Archive for August, 2009

Despite Decline, Still Too Many Worker Deaths

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

Preliminary figures for 2008 show a nearly 9 percent decline in the number of worker fatalities from the previous year, but Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis said even one death is one too many.

A total of 5,057 worker deaths occurred in 2008, according to data released Thursday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is the lowest total since such data collection began in 1992; in 2007, 5,657 worker deaths were recorded.

In a statement, Solis said the decline “represents change in the right direction.” But she stressed the Department of Labor would “not be satisfied until there are no workplace deaths due to failure to comply with safety rules.”

Key findings in the BLS report included workplace suicides increasing 28 percent, Hispanic worker deaths down 17 percent, and deaths from workplace falls dropping 20 percent after a record high in 2007.

NRC Proposes Stronger Oversight of Radioactive Material

Sunday, August 9th, 2009

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has proposed limiting the amount of radioactive material allowed in generally licensed devices.

The move would affect about 1,800 devices and offer stronger oversight of radioactive materials by requiring an estimated 1,400 general license holders to apply for specific licenses for the devices, according to an NRC press release. The agency claims increased regulation and monitoring of the specific licenses would increase safety, security and control. In turn, this would make it harder for someone to obtain a device or accumulate a “risk-significant” amount of material for subterfuge.

The proposed rule was published in the Aug. 3 Federal Register.

Stakeholders Trade Blame During Consensus Standards Development

Sunday, August 9th, 2009

The United Steelworkers have pulled out of talks with the oil industry on the development of two new ANSI standards.

In the aftermath of the deadly 2005 Texas City BP refinery explosion, the Chemical Safety Board recommended both USW and the American Petroleum Institute work with ANSI to develop standards on process safety performance indicators and fatigue.

Pittsburgh-based USW withdrew from the talks this week, citing a process “too severely weighted toward the oil companies.” Conversely, API blamed USW for “attempting to undermine” the development process by silencing other stakeholders.

In a statement, Washington-based API said work would continue on the standards, which are expected to be issued later this year.