22-year-old worker died in an industrial accident Tuesday afternoon at Murco Dry Wall Products manufacturing plant.

Police were called to the manufacturing plant at 3120 S. Union at 5:36 p.m. Tuesday on the report of an industrial accident. Officers found that Richard Matthews of Florence had fallen into a railroad car containing crushed marble powder.

Florence volunteer firefighters pulled Matthews from the rail car. He was pronounced dead by Fremont County Coroner Dr. Dorothy Twellman, who estimated the time of death to be 5:15 p.m.

Cause of death was suffocation, and preliminary investigation indicates it was an accidental death. Results of a toxicology test are still pending, but results are not expected to shed any light on the incident, said Detective Tim Bell of the Florence police. "It was just a horrific accident," Bell said.

Backhoe accident kills landfill worker

Colton, CA -- An employee at a Colton landfill died Monday after his head was crushed by a backhoe, authorities said.

The man was throwing some chains onto the backhoe just before 9 a.m. when they fell and hit the controls of the vehicle, said Tom Debellis, a spokesman for the Colton Fire Department.

"Basically, it pinched his head in between the bucket of the backhoe and the backhoe itself," Debellis said.

The man, whose identity is being withheld until relatives are notified, was rushed to Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

Ponchatoula man died in shipyard accident

AVONDALE La -- A veteran employee of Northrop Grumman Corp.'s New Orleans-area shipyard was killed when a mast fell from a crane lift, the company said.

Leroy Pinion, 57, of Ponchatoula, was pronounced dead at the scene of Monday's accident, Northrop Grumman said in a new release. Another employee, whose name was not disclosed, was treated for injuries at a hospital and released, Northrop Grumman said.

Earlier Monday, Celestino Martinez, 50, was found unconscious about 8 a.m. aboard a ship under construction, the company said. He was pronounced dead at a hospital. Martinez, a Honduras native, had been employed with the shipyard since February 2005, the company said.

No cause known yet for fatal factory fire

CARTHAGE, OH - Fire investigators continued Monday to try to figure out what caused the fatal blaze at a fat-processing factory Saturday.

Killed in the fire were Uriel Martinez and Elman Marin Velasquez, 39. Martinez's age was not available, nor was a local address for either of the men. The coroner's office said Guatemala was listed as home for both victims.

Officials say four people were working at the Origo plant Saturday when the fire started. Nearby residents reported hearing many explosions. A thick black plume of smoke could be seen miles away in Kentucky.

Industrial Accident Kills Man In Moon Township

MOON TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- A fatal industrial accident Wednesday in Moon Township claimed the life of a subcontractor working on a piece of heavy machinery, Channel 4 Action News reported.

The incident happened at the Petroleum Products Company when the machinery fell on the man, trapping him underneath. Todd Auman, 37, from Sunberry, Pa., died at the scene, authorities said.

Fall into sawmill kills Granby man instantly

Granby, CO - A 32-year-old Granby man was killed Thursday when he fell into an old-fashioned sawmill, Grand County authorities said

John Tuttle, an employee of Grand Lake Log Homes, was making adjustments to the 50-inch circular saw just before 10 a.m. when the accident occurred.

"Basically, they were fine-tuning a sawmill that they had moved to this location. [#x2026] The carriage kind of caught his leg and caused him to get pushed into the actual saw blade," said Grand County coroner Dave Schoenfeld.

Two other employees were at the new facility near the Granby airport, but neither saw what happened. Tuttle, who had worked for the company for three years, died instantly, Schoenfeld said.


Lexington, KY -- A 35-year-old Henderson construction worker was killed early Friday at Hopkins County Coal LLC's new Big Elk Creek Preparation Plant. Ed Fitzgerrel was pronounced dead at 8:49 a.m. at a Madisonville hospital, said Hopkins County Coroner John Walters. The cause of death was multiple blunt trauma caused when Fitzgerrel became trapped between a mechanical lift and the steel structure of the preparation plant, which is under construction. The body was taken to Benton-Glunt Funeral Home in Henderson. Mark York, spokesman for the Kentucky Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet, said it was not clear yesterday whether Fitzgerrel would be classifed as Kentucky's 12th coal mining fatality of 2006; he was engaged in construction, not mining, and did not work for a mining company.

Man killed in blast at truck stop

CHEYENNE Wyo. -- A truck stop employee died Saturday in a blast that happened while he was cutting off the top of a 55-gallon drum with a blow torch, according to Laramie County sheriff's officials.

The identity of the 44-year-old employee of the Sapp Bros. truck stop a few miles east of Cheyenne was withheld pending family notification.

The explosion occurred around noon. Sheriff's Sgt. J.P. Hartigan said the man apparently ignited vapors inside the drum. The drum's lid struck the man in the face and chest.

Truck stop employees used a fire extinguisher to put out a fire in the drum. Hartigan said the drum was labeled "isopropanol xylene," which is an octane-boosting fuel additive. "My understanding was they were turning it into a trash can, making trash cans out of the barrels," he said.

Company asserts commitment to safety. Three employees of Thomas Industrial Coatings have fallen to their deaths this year.

St. Louis, MO -- The bridge-painting company that has lost three employees to falls this year said Friday it has long required the use of safety gear and will reassert that rule in a mandatory companywide meeting.

In a prepared statement, Thomas Industrial Coatings of Pevely also offered condolences to the families of the three men, one of whom died Wednesday in a fall from a bridge in Kansas City.

On Wednesday, Andy Wilson, 49, formerly of north St. Louis County, fell to his death from the Lexington Avenue bridge in northeast Kansas City. Dan Denzer, 47, of Pettigrew, Ark., died in a fall from the same bridge on May 10.

On Feb. 17, Jimmy Belfield, 39, of Cadet, Mo., died after a fall from the westbound Jefferson Barracks Interstate 255 bridge into the Mississippi River.

Two other Thomas employees died in falls from Missouri River bridges in the mid-1990s. The company was formed in the early 1990s and is a major regional bridge-painting contractor and subcontractor.


Syracuse, NY -- A 62-year-old Lewis County farmer was found dead Sunday night under his tractor in an apparent farming accident, state police said.

The name of the man was not released Sunday, pending notification of relatives.

Troopers said an acquaintance of the farmer found him dead about 8 p.m. on the farmer's land on Cataract Road in Denmark, about 95 miles northeast of Syracuse. The man apparently was riding his tractor on the side of a hill and it tipped over, crushing him, troopers said.

LA County sheriff's deputy dies in freeway traffic accident

ANAHEIM CA --A Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy was killed on the 91 Freeway in Anaheim in a collision with a big rig caused by a stove in the roadway, authorities said.

David Stan Piquette, 34, of Corona was killed Friday while driving a department-issued 2004 Ford Crown Victoria that ended up wedged between the two trailers of a truck loaded with dry cement, said sheriff's Sgt. John Hocking.

"There was a stove on the freeway and it isn't clear whether the truck swerved or he swerved to avoid it," Hocking said. The California Highway Patrol was investigating. Both vehicles crashed into a concrete wall along the westbound lanes of the freeway.

Man dies in accident at IPSCO Steel

Mobile, AL -- A man was killed in an industrial accident about 3 a.m. Friday at the IPSCO Steel mill off U.S. 43 in the Axis community of northeast Mobile County, authorities said.

The man's name and details of the accident were not available late Friday.

Town planner's death called 'a terrible loss'

MONCKS CORNER, SC - A good husband, a dedicated worker, a lover of nature and history, but more than anything, Michael Mitchum was a good father.

The Moncks Corner town planner was killed on the job Thursday afternoon when a man accused of driving without an S.C. license hit his parked car. Mitchum was getting out to inspect a job site when a van hit him.

Body of trucker killed in storms found

BINGHAMTON N.Y. -- Search teams found the body of a trucker who was killed when surging floodwaters carved a 150-wide chasm across Interstate 88 in Delaware County, Oneonta police said Saturday.

The body of Patrick O'Connell, 55, of Lisbon, Maine, was found at 9:50 a.m. Saturday near the Susquehanna River, in the Town of Sidney, 102 miles southwest of Albany.

The body was transported to Wilson Memorial Hospital in Binghamton. An autopsy determined the cause of death to be drowning.

O'Connell's body was missing since the cab of his truck was found about a mile from the accident scene where a creek flows into the Susquehanna River and divers located the trailer nearly two miles downriver.

Maintenance contractor dies after shooting

Macon, GA -- A maintenance contractor died after being shot during a robbery Friday afternoon at the Avalon Gardens Apartments off Chambers Road in Bibb County.

Gary Sturdivant, 58, of Forsyth died during surgery at The Medical Center of Central Georgia at 5:31 p.m., Bibb County coroner Leon Jones said.

Sturdivant, of Forsyth, was preparing to pay his workers in cash at about 4:20 p.m. when he was robbed and shot in the shoulder by two men who came out of the woods behind the apartments and ran away on the same path, Bibb County Sheriff's Capt. Mike Smallwood said.

Rural Hutchinson man dies when caught in grain bin

HUTCHINSON Minn. -- A rural Hutchinson man died after getting stuck in a grain bin. The McLeod County Sheriff's Department said Keven Dettman, 55, got stuck around 9:30 p.m. Thursday on a farm west of Hutchinson.

Services set for Fresno officer killed in crash

A Sunday viewing for Officer Edward Brett Chan will be from noon to 6 p.m. at Miller Memorial Chapel, 1120 West Goshen Ave. in Visalia. Recitation of the rosary will follow at 7 p.m.

The funeral service will be held Monday at 9 a.m. at St. Mary's Catholic Church, 608 N. Church St. in Visalia. A veteran Fresno police officer who died Saturday after a car traveled into the path of his motorcycle in Visalia will be put to rest next week.

A viewing for Officer Edward Brett Chan, 48, will be held Sunday at Miller Memorial Chapel in Visalia, followed by recitation of the rosary, according to a statement by law enforcement officials. Chan's funeral service will be held Monday at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Visalia.

Worker's auto death points out road perils

Westminster, CO - Christopher Naeve died Saturday facing the same danger that nearly killed his sister six years ago.

Naeve was struck by a driver, as he was trying to make a busy highway safer for others. It's the same danger that every highway worker faces in Colorado.

"It's almost like we are expendable," Naeve's sister, Cathie Naeve, said Monday.

Christopher Naeve was working Saturday afternoon for his sister's highway-safety company on U.S. 85 near Sedalia. He was realigning orange barrels in a lane closed for construction when a 2000 Chevy Geo swerved into Naeve, knocking him off the roadway.


NEWPORT NEWS, VA -- A second-floor concrete patio collapsed after workers used a jackhammer on it, police said.

A 21-year-old Gloucester man was killed Monday during a construction accident at an apartment building in the midtown section of Newport News, police said.

Emergency dispatchers received word of an industrial accident at 10:05 a.m., and a police officer reached the scene about two minutes later, Newport News police spokesman Lou Thurston said.

The officer found Dennis Wayne Dameron II, an employee with Moffit Demolition, pinned under debris from a second-floor concrete slab patio that had collapsed. Paramedics arriving at the apartment building on Adams Drive, just east of Jefferson Avenue, pronounced Dameron dead at the scene, Thurston said.

An investigation indicated that other workers were using a jackhammer on the patio when it collapsed and pinned Dameron, Thurston said.

Copenhagen man killed in farm accident

Copenhagen, NY -- A weekend tractor accident took the life of an elderly Copenhagen man, according to State Police.

The body of Eric Patten, 62, was found beneath his tractor behind his barn at High Falls farm along Cataract St. in Copenhagen, police said.

They believe the accident happened Saturday but the victim wasn't found until Sunday evening. The discovery was made about 8 p.m. by a man Patten had hired to mow his lawn.

State Police told NewsWatch50 the victim was on a Farmall tractor going up a hill when it overturned.

Fairfield County man killed in logging accident

Columbus, OH -- A Fairfield County man was killed yesterday in a logging accident, according to the Fairfield County sheriff.

Sheriff Dave Phalen said it appears that Keith Conway, 51, of Thornville, had been fatally struck by a limb from a tree that had been hit by falling tree that Conway had just cut down.

Conway had been cutting down trees late yesterday afternoon on a property on E. Grubb Road near Indian Run Rd. Another man also logging on the property repeatedly tried to call Conway on his cell phone but the phone was not answered. The man then contacted 911.

Conway's body was later found by the other logger, and EMS personnel pronounced Conway dead at the scene.

Company ‘shocked and dazed’

JEANERETTE, LA — Employees of LCS Corrections Services were “shocked and dazed” as they returned to work Wednesday, the company’s president said.

“The whole office is a basket case right now,” said LCS President Patrick LeBlanc.

John Blackburn, of Jeanerette, and contract pilot Farrell Skelton, of Lafayette, were killed when the company’s twin-engine aircraft crashed into a mobile home Tuesday. The owner of the mobile home, Lucien Broussard, also was killed.

Semi driver killed in Marine Drive crash

Portland, OR -- Firefighters try to get into the severely damaged cab to extricate the driver.

A semi-truck carrying a load of crushed cars crashed on NE Marine Drive on Friday, trapping and killing the 49-year-old driver from Idaho, police said.

Firefighters had trouble cutting the driver out of the truck because the vehicle's cab was damaged so severely, said Sgt. Brian Schmautz, spokesman for the Portland Police Bureau.

Driver dies after tanker overturns

NEWPORT, SC - A sewage tanker overturned on S.C. 274 on Thursday afternoon, killing the 52-year-old driver and causing about 20 gallons of waste to spill.

Paramedics needed an hour to remove the driver, identified as Knowlton Wilbert Windham Jr. of Lexington County. Windham, who was not wearing a seat belt, was pronounced dead at the scene, said York County Deputy Coroner Ev Amick.

The road was closed for much of the afternoon as crews vacuumed the spill and loaded the sewage on another truck. Crews spread lime to control the odor and worked to contain diesel fuel that also leaked.

The truck may have struck a pot hole and lost control before traveling up an embankment and overturning around 1:50 p.m., officials said. Windham was traveling north when the wreck occurred near the Little Allison Creek bridge. No one else was hurt.

Crane falls, crushes man in St. Francisville

ST. FRANCISVILLE, LA — An 18-year-old Illinois man died Monday when he was crushed by the falling boom of a barge-mounted crane in the Mississippi River where a new bridge will be built, West Feliciana Parish Sheriff J. Austin Daniel said.

The sheriff identified the victim as Tristen Jett Hall, an employee of a consulting firm doing soil-boring work for the proposed John James Audubon Bridge between West Feliciana and Pointe Coupee parishes.

Teen Killed In Work Accident; Father May Be At Fault

A teen was killed in a Springfield Meijer parking lot Tuesday, and investigators said the boy's own father may have caused the accident.

The 16-year-old boy was killed while working to unload large metal containers from the back of a trailer when he got stuck between a container and the wheel of the trailer.

Autopsy finds carnival worker was electrocuted on Ferris wheel

HOUSTON Mo. -- A carnival worker likely was electrocuted Friday while setting up a Ferris wheel, Texas County officials said Monday.

County Coroner Tim Whitaker said his office conducted an autopsy on Bradley Reinke, 34, over the weekend and found no evidence of contributing health problems. Reinke fell and got tangled up in a wire while setting up the Ferris wheel for Houston's July 4 celebration.


New York, NY -- AN 18-YEAR-OLD parking attendant was killed yesterday when he crashed a motorcycle into a wall inside a Chelsea garage, cops said.

The Queens teen, whose name was not released, suffered a fatal head injury after losing control of the bike in the Icon Parking garage at 60 W. 23rd St. about 2:30 p.m., cops said. It was not clear if the motorcycle belonged to the victim or a garage client.

A woman who came to pick up her car found the body and dialed 911. The teen was pronounced dead at 2:40 p.m., cops said.

Merchant Found Slain in His Store

Washington DC -- A convenience store owner was found dead in his store in the District late last night, and police officers said they were investigating the death as a homicide.

Police said that after being called to the store in the 2000 block of First Street NW about 10 p.m., they found the man in the back of the store with blood nearby.

Family members who went to the scene in the Bloomingdale neighborhood of Northwest Washington identified the merchant as Maurice L. Darnaby.

They said they understood that he had been killed in the A&L Market during a robbery. However, officers said they did not know a motive or how he was killed.

Police Officer, Suspect Die in Ga. Shootout

STONE MOUNTAIN, Ga. -- A police officer was fatally wounded in a foot-chase-turned-shootout that also killed the man he was pursuing at a cluster of apartment buildings where many Hurricane Katrina victims were relocated.

DeKalb County police Detective Dennis Carmen Stepnowski, 33, died Thursday at a hospital.

The name of the other man killed was not immediately released. A teenage neighbor said the man had gotten out of jail hours earlier. Another neighbor said the suspect had moved to Atlanta from New Orleans after Katrina.

Stepnowski and another officer were on patrol when they saw a man who seemed suspicious and chased him, police spokesman Sgt. Charles Dedrick said.

At some point during the chase, "shots were fired," Dedrick said, without elaborating on who fired first.

Worker Crushed To Death Under Skid Loader

HAMPSTEAD, Md. -- State police said a landscaping worker was killed Thursday when he was run over by a skid loader. The accident occurred around 4:30 p.m. at Outside Unlimited in the 4100 block of Saint Paul Road in Hampstead. Investigators said Joseph Miranda, 19, of Lutherville, stepped onto the skid loader to ask to use it. But the worker operating the machine was looking back while reversing it. He felt someone tap his shoulder and ask for the machine but was not aware that Miranda had stepped on and off the machine.

Witness to Trench Collapse Recalls Moments of Fright

The brothers were getting ready to head home Wednesday afternoon after spending almost eight hours excavating a nine-foot-deep trench in front of a large Potomac house so its foundation could be waterproofed.

It had been one of the hottest days of the year, but Samuel and Rigoberto Guevera were no strangers to backbreaking work. And they were less than 48 hours away from traveling to Ocean City for a family gathering.

Without warning and with barely a sound, the four-foot-wide trench collapsed, ramming Samuel, 25, and Rigoberto, 18, against the front wall of the two-story red brick house. The younger brother was almost completely submerged in the thick, moist soil they had spent hours digging, said Sergio Campos.

Samuel's face and hands were visible.

Family remembers roofer for love of family, soccer and hard work

AURORA, IL — Jose Vazquez saw the ad posted in the local Laundromat: roofing work for $100 a day. He had some experience with carpentry and no job, and so he made what turned out to be a fatal phone call. "That was the main reason he decided to call," his daughter Patricia Vazquez said Thursday. "He needed a reliable job." Vazquez, 52, fell to his death from the two-story roof of a home in the 400 block of Woodlawn Avenue Wednesday afternoon. According to the coroner's office, he suffered massive head trauma when his head struck the driveway, and he died at the scene. Although the family who lives in the Woodlawn home denied they hired him, Vazquez's family said he was called twice that morning, and he left in work clothes, carrying a water jug.

City tree trimmer falls to death

Oakland, CA - An Oakland tree trimmer died the morning of July 14 after falling about 30 feet from a maintenance truck, a city official said. It was the first public works death on the job in at least 15 years. At about 9:30 a.m., Alfredo Roman, 39, and three other crew members were doing routine maintenance trimming trees on the sidewalk along 10th Street between Martin Luther King, Jr. Way and Castro Street when Roman fell from the basket of the truck's hydraulic lift, known as a cherry picker. Roman was taken to Highland Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, said Karen Boyd, spokesperson for City Administrator Deborah Edgerly.

Barber Shop Employee Shot To Death

DECATUR, GA -- DeKalb County police are investigating the shooting death of a man who was closing a barber shop. The shooting happened just after 11 p.m. Thursday. Police say the man was at the Hall of Fame barber shop on Snapfinger Woods Drive and had gone out to put something in the trash. A man confronted him and pointed a gun at him. Police spokesman Herschel Grangent says the man was shot and later pronounced dead at a hospital.

Neb. Farmer Dies In Farming Accident

WALLACE, Neb. -- A 35-year-old Madrid man died in a farming accident this week. Authorities say Mark Doolittle was haying northeast of Wallace with his son and a hired man on Monday. Doolittle's son and the hired hand left to fuel the tractors. When they returned, they found Doolittle's tractor and baler, but could not see Doolittle. Lincoln County Sheriff Chief Deputy Jerry Wilson said Doolittle's son saw clothing rolling around inside the baler. The hired hand sent the boy away and found Doolittle's body inside the baler.

Worker crushed in Coraopolis

Coraopolis, PA - A construction worker died in Coraopolis yesterday when a hydraulic press he was helping to move fell on him. Todd Aumen, 37, of Sunbury, Northumberland County, died instantly around 3:30 p.m. when the press crushed him, the Allegheny County medical examiner's office said. Mr. Aumen worked for the Raker Construction Co., based in Sunbury. He was working on Throne Street in Coraopolis when the machine fell on him. It was unclear how the accident happened. An autopsy was scheduled for today. Allegheny County homicide detectives were investigating the incident last night.

Elephant From Madison Kills Handler In Tennessee, Elephant Spent 30 Years In Madison

MADISON, Wis. -- An elephant that once called Madison's Henry Vilas Zoo home has been blamed for a deadly attack. The elephant named Winkie was moved to a Tennessee sanctuary six years ago after run-ins in Madison. Now sanctuary workers are trying to find out what sparked the latest attack that killed a handler. Reports from Tennessee said that Winkie, a 40-year-old, 4-ton Asian elephant attacked and killed a handler at an elephant sanctuary. Tennessee wildlife officials said the female handler was either kicked or stepped on by the elephant and killed immediately on Friday. Another male worker was hospitalized with injuries after trying to save his colleague, WISC-TV reported.

Construction worker killed on Staples Mill

Richmond, VA - A worker helping lay new asphalt in a Virginia Department of Transportation work zone was killed last night when a dump truck accidentally backed over him on Staples Mill Road, state police said.

Dwayne Lynne Oakley, 21, of Nelson, Va., died at the scene of the 11 p.m. accident, about 100 feet west of Hermitage Road. Oakley was an employee of Lee Hy Paving Corp., which was laying asphalt on Staples Mill Road. The dump truck driver, Billy F. Wright, 23, of Ashland, works for Jones & Jones Inc. of Rockville, police said. Sgt. Kevin Barrick, a police spokesman, said the truck driver was already in the workzone and stopped when he was directed to reposition his vehicle. "Another guy was actually directing the truck to back up, and [the victim] apparently wasn't paying attention and the truck just backed over him," Barrick said. Oakley was wearing a reflective vest but the trucker couldn't see behind him. "It was dark and the trucks were coming and going, emptying their load and then going to geet more," Barrick said.

Farmer Killed After Falling From Tractor

HICKORY RIDGE, Ky. -- A farming accident has resulted in the death of an Edmonton man. Metcalfe County Deputy Coroner Larry Wilson says 67-year-old Carl Brown was killed late Tuesday while mowing with a tractor equipped with a bush-hog. Wilson says Brown was mowing on a hillside off Kentucky 496 when he apparently lost control of the tractor and was thrown off, his legs becoming entangled in the bush-hog. The victim's body was found by family members.

Charges Resolved In Case Of Officer Killed In Pursuit

OKLAHOMA CITY -- A woman charged in connection with the death of an Oklahoma City police officer while chasing a stolen motorcycle is being given a suspended sentence after pleading guilty to harboring a fugitive.

Sierra Avants pleaded guilty to the felony charge that she helped Kyle Grider elude police after the crash that killed police Sgt. Jonathan Dragus.

Dragus was chasing Grider in northwest Oklahoma City last October when he crashed his patrol car.

2 murder warrants issued in Quik Mart case

Tucson, AZ - Tucson police have issued first-degree-murder warrants for two men and are looking for a teen- ager in the case of a Quik Mart clerk killed during a robbery on Saturday, officials said Monday. Meanwhile, a Quik Mart official said the clerk, Christopher Cottle, 50, may have violated company policy when he went after three people who stole beer from the East Side convenience store. Cottle was working at the Quik Mart at 3499 S. Wilmot Road when three males came in and went directly to the cooler area, said George Feulner, attorney for Quik Mart, which is headquartered in Tucson Surveillance footage shows each robber grabbing an 18-pack of beer and walking out of the store, and then Cottle following them outside, Feulner said... It was outside, where there are no surveillance cameras, that the shooting occurred early Saturday, just after midnight. More here.

Pile of Formica falls, kills Yonkers man

YONKERS, NY — A 63-year-old city man was killed when a pile of Formica sheets fell on him in a shed behind his home, police said. Julio Garcia of 102 Clinton Place was pronounced dead at St. Joseph's Medical Center in Yonkers, Capt. Joseph Barca, a police spokesman, said today. Garcia was working with another man in the shed about 4:30 p.m. Sunday when 13, 10-foot-by-5-foot pieces of Formica that were leaning against a wall fell on him, knocking him to the floor. Unable to move the pile, the unidentified man called for help on a cell phone, police said. Police arrived and Garcia was taken to the hospital, about two blocks away. He was pronounced dead at 4:57 p.m.

Worker Dies In Industrial Accident

New Cumberland, WV - A fire at a Hancock County industrial plant left one worker (Mark Mcabee) dead Tuesday. The broke out at the Jamegy Plant in New Cumberland just after 1 p.m. Police confirmed that one worker was killed in the blaze, but the victim's name has not been released. The fire started in the production section of the plant, but OSHA is still trying to determine exactly what started the blaze. Police said only about seven of the plant's 20 employees were working at the time of the accident. No one else was injured. The small plant, which processes scrap materials, has been the site of three fires since the 1990s. Plant officials have currently shut down operations and are working with investigators to try and determine exactly what went wrong.

Truck driver killed in accident identified

San Antonio, TX - Authorities have identified a man who was killed on Monday when an 18-wheeler he was driving crashed through a guardrail on an exit ramp to Loop 410 South. William Earl Barrett Jr., 41, of Round Rock was killed when the truck fell more than 30 feet to the access road below and burst into flames, causing the truck's cab to disintegrate, the report said. The rig, hauling a trailer filled with computer parts, skidded into the guardrail around 9:16 a.m. as it was going from I-35 to Loop 410, according to a police report.

Police told NBC 10 that the shooting was an attempted robbery.

Philadelphia, PA - Police said a taxicab driver was shot to death early Monday morning in West Philadelphia. The cabbie was pumping gas at a service station when someone walked up to him and shot him in the back of the head. He was pronounced dead at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Police told NBC 10 that the shooting was an attempted robbery.

Beams crush Hammond steelworker

HAMMOND, Ind. -- The Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration was investigating the death of a steelworker. David Pineda, 49, of Hammond, was fatally injured Wednesday when steel beams fell on him at the Macsteel Service Centers USA plant. He was pronounced dead at 6:40 p.m. Wednesday in the St. Margaret Mercy Healthcare Centers emergency room, the Lake County Coroner's office said. Pineda had worked at the plant for five years, relatives said.

He was hit by several steel beams but was conscious after the accident, company officials said. The plant shut down operations and began an investigation immediately, they said. An Indiana OSHA inspector arrived at the plant Thursday morning to investigate the accident, said Tim Grogg, assistant commissioner of the Indiana Department of Labor.

2 highway workers struck and killed

HATFIELD, Ind. - An 82-year-old man drove his pickup truck through a road construction zone in southern Indiana, killing two workers holding a stop sign, police said. David Terry, 49, of Tell City, was pronounced dead Thursday at the scene. Danita Hall, 35, of Paoli, died later at an Owensboro, Ky., hospital. The driver of the car, Donald Coffey, of Owensboro, was arrested on two counts of reckless homicide, police said. The crash Thursday afternoon along Indiana 66 about 20 miles east of Evansville. The two workers were standing several feet off the roadway, holding a stop sign to control traffic that had been reduced to one lane for ditch and road repair, Spencer County Coroner Bob Dooley said. "Both of them were standing there talking. He just came up and just hit them," Dooley said. Terry and Hall both suffered massive internal injuries, he said. The two workers were thrown several feet in the crash and it was unclear whether Coffey saw them. Coffey was being held without bond in the Spencer County Jail pending a court appearance. The road was closed for six hours while investigators reconstructed the wreck.

Surveillance photos released in video store killing

GREENSBORO, NC — An adult video store clerk was shot and killed early Monday during an apparent robbery, police said. Authorities caught the crime on surveillance footage. The clerk, identified as David Lynn Cox, 52, of Greensboro, was discovered by a co-worker at the I-40 & Randleman Video & News. Cox was the only person inside the store when the shooter walked up to the counter about 3:30 a.m., police Capt. Gary Hastings said. The co-worker who found Cox moments later near the counter had just returned from a break. The killing marks the 10th homicide investigation of 2006 for city police, two killings fewer than at this time a year ago. It is the second time since February that someone has been killed along the stretch of Randleman Road north of the interstate.

Oakland City Employee Falls To His Death

Oakland, CA-July 14 - BCN - A longtime Oakland public works employee fell to his death this morning from a city tree trimming truck. The Alameda County coroner's office identified him as Jose Alfredo Roman Aguilera, 38, of Oakland. Known to his coworkers as Alfredo Roman, he had worked in the tree services division of the Oakland Public Works Agency for nine years. City officials said Roman fell about 30 feet from the truck at about 9:30 a.m. He was among four crewmembers trimming trees along the 10th Street sidewalk between Martin Luther King, Jr. Way and Castro Street.

Yosemite Worker Found Dead In Possible Climbing Accident

Yosemite, CA-The body of a California Conservation Corps worker was found Friday half-way down one of Yosemite National Park's most popular climbing routes, park officials said Saturday. National Park Service authorities said search crews found the body of Mike Gresham, 24, of Eureka, Montana Friday on the Royal Arches, a series of 1,500-foot half circles formed on the north wall of the Yosemite Valley.

Telephone worker killed in traffic accident

Millsboro, DE-A telephone repair man was killed today when a car involved in a collision moments before slammed into him as he worked. The Verizon employee, Larry K. Pruett, 43, was repairing a service box near the intersection of northbound U.S. 113 and Old Landing Road in Millsboro about 11 a.m. when the accident occurred, police said. Millsboro police said Tyrone Drummond, 37, of Frankford, was passing on the shoulder when his vehicle struck the front of a car driven by Joyce M. Dukes, 51, of Laurel, who was merging onto northbound U.S. 113, police said.

Dillon utility worker dies on the job

Sheridan, MT - A linesman for NorthWestern Energy died on the job last week, but company officials are not providing any details about what happened. 33 year-old Curtis Williams, of Dillon, was killed while working Thursday near Sheridan in Madison County. Williams was employed as a journeyman lineman, whose duties included working with power lines. NorthWestern spokeswoman Claudia Rapkoch says she can't disclose any details, because Williams' death is still under investigation. Utility officials are also still awaiting the results of an autopsy. Rapkoch says no other employees were injured in the incident. The Madison County coroner could not be reached for comment; and a deputy coroner did not return a reporter's phone call.

Two found dead in PSL café

PORT ST. LUCIE, FL — A registered sex offender shot and killed a 17-year-old girl and then himself inside a café Saturday morning in what police believe was a murder-suicide. After an hourlong standoff, police found Scott David Uslan, 42, of the 500 block of Chapman Avenue, dead inside the Tropical Smoothie Café, 314 S.E. Port St. Lucie Blvd., along with Brittany Carleo, of the 2200 block of Montauk Street, who was a café employee. Witnesses told police Uslan entered the restaurant around 9:15 a.m. armed with a handgun. Two other employees were able to escape, leaving behind Carleo. The café employees and patrons of the surrounding shopping center then called 911 after hearing what they thought were gunshots. An officer responded from police headquarters across the street. The officer believed there might be injured people in the building and called in the SWAT team, said police spokesman Officer Rob Vega.

Father, town worker killed on duty

Wakefield, MA - The town of Wakefield is mourning this week, after a town worker and father of four was killed while working on Lowell Street. Mark A. Delory, 39, was killed last Friday night, June 24, after a car crashed into him, pushing him into another vehicle. He leaves behind a wife, four school-age children and a large circle of friends and family. “He was always laughing, having a good time, but he was a hard worker too,” said Bill Wallace, manager of the Wakefield Municipal Gas & Light Department, where Delory worked.

Hotel Charged After Teen Employee Dies In Wreck

GREENSBURG, PA -- A Westmoreland County hotel is charged with violating state child labor laws following the death of a teenager who had been clocked in for 16 hours.

The state Department of Labor and Industry charged Hospitality Group Services, which operates the Ramada of Historic Ligonier, on Wednesday.

Sean Nemcheck, 17, who was from Cook Township, was killed on his way home the morning of February 19th, when his truck crashed.

The state prohibits minors from working more than eight hours a day or from working beyond 1 am on Saturdays, among other things.

Worker fatally shot at eatery

Chicago, IL-A manager of a fast-food restaurant was shot to death Sunday during an apparent robbery on Chicago's South Side, police said. Antoinette Means, 19, of 8400 S. Colfax Ave., was shot about 5:15 p.m. inside the KFC restaurant at 83rd Street and South Chicago Avenue.

Man killed in crash that closes I-77

CANTON, OH – A Canton man was killed after losing control of a loaded gravel truck and crashing on I-77. The messy wreck tied up northbound traffic for several hours Wednesday. Another motorist, Zack Thompson, said he followed the gravel truck from Massillon, recording erratic driving on his cell phone before the truck smashed into a concrete barrier and overturned near Dueber Ave. SW around noon. “I felt kind of guilty, because he told me to help him, and I couldn’t help him” because he was so severely injured, Thompson said. The truck’s driver, Jeffery Lynn Lewis, 42, of 6th St. SW, was pronounced dead at the scene.