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Archive for October, 2015
Apparently, it’s human nature to love being scared. It’s certainly proven true with blog posts — some of the most popular and highly visited entries from the archives are the ones that set your teeth on edge. Truth is usually scarier than fiction. We’ve dusted them off and present them to you.
In the spirit of Halloween, here are some of our scariest and most popular posts from the “it could have been worse” genre:
- You think your job is tough? – This video of a worker climbing a 1,768 feet cell tower is by far and away our most popular post – probably because it’s terrifying. For a safer take on working at heights, see Fall protection at 1776 feet: One World Trade Center
- Terrifying scenario on the high seas: Don’t watch this one if you have an upcoming cruise planned.
- Near-miss trench collapse in dramatic video
- High Voltage Cable Inspection – height + high voltage: Nightmares.
- If you think safety is for the birds, this wild turkey post might be right up your alley. Hilarious – but a little bit scary, too.
- Controversial Canadian workplace safety ads unveiled – from the “scared straight” genre of safety.
The truly terrifying posts
The above posts run the gamut but they have one thing in common: they mainly had happy endings. The really terrifying posts – the ones that should keep us all awake at nights – are ones that end badly. Here are some frequently visited posts in the “it shouldn’t have happened but it did” category. Sadly, this list is hardly exhaustive in the horror genre. Too many workers leave for work in the morning and don’t come home again at night:
- Inferno: Combustible dust explosion at Imperial Sugar – video report
- The high price for fast phones: Cell tower deaths.
- After 2 teen deaths, OSHA puts grain handling facilities on notice – Related: Grain Bin Safety and Walking Down the Grain
- Buried Alive and “An unprotected trench is an open grave”
- To hell and beyond: Dave Holland’s terrible story
- The Miners: The sad, quiet death of Bud Morris – father, husband, motorcycle aficionado Related: Oh God, for one more breath and Massey Mining Disaster
- “He was the greatest roofer I knew and look what happened”
- “A worker’s first day at work shouldn’t be his last day on earth”
- Death in the lab: why aren’t university labs safer?
- Survivor stories: the human aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon tragedy
Wondering what’s going on in the arena of health care policy? Joe Paduda’s got you covered – get your biweekly fix at Health Wonk Review’s overflowing cornucopia!
What’s in this cornucopia? ACA, FDA, ACO, GOP, CEO and much more – get the scoop!
A day that many in West Virginia have waited for has come to pass: Don Blankenship, former CEO of Massey Mining, is on trial. Proceedings began on October 1 in Charleston Federal Court and are in the jury selection phase.
Get your popcorn ready for what promises to be a very interesting and potentially precedent setting case. Holding a CEO criminally responsible for charges related to work safety violations is extremely rare. Observers are interested particularly in light of the Justice Department’s new emphasis and directive on prioritizing accountability and prosecution of individuals rather than just corporations. And no one is watching the proceedings with more interest than the families of the 29 miners who lost their lives.
The Charleston Gazette is following the trial closely with Don Blankenship on Trial, a special reporting section that includes day-by-day trial coverage updates and stories, timelines, a list of legal documents, historical articles, videos, maps and more. It also includes photos and profiles of the deceased.
Coverage also includes links to podcasts by West Virginia Public Broadcasting. WVPB has also been reporting on the case, offering an extensive background and podcasts of the trial events. You can find the latest podcast on the link above, or find a roster of the daily podcasts here or at the WVPB site’s dedicated Blankenship Trial page, where other reportage is also available.
The 16 minute Episode One is well worth a listen. WVPB’s Ashton Marra interviews
Howard Birkus, investigative reporter for NPR on coal mining and work safety, and Mike Hissam, Partner of Bailey & Glasser law firm. They set the stage for the trial and talk about its precedent-setting nature. Birkus says that it is “”extraordinarily rare to hold a CEO responsible for criminal or civil violations at their companies” noting that prosecutors need a paper trail, electronic trail or inside people who will testify. Hissom talk about how this case is on the leading edge of the Obama Justice Department’s new guidelines on criminally prosecuting individuals rather than just fining a corporation. They discuss how CEOs are often insulated from decision-making, but that Blankenship is unique and legendary in his micro-managing practices.
For background on the Justice Department’s new focus on criminal prosecutions, see the New York Times: Justice Department Sets Sights on Wall Street Executives. Matt Apuzzo and Ben Protess report on new rules, issued in a memo to federal prosecutors nationwide:
“Though limited in reach, the memo could erase some barriers to prosecuting corporate employees and inject new life into these high-profile investigations. The Justice Department often targets companies themselves and turns its eyes toward individuals only after negotiating a corporate settlement. In many cases, that means the offending employees go unpunished.
The memo, a copy of which was provided to The New York Times, tells civil and criminal investigators to focus on individual employees from the beginning. In settlement negotiations, companies will not be able to obtain credit for cooperating with the government unless they identify employees and turn over evidence against them, “regardless of their position, status or seniority.” Credit for cooperation can save companies billions of dollars in fines and mean the difference between a civil settlement and a criminal charge.”
For background on the case, How we got here offers a history of the case.
The reporting traces Blankenship’s rise to power in the coal mining industry and his influence in the state’s politics on through to the April 2010 Upper Big Branch Mine explosion that claimed the lives of 29 miners. Several investigations revealed ” … a pattern of violations by Massey of key safety standards, including proper mine ventilation, control of the buildup of explosive dust, and maintenance of equipment to prevent sparks that could set off a blast.” To date, four criminal convictions have occurred. Then in November of last year:
“… a federal grand jury meeting in Charleston indicted Blankenship, charging him with four criminal counts. A superseding indictment was later filed that combined two of the counts. Blankenship faces charges that he conspired to violate federal mine safety standards and to hide those violations from government inspectors and that he lied to federal securities regulators about Massey’s safety practices to try to stop the company’s stock prices from plummeting after the disaster.”
See our prior stories on Don Blankenship here
Follow Ken Ward on Twitter
Follow other reporting and commentary on twitter at #Blankenship