Archive for the ‘Misc.’ Category

Women of Steel

Friday, June 27th, 2014

women-of-steel
Are there many women in construction? They represent about 9% of the industry. Dorothée Moisan offers an excellent feature on New York’s Women of Steel, illustrated beautifully with photos by Jonathan Alpeyrie. Early pioneers talk about what it was like to break into the field. One little vignette from days gone by:

“I remember a young woman very well,” Janis says while smoking a cigarillo in her New York office. “This was really early in the game, in the late 1970s. The boss sent her into the field in order to do the kind of job that a superintendent would do. But the men yelled and threw rocks at her. The boss came and said, ‘Guys, what’s the matter with you? I want to train her.’ And their response was, ‘We don’t want her here because now we can’t pee on the steel!'”

Things have changed considerably since those days, as women in the article relate. You can also get a current feel for the profession in these associations:
The National Association of Women in Construction was founded in 1953 by 16 women working in the construction industry. Today its an an international association of women employed in construction, which promotes that industry and supports the advancement of women within it. In addition to its national charter, NAWIC has International Affiliation Agreements with the Canadian Association of Women in Construction, NAWIC-Australia, NAWIC-New Zealand, NAWIC-United Kingdom and South African Women in Construction. They offer women in construction stats in the chart below (or click here for the original Fact Sheet (PDF))
Another key organization is the Professional Women in Construction, with 6 chapters and over 1,000 members. PWC serves a constituency of close to 15,000, representing a broad spectrum of the industry. As its mission, PWC encourages and advances the goals and interests of woman and minority owned businesses.
nawic

What Are They Breeding In Snohomish, Washington?

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

Yesterday was a dank, dour, dreary, drizzling day, so, rather than diving deep into work, I spent a good part of the day devouring dumb and dumber insurance stories from the internet.
I came away asking, “What are they breeding in Snohomish, Washington?”
But before I tell you about Danny Calhon, a 19 year old from Snohomish who has achieved his 15 minutes of fame in a way you could never in your entire lifetime conceive, permit me a small digression and a bit of a rant.
I grew up in Massachusetts in the idyllic Leave It To Beaver and Dobie Gillis era. Maynard G. Krebs was the closest thing to a weird kid as one could encounter, and he was tame fiction. True, we had our share of “Whoops, Billy and Betsy have to get married” moments, but that was about as far as anyone my friends and I knew strayed from the beaten path, and that wasn’t often. Just often enough to make you sincerely grateful you weren’t Billy.
In those days, the closest one came to technology was the party line rotary dial phone sitting on the bench near the kitchen and the black and white, 15-inch television resting in the living room, gathered around which, every night at 6:30, the entire family would take in NBC’s Huntley-Brinkley Report. Fifteen minutes of all the news in the world. “Good night, David. Good night, Chet.” There was no internet. There weren’t even area codes. Calculators were “adding machines,” and they were hand-cranked. People hand-wrote letters. The postal service was a marvel of efficiency. Mail a letter then and within three days it would be delivered by hand through a mail slot in your front door by your own, personal, smiling, friendly (except when there were dogs around – no leash laws then) mailman. Sorry, no women. Feminism and women’s rights hadn’t hit the post office yet, or anywhere else for that matter, which is a real pity. Gloria Steinem had yet to go undercover for 11 days as a Playboy Bunny in Hugh Heffner’s New York Playboy Club. That wouldn’t happen until 1963.
That world blew up, and this may surprise you, in 1967 with the appearance of Texas Instrument’s hand-held calculator, which added, subtracted, multiplied and divided. That was it. In the early 1970s, I bought one for our office. It cost $479. After that, there was no stopping the communications bullet train (which didn’t exist back then, either). Pretty soon, Al Gore invented the internet and Steve Jobs and Bill Gates and, eventually, Mark Zuckerberg dragged everyone kicking and screaming into the galaxy we now inhabit. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, you name it. Everyone’s a reporter and everything gets reported. If a Bumble Bee farts in Pasadena, we know it in Boston within five minutes.
One of the fun games my friends and I used to play when we were 11 or 12 was to take a deep breath and hold it while blowing really hard on our thumb, which we had stuck in our mouth. We’d then pass out for a second or two, and a friend would catch us before we hit the ground. Seems a little childish now, but, well, we were children.
Which brings me back to Danny Calhon. Remember him? Danny – he’s going to put Snohomish on the map – Calhon made it into the local newspaper, and now all over the country, maybe the world, for – get ready now – causing a three-car crash after fainting due to intentionally holding his breath while driving through the 772 foot long Dennis L. Edwards Sunset Tunnel near Manning, Oregon.
You can be forgiven right about now for asking yourself if you read that last bit correctly. Trust me. You did.
There’s good news and bad news here. The bad news (my wife always wants the bad news first – seems counterintuitive, but there you are) is that after he fainted, Danny’s 1990 Toyota Camry, which was carrying him and his friend, 19-year-old Bradley Meyring, drifted across the center line and crashed, head-on, into a Ford Explorer being driven without a care in the world just before the roof caved in – literally – by 67-year-old Thomas Hatch. His wife Candace, 61, was in the front passenger seat. The good news is that there are no life-threatening injuries.
Young Mister Calhon faces a laundry list of charges. At this time, we don’t know why in the world he was holding his breath enough to faint while driving through the tunnel. Neither does Lt. Gregg Hastings, with the Oregon State Police, who drew the short straw to investigate. Maybe Danny doesn’t even know, himself.
Back in Leave It To Beaver country, we would never have known about this. Think of all we were missing.

Santa’s workshop: “OSHA problems galore” say whistleblowers

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

santa-warehouse
Not to be a holiday killjoy, but if Santa does not show up at your house we think we know why. We just saw a press release about a lawsuit alleging that Santa promotes hostile and unsafe work environment in shelf-elf program. The suit is filled with some pretty shocking allegations which, if true might ground the big guy. What’s more, it follows on the heels of some other recent charges by Buddy the Elf, a whistlbelower who revealed some horrible and unsafe labor practices in Santa’s workshop. Charges range from elves being paid in candy canes to exposed to terrible health hazards due to being housed with wild ruminants and exposed to their waste. The horror.
elf-safety-hazard
Part of the reason Santa has been able to get away with questionable practices is that his workshop is located outside of OSHA’s jurisdiction. He’s not beholden to US labor laws. At the oshatraining.com blog, Curtis Chambers does a great job explaining other safety problems that were identified at Santa’s North Pole workshop – no machine guarding, no personal protective equipment and no fall protection to name a few. Apparently Santa is getting fed up with all the criticism and bad publicity. Curtis explains that in recent years, to improve his image, Santa has entered a voluntary OSHA compliance program. It hasn’t all been easy, there have been some bumps in the road. You can read all about it in In Curtis’ post How OSHA nearly killed Christmas.
We are hoping Santa will be getting some help soon, though. Between Amazon’s delivery drones and Google’s somewhat terrifying BigDog and PetMan robots, things may get a little more mechanized in his workshop of the future. Then Santa can ditch the sleigh and ride in a driverless car.

Thank you, LexisNexis and Julie Ferguson

Thursday, December 12th, 2013

While we don’t usually make a fuss over these things, I want to thank the good people at LexisNexis for once again recognizing Workers Comp Insider as one of the top three national blogs of the year. We’re highly appreciative and grateful for the honor.
I also want to take a moment to thank the Mother of Insurance Blogs, Julie Ferguson.
Julie and I have worked together for more than 20 years, and I cannot tell you how much I value her considerable talent, dedication, professionalism and vision. But even I was a bit confused and surprised when, in early 2003, she came to me to suggest that we might want to create something called a “weblog” for workers compensation. At that time, I viewed these things as the fad du jour, something teenagers used to memorialize what they had for breakfast and what they thought might be neat for the rest of the day, at least until lunch.
But Julie told me that this would be a way to reach a much larger constituency and, if we stuck to it, we had a chance to shape the future of workers compensation communication. I was highly skeptical, but she was persuasive and would not let it go.
And she was right. Thus was conceived and born the first insurance blog in the world. The Insider debuted in September, 2003, and has been going strong ever since. And all the credit goes to Julie. Early on, she said that many blogs would be created, but few would survive because of all the hard work, persistence and dedication it takes to keep them going, to keep them fresh, informative, readable and compelling. She was right about that, too.
So, thank you, LexisNexis, and thank you our faithful readers, but most of all thank you, Julie Ferguson, my visionary friend.

Scary, but for the wrong reasons: Halloween mining disaster “attraction”

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

Three and a half years ago, 29 miners died in Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch Mine disaster. About 300 miles east from the locale of that tragedy, up until a day or two ago, you could walk through a “haunted” Halloween maze called The Miners’ Revenge at King’s Dominion theme park. The “attraction” was described this way:

“Alone in the darkness . . . the only sound is the pulsing of your heart as the searing heat slowly boils you alive . . . It was reported to be the worst coal mine accident in history. The families of missing miners begged for help but it was decided that a rescue was too dangerous. The miners were left entombed deep underground … “Lamps at their sides and pick-axes in their hands they are searching for the men who left them to die . . . waiting to exact their revenge.”

Peter Galuszka writes about this “amusement park” attraction in an opinion piece in the Washington Post: Miners’ deaths aren’t a theme-park thrill – or a copy can also be accessed at The Charleston Daily Mail.
Galuszka, who researched mine disasters for a book, said that the description and promotions are too close to reality.

“To promote the maze, Kings Dominion’s website features a garish picture of a badly mutilated half-skeleton.

That depiction, unfortunately, is true to reality. At Upper Big Branch, 10 of the 29 dead were blown apart by the explosion. The rest died of carbon monoxide intoxication.

So powerful was the blast that the remains of one miner were not found for days. He had been blown into the ceiling, and rescuers tended to look down.

So extensive was the physical trauma to five miners that pathologists couldn’t find enough lung tissue to probe for pneumoconiosis, or black lung disease, in their remains.”

The Kings Dominion “attraction” closed for the season on 10/27 — and none too soon. Families of deceased miners were understandably appalled and troubled. While King’s Dominion says the attraction wasn’t meant to depict a specific situation, families say that it hits too close to home.
In the WCHSTV story linked above, West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant shared her thoughts:

“I am appalled that Cedar Fair Entertainment Company is using the heartbreaking loss of our coal miners’ lives and the very real guilt of their colleagues and rescuers to make a buck,” Tennant said in a statement. “Our miners work hard and honorably, and for Cedar Fair Entertainment to exploit tragedies such as the 1968 explosion at Farmington or the Upper Big Branch disaster in 2010 for ‘amusement’ is too unbelievable for words.”

Hopefully, this tasteless chapter ends with the season and will not be revisited in future years. It does indeed hit close to home for far too many. In 2013 to date, 18 coal miners have lost their lives. See Faces of the Mine for a more fitting remembrance of those affected by the Upper Big Branch disaster.

Greatest Hits, 2012 Edition

Friday, December 28th, 2012

The following are the 20 posts with the most number of reader views in 2012. Some posts have racked up a goodly number of views since we began tracking. Although we began the blog in September 2003 (so we’re embarking on our tenth year!), we didn’t start tracking until March 2007. We’ve been visited 1,625,623 times since then.

You’re fired! Should you terminate an employee who is on workers compensation?
Views in 2012: 8,783
All time views: 35,612

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Who Should Pay?
Views in 2012: 6,790
All time views: 25,001

Independent Contractor or Employee?
Views in 2012: 6,012
All time views: 27,190

Can You Terminate an Employee on Workers Comp?
Views in 2012: 4,346
All time views: 11,976

Heart attacks on the job: are they covered by workers compensation?
Views in 2012: 2,325
All time views: 7601

The Cost of Volunteers
Views in 2012: 1,637
All time views: 5,130

Exception to the “going and coming” rule: operating premises
Views in 2012: 1,425
All time views: 8,038

You think your job is tough?
Views in 2012: 1,351
All time views: 5,186

Experience Modification Alert: NCCI Changing the Rules
Views in 2012: 1,236
All time views: 2,110

OSHA: Is Your Safety Incentive Program an Act of Discrimination?
Views in 2012: 1,119
All time views: 1,119
1,093 / 1,093

NCCI Experience Mod Changes: The (Ominous) Future is Now
Views in 2012: 1,093
All time views: 1,093

Cool work safety tool from WorkSafeBC – “What’s wrong with this photo?”
Views in 2012: 1,091
All time views: 2,254

The “here’s a guy doing stupid things” safety photo genre
Views in 2012: 1,090
All time views: 1,948

Dangerous jobs: window washing at extreme heights
Views in 2012: 1079
All time views: 2,195

Predictive Modeling in Workers’ Compensation
Views in 2012: 993
All time views: 993

The history of workers compensation
Views in 2012: 965
All time views: 12,077

Bankruptcy and Workers’ Compensation: Broken Promises, Broken Lives
Views in 2012: 942
All time views: 4,133

Cavalcade of Risk #113 and a scary work scenario
Views in 2012: 939
All time views: 6,297

“What are my rights?” Employer frustration with workers comp

Views in 2012: 896
All time views: 3,643

Underwriting for Dummies?
Views in 2012: 856
All time views: 4,463

Marijuana: coming to a state near you – and probably sooner than you think!

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

OK, this is something we never contemplated…straight from the Seattle Police Department’s Blotter, we bring you Marijwhatnow? A Guide to Legal Marijuana Use In Seattle.
The guide offers an FAQ for citizens about the recently enacted Washington law, which decriminalizes possession of small amounts of marijuana by adults over the age of 21. And Washington is not alone… in Colorado, 55% of the voters recently voted to legalize individual possession of small “recreational” amounts of marijuana. Contrary to what you might think, the vote wasn’t all cast by erstwhile hippies and young pot aficionados – some conservative proponents cited the potential billions in tax revenue and the benefits of unclogging the court systems and freeing police time by removing nettlesome petty criminal prosecutions
These voter approvals for recreational use mark a new twist – prior legislative approvals have dealt with medical use of the drug. Last week’s election saw other marijuana ballot initiatives in this vein – medical marijuana use was approved in Massachusetts, making it the 18th state (plus DC) to give the nod to medical marijuana use; however, Arkansas voters nixed their ballot initiative 51% to 48%.
The Devil is in the Details
Even with state initiatives, marijuana is still illegal at the federal level. Plus, as with most things, the devil is in the details and most states are scrambling to figure things out. But the train has left the station and is definitely gathering steam so this is an issue that employers need to take seriously. In the Seattle Police guide linked above, we note that the police are looking at the employment-related implications of the law, as well as other matters.

Q. Will police officers be able to smoke marijuana?
A. As of right now, no. This is still a very complicated issue.
Q. If I apply for a job at the Seattle Police Department, will past (or current) marijuana use be held against me?
A. The current standard for applicants is that they have not used marijuana in the previous three years. In light of I-502, the department will consult with the City Attorney and the State Attorney General to see if and how that standard may be revised.

“Complicated issue” sums things up nicely. We’ve compiled some commentary on the matter from various employment law authorities (and will no doubt bring you more in the future!)
Over at the LexisNexis Employment Law Community, attorney Donna Ballman reminds employees that Legal Marijuana Use Can Still Get You Fired. She cites case law on issues ranging from drug testing to the ADA. Most interestingly, she also discusses state laws that prohibit discrimination against medical marijuana users and prohibitions against termination/discrimination based upon an employee’s lawful activities off-duty.
Vance O. Knapp writes about Amendment 64: how do employers address the legalization of marijuana in Colorado? He discusses this new law and the state’s prior law allowing for medical marijuana use, and offers thoughts for employers. He cites this passage from Colorado’s law:

Nothing in this Section is intended to require an employer to permit or to accommodate the use, consumption, possession, transfer, display, transportation, sale or growing of marijuana in the workplace or to affect the ability of employers to have policies restricting the use of marijuana by employees.

His post appears at Lexology, which has a good library of employment-law related articles on medical marijuana
Greg Lamm of the Puget Sound Business Journal spoke with labor and employment attorney James Shore, who offered five tips for employers to prepare for the new law. You should read his comments in full detail, but here’s a quick summary of key points:
1. Have a written policy covering substances such as drugs and alcohol.
2. Make sure that policy covers any drugs that are illegal under state, federal and local law
3. Make sure that the policy prohibits any detectable amount of illegal drugs, as opposed to using an “under the influence” standard.
4. Employers with multiple locations in multiple states should have one consistent policy
5. Be prepared to see marijuana come up in collective-bargaining and termination negotiations with unionized employees.
We’ve also dusted off a few prior posts that we made on medical marijuana because they outline some issues employers will need to consider.
The current buzz on medical marijuana and the workplace
One Toke Over the Line
You can find more of our blog posts about pot by searching “marijuana.”

Group hug time: Thanks, LexisNexis; Thanks, readers!

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

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We were delighted to learn that we were named as an honoree in the 2012 LexisNexis Top 25 Blogs for Workers’ Compensation and Workplace Issues, That’s terrific and we appreciate the recognition! In their gracious acknowledgement, they note that Workers’ Comp Insider is in its 10th year, and my goodness, that’s true – how time flies!
The insurance blog scene was a barren landscape when we launched, a lonely place indeed! Plus, it was months and months before we were able to scare up much of a readership beyond our family members, closest colleagues and a handful of clients. The general reaction was “What the heck is a blog?” or “Who would want to read a diary about workers comp?” But eventually, someone found us – over the last 2,000 days, we’ve had more than 1.2 million visitors representing 209 countries from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe! Who’da thunk workers comp would have that much appeal?
One of the things that we find particularly gratifying is to see such a robust list of honorees on the LexisNexis list – we are happy to think we had a hand in inspiring that. Congratulations to the other 24 blogs that have also been named. As regular readers know, we’re big fans of Joe Paduda and Roberto Ceniceros, who we cite frequently. There are many other blogs on the list that are among our favorites – you will see them in our blogroll in the right-hand sidebar. We’re also delighted to find many new-to-us blogs listed that will be fun to explore. We encourage you to visit them all.
We should all feel good that workers comp has such a thriving blog scene — and we’d be remiss not to point out the important role that the LexisNexis awards have played in fostering and promoting this. If the LexisNexis Workers Compensation Law center isn’t in your “favorites” list, it needs to be! A tip of the hat to Robin E. Kobayashi and Ted Zwayer.
And last but not least, a tip of the hat, to you, our readers. You are our raison d’etre and our driving force. Whether you’re praising us or panning us, we appreciate it all. Thanks for stopping by, thanks for coming back – group hugs all around! !

Predictive Modeling in Workers’ Compensation

Monday, September 17th, 2012

Today, we host a guest blog written by our good friend and colleague, Gary Anderberg, PhD (Stanford). In addition to being one of the smartest people I have ever met (and I’ve met a lot of smart people), Gary is an exceptionally interesting and imaginative person. Currently Broadspire’s Practice Leader for Analytics and Outcomes in its Absence and Care Management Division, Gary is quite the expert regarding predictive modeling.
Gary’s been a college professor, a management consultant, VP of a California TPA and Founder of another California TPA. He helped design Zenith National’s Single-Point Program and Developed Prudential’s Workers Comp Managed Care Program, as well as its Integrated Disability Management Product.
Gary went to college to become an astrophysicist, but along the way found himself with a passion for ancient languages and cultures. As he puts it, “Some of my best friends have been dead for a few thousand years.” If that’s not enough, he also writes mystery novels, short stories and screenplays, and is a member of the Mystery Writers of America. In his spare time (you may be forgiven for asking, “He has spare time?”), Gary can sometimes be seen driving his space-age motorcycle through the back roads of Pennsylvania, wearing enough protective gear to make him look like an intergalactic warrior.
Tom Lynch
Predictive Modeling in Workers’ Compensation
Predictive modeling (PM) appears to be the buzzword du jour in workers’ compensation. There are real reasons why PM can be important in managing workers’ comp claims, so let’s stop and take a look at the substance behind the buzz.
PM is a process. Put simply, we look at tens of thousands of claims and try to discern patterns that link inputs – claimant demographics, the nature of an injury, the jurisdiction and many other factors – to claim outcomes. Modelers use many related techniques – Bayesian scoring, various types of regression analysis and neural networks are the most common – but the aim is always to link early information about a claim with the most probable outcome.
Obviously, if the probable outcome is negative – a high reserve, a prolonged period of TTD or the like – modeling can prompt various interventions designed to address and ameliorate that negative outcome. In effect, we are predicting the future in order to change the future. Spotting the potential $250,000 claim and turning it into an actual $60,000 claim is how PM pays for itself.
There are two approaches to PM: (a) mining existing claims data and (b) using claims data plus collateral information that models claim factors not well represented in a standard claim file. Ordinary data mining uses the information captured as data points during the claim process – claimant demographics, ICD-9 codes, NCCI codes, location, etc. But the standard claim file is data-poor. Much of the most revealing information about claimant attitude, co-morbid conditions, workplace conflicts and the like is captured – if it is captured at all – as narrative. Text data mining is a complex and less-than-precise science at this point, thus conventional data mining is limited in what it can provide for PM.
The best PM applications based on conventional data mining can provide a useful red light, yellow light, green light classification for new claims, identifying those claims with obvious problems and those that are obviously clean, leaving a group of ambiguous claims in the middle. This is a good start, but two important refinements that ratchet up the usefulness of PM materially are becoming available.
Sociologists, psychologists, industrial hygienists and others have done a tremendous amount of research in the last 30 years or so into the many factors that influence claims outcomes and delay normal RTW. Many of these factors are not captured in the standard claims process, but they can be captured through the use of an enhanced interview protocol and they can be mathematically modeled as part of a PM application.
Systems are already in place that ask value-neutral but predictive questions during the initial three point contact interviews. Combining the new information from the added questions with the models already developed through claim data mining produces a more granular PM output, which can identify particular claim issues for possible intervention.
For example, development is now underway to include a likelihood of litigation component in an existing PM system by adding a few interview questions and combining those responses with information already captured. Predicting the probability of litigation has a clear value to the adjuster and others in the claim process. Can potential litigation be avoided by changes in how the claim is managed? Do other factors in the claim make running the risk of litigation a worthwhile gamble? Better predictions make for more effective claim management.
Most of the PM systems in development or online are front-end loaded and look at the initial claim data set. But some trials are already underway to perform continuous modeling to look for dangers that may arise as the claim develops. The initial data set for a new claim can predict the most probable glide path for that claim, and in most cases the actual development of the claim will approximate that glide path. In some cases, however, the development can go awry. A secondary infection sets in or the claimant unexpectedly becomes severely depressed or lawyers up. This new, ongoing PM process monitors each claim against its predicted glide path and warns whenever a claim seems to be in danger of becoming an outlier – or a reinsurance event.
But wait a minute: isn’t an alert adjuster supposed to catch all of these factors from the initial interviews on? The use of PM is predicated on the idea that the best adjuster can have a bad day or miss a clue in an interview. A claim may have to be transferred to a new adjuster due to vacation, illness or retirement. Claim adjusters may well have invented the concept of multitasking and we all know that oversights can happen in a high-pressure environment.
A good PM application is the backstop, and it can be set up to alert not just the adjuster, but also the supervisor, the unit manager and the client’s claim analyst all at the same time. This brings new power and precision to the whole claim process, but only if the PM application becomes an integral part of how clams are handled and is not relegated to after-the-fact reporting. Several presentations at a recent Predictive Analytics World Conference in San Francisco made it clear that, in a wide range of business models, PM is still a peripheral function which has not yet been integrated into core processes.
To make the best use of PM in managing workers’ comp claims, two conditions have to be met: (a) adjusters have to understand that PM does not replace them or dumb down their jobs and (b) claim managers have to trust the insights that PM offers. When the PM system tells you that this little puppy dog claim has a very high potential to morph into a snarling Cujo based on how the claimant answered a handful of non-standard questions . . . believe it. Taking a wait and see approach defeats the whole purpose of PM, which is to get ahead of events, not trail along after them in futile desperation.
Remember, the purpose of PM is to avert unfortunate possible outcomes. This is one job at which you can never be too effective. Progress catches up with all of us – even in workers’ comp (one of the last major insurance lines to go paperless, for example). It is unlikely that, in another five years, any claim process without a robust PM component can remain competitive. If you can’t predict how claims will develop, you will be throwing money away.

Labor Day Roundup: Here’s to the Workers

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

As a belated tribute to Labor Day, we offer a smorgasbord of items about work, worker safety, and some of our favorite tributes to workers.
Celebrating the American Worker
America at Work – Alan Taylor compiles superlative photo essays for The Atlantic’s In Focus series. This collection of images from the recent Recession and its years of uncertainty — of men and women both at work and out of work in the United States.
Earl Dotter, Photojournalist – A remarkable portfolio of work documenting American workers. In the author’s words:
“For more than thirty five years the camera had enabled me to do meaningful work. Starting with Appalachian coal miners, and continuing through the years over a broad array of occupations in all regions of the country, I have observed and documented the working lives of Americans. Standing behind the lens, I have celebrated their accomplishments. I seek out those who are taking steps to improve their lives and their effectiveness at work, and use the camera to engage them by giving testimony to their achievements. The images that result tell of the satisfactions their work brings as well as its everyday challenges.”
Lost Labor – For more than 20 years, visual artist Raymon Elozua has been assembling a vast collection of company histories, pamphlets, and technical brochures that document America’s industrial history. This site features 155 photos from that collection – images of factories, machinery, and laborers hard at work. Many of the jobs depicted have faded into history. The artist grew up in the South Side of Chicago in the shadow of the giant steel mills and factories. His dad worked at U.S. Steel and his first job was at U.S. Steel, triggering a life long interest in everything about these industrial behemoths, from the architecture to the people who worked the jobs within. His interest in documenting this bygone era of American working life was sparked by the demise of the South Works industries.
Worker Safety
Hard Labor – The Center for Public Integrity says: “Each year, some 4,500 American workers die on the job and 50,000 perish from occupational diseases. Millions more are hurt and sickened at workplaces, and many others are cheated of wages and abused. In the coming months the Center for Public Integrity will publish, under the banner Hard Labor, stories exploring threats to workers — and the corporate and regulatory factors that endanger them.”
In particular, we point you to two recent stories:
Fishing deaths mount, but government slow to cast safety net for deadliest industry
Kentucky death case: Another black eye for state workplace safety enforcement
The Best Reporting on Worker Safety – ProPublica compiled “12 pieces of great reporting on workplace safety: from slaughterhouse diseases to lax regulatory oversight and deadly vats of chocolate.”
Workers in Popular Culture

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