Every week, we bring you the latest headlines from the world of safety and keep you updated on the issues that matter most.
Another coal miner has died on the job in West Virginia, renewing calls for new mine safety initiatives. Owen Mark Jones was the sixth coal miner to die on the job in West Virginia so far, this year. His death now doubles the number of miners who died in the state’s coal industry last year. Nationally, in 2017, 12 coal miners have died on the job compared to just 8 in 2016.
“Where is the outrage? Political leaders should be saying that this doesn’t have to happen,” says Davitt McAteer, a longtime mine safety advocate.
The President of the United Mine Workers union says the decision to move a former congressional aide into the post of acting chief of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration is part of the problem. Organizations can also work to prevent serious injuries and fatalities for their workers. DEKRA recently published a white paper on safety in the mining industry.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is changing the way it lists worker fatalities on its website, drawing criticism from safety watchdogs. OSHA erased information on its homepage recently that listed each worker death by incident date, the victim’s name, and cause. The information was moved to an internal page of the website and no longer includes listing of incidents that did not lead to OSHA citations.
An administration spokesperson says the changes are an effort to increase the accuracy of the reports. “The previous listings included fatal incidents that were outside federal OSHA jurisdiction, not work-related, or the employer was not cited for a violation related to the incident. We are continuing to review all of the data to ensure it is accurate and useful to our stakeholders,” Mandy Kraft says.
But critics say this policy shift is a danger to workplace safety efforts. “The whole point of putting that [information] up there was to impress on the American people that we had a serious problem with workplace deaths in the United States,” Jordan Barab, who served as deputy assistant secretary of OSHA during the Obama administration, says. “That it wasn’t just numbers. It was real people.”
Learn about some of the real people using data to change their safety culture by reading our blog, An Insider's Look at Our Assessment Process.
The nation’s primary workplace safety agency wants more responsibility for the safety training of commercial drivers.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) says roadway accidents are the leading cause of on-the-job deaths in the U.S., but the safety issue remains outside its jurisdiction. To fill the void, the government relies on employers operating fleets of passenger cars and small trucks to run voluntary programs emphasizing training, maintenance, and tracking driver performance. “There aren’t a whole lot of standards out there governing fleet safety,” says Terry Ketchum of the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE).
OSHA wants more focus on vehicle safety because of the expanding toll of on-the-job highway fatalities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, roadway deaths in the U.S. increased 15% from 2011 to 2015 while workplace fatalities for all other types of incidents increased just 3%.
In addition to motor vehicle safety, you can learn what other issues are shaping safety this year with our free eBook, 2017 Guide to Safety in Action: 6 Ideas Shaping Safety Now.