Posts Tagged ‘Jordan Barab’

Cavalcade of Risk and other news notes

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

Cavalcade of Risk #81 is posted at Jaan Sidorov’s Disease Management Care blog. Check it out, covered topics include health care, information technology, personal risk, market risk and more.
Confined spacethree sanitation workers died when they were overcome by hydrogen sulfide gas in an 18 foot hole at Regal Recycling Company in Queens. The deceased included a father and son. The three were draining waste from the hole when one fell in and was overcome. As is so often the case in confined space deaths and trench deaths, his would-be-rescuers also became victims. OSHA: Confined Space
Insurance industry – According to the ISO and the Property Casualty Insurers of America, the first quarter of 2009 was the worst on record for the property casualty industry. Of course, it should be noted that records only go back to 1986, but since then, this is the industry’s worst net loss – some $1.3 billion – and its worst net written premium growth. Net written premiums dropped $4 billion, or 3.6%, in the first three months of 2009 from $110.4 billion in the first three months of 2008.
Independent contractor vs employee – Roberto Ceniceros of Business Insurance tells us that 8 attorneys general — from Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Vermont — have expressed their concern to FedEx about potential misclassification of workers. We’ve blogged on this issue numerous times – here are a few past posts related to the new administration , shareholders , NH, CA, CT, federal courts, and MA.
OSHA – Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA and erstwhile blogger Jordan Barab recently outlined key challenges that OSHA is addressing and urged safety professionals to get involved when he spoke before a group from American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE). He emphasized that workers will have a voice and that ” …unions and safety professionals like you will have a seat at the table.” Some of the priorities include developing a Severe Violators Program, addressing critical problems with construction fatalities and injuries, and developing a National Emphasis Program (NEP) for the chemical industry.
Hazmat – Training programs and tools developed by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) to help communities develop sound, evidence-based assumptions in preparing for hazardous materials (HazMat) emergencies and disasters: HazMat Emergency Preparedness Training and Tools for Responders
Arc FlashSafety Daily Advisor tells us that more than 2,000 workers a year are treated for severe burn injuries from arc flash, a short circuit through the air. In a follow-up post, they discuss arc flash prevention and related safe work practices.
DisabilityWhat’s your PDQ? Find out now.

Barab signals OSHA changes, heightened enforcement

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

We recently announced Jordan Barab’s appointment as Acting OSHA administrator and, as expected, he is losing no time in making changes. Last week, he testified at a hearing held by the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections of the House Committee on Education and Labor, outlining some immediate OSHA changes. These include:

  • the addition of new inspectors under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
  • formation of Severe Violators Inspection Program (SVIP). This is a reformulation of the Enhanced Enforcement Program (EEP), which will step up inspections and enforcement of large companies with repeat OSHA violations
  • the intent to work more closely with the Department of Justice to prosecute serial safety violators
  • a new National Emphasis Program of specialized inspections focusing on flavoring chemicals (diacetyl)
  • a suspension of establishing goals for new Voluntary Protection Program sites and Alliances so that more resources can be put on enforcement

Lisa Mascaro also discusses the shift to a more aggressive OSHA in the Las Vegas Sun. She notes that various either have been introduced or are expected to be introduced that would strengthen penalties for employers with serious or repeat safety violations and add a new criminal felony category.

Great news for worker safety: Jordan Barab named to OSHA

Sunday, April 19th, 2009

In catching up on blog reading this weekend, we find we missed an important piece of good news last week: via Liz Borkowski at The Pump Handle, we learn that longtime safety advocate and erstwhile safety blogger Jordan Barab has been named Deputy Assistant Secretary for OSHA and Acting Assistant Secretary. We couldn’t be more pleased and extend our heartfelt congratulations to Jordan on his appointment. Anyone familiar with his excellent work at Confined Space knows that Jordan has been a passionate and tireless advocate for worker safety. Thousands turned to his excellent blog for safety updates and education – we certainly were and still are among that number – if you haven’t got his site bookmarked, run don’t walk. Although he hasn’t updated since being appointed an advisor to the House of Representatives a few years ago, it remains one of the web’s most valuable safety resources. Unfortunately, so many of the serious and egregious safety issues that he blogged about are still open issues that need addressing, so he has his work cut out for him. .
Many of his blog readers may not be aware that worker safety has been a lifetime commitment for Jordan. To quote Borkowski:

“Of course, Jordan also lots of work experience not directly related to his blogging: He spent 16 years running AFSCME’s health and safety program; served as a Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary for OSHA; was a recommendations specialist for the Chemical Safety Board; and then became a senior policy advisor to the House of Representatives’ Education and Labor Committee. (He mothballed Confined Space upon starting the Committee job.)”

We sincerely hope that “acting” will lead to a permanent appointment – we can’t think of anyone more deserving of the post!
Here are what some other bloggers are saying about the news:
Effect measure
OSHA Healthcare Advisor
AFL-CIO Now Blog
OSHA Underground
OSHA Aboveground
Safety news Alert
John Gelman

Safety blog coverage of the sugar refinery explosion: frustration with OSHA

Monday, February 11th, 2008

We sorely miss Jordan Barab‘s participation in the safety blogosphere – he was a tireless crusader for workplace safety. Whenever a work tragedy occurred, such as last week’s Imperial Sugar Refinery explosion that claimed the lives of 6 workers, we could always count on Jordan to offer details and expertise on the matter that couldn’t be found elsewhere. So we have been pleased to note the emergence of a few new blogs that have stepped up to the plate.
OSHA Underground provides both knowledge of OSHA and technical expertise about a variety of work safety issues. It’s quite obviously the blog of a frustrated insider, KANE, who is vocal about diminishing OSHA resources and lack of agency leadership at the top. On Friday, KANE blogged the refinery explosion, noting that the Chemical Board had previously identified explosive dust hazards as a safety issue that needed to be addressed by OSHA. KANE also posted a list of OSHA’s comprehensive refinery inspections since March 2007, and a letter from Congressman Miller to Elaine Chao calling OSHA to task for not having enacted a standard to prevent combustible dust explosions, as recommended by the Chemical Safety Board (CSB) in November 2006. Miller notes that the CSB report identified 281 combustible dust incidents between 1980 and 2005 that killed 119 workers and injured 718.
The Pump Handle, another blog that is addressing work safety issues, also weighs in on the Imperial Refinery explosion, noting that this is the second catastrophic industrial explosion involving multiple fatalities in two months. In his post, Francis Hamilton Rammazzocchi runs through the frustrating history of the Chemical Board’s recommendations to OSHA that might have prevented such tragedies: The [Chemical] Board found that “Reactive incidents are a significant chemical safety problem,” but that OSHA’s Process Safety Management standard “has significant gaps in coverage of reactive hazards.” The Board therefore unanimously recommended that OSHA “Amend the Process Safety Management (PSM) Standard, 29 CFR 1910.119, to achieve more comprehensive control of reactive hazards that could have catastrophic consequences.”
And the response since this prescient recommendation?

More than five years after the CSB’s recommendation was issued, OSHA has refused to act. In typical Bush Administration fashion, instead of revising the PSM regulation, OSHA established an “Alliance” of chemical industry associations and published a reactive chemical webpage. The Alliance involved setting up booths at chemical industry conferences, occasional presentations about Alliance activities, and two actual training workshops that trained a total of 36 students. In 2004, the CSB evaluated OSHA’s response and judged it “unacceptable,” and the Alliance was terminated in March 2007. Rammazzocchi also faults the media for its pallid coverage and their lack of any call for accountability. He notes that despite being “hip deep in an election year,” candidates haven’t been questioned in any public forums about their stance on the regulatory agencies such as OSHA and EPA and whether they will call for the agencies do the jobs that they were intended to do.
We’ve taken OSHA to task more than once for its recent hands-off attitude to safety regulations and enforcement. While no one likes bureaucracy, self regulation by industry insiders, or what some refer to as “the foxes guarding the hen-house” approach, clearly isn’t sufficient to ensure worker – and public – safety.