Sunday, May 20, 2007

Garrett Brown,Taking a closer look

Garrett Brown points out a wise old saying here , "if it sounds too good to be true it usually is".

The Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao raves workplace injuries and illnesses are at an all time low in 2005, OSHA claims a 19 percent reduction in injury and illness rates since 2001, and December 2006 The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that deaths tabulated by MSHA excluded “natural causes,” even if heart attacks and hospitalizations were the direct result of accidents.

The facts are Employers, OSHA, MSHA and Government omit many accounts. OSHA and MSHA have both refused to investigate a death at the Metiki Coal mine in Garrett County, WV. In November 2005 Chad Cook, 25, was killed driving a coal truck and although he was on the job it wasn't a death in the mine hence no MSHA investigation and it was a road incident on private property (the mines property) hence no OSHA investigation. No workers comp because that's not for a loss but a loss of wages and of course he had no spouse or children and no way to sue the employer. His parents Gay and Blaine Cook living Hyndman, PA have waited over a year for answers and will never really get them because the evidence was never taken. Now the media is involved and the account is finally being looked at here, I suppose their philosophy is better late than never or maybe it is better fix it with elections coming.

Then there was this oops miss count here. Garrett states , "There are powerful incentives for both government agencies and employers to downplay workplace injuries and illnesses. Declining injury rates can be highlighted as evidence of “success” of government efforts; at the same time, they can justify limited or no growth of government activity during a period of budget tightening."

Why have we allowed the Cook families of America to be hushed and why hasn't the Chads been giving a voice? It seems to me that one man down is one man down and any death while on the clock should be counted and investigated, but then again I didn't get the college education they did and maybe they know something I don't.


Anonymous said...

Hi Tammy/Garrett,

You are correct in your statements regarding the undercount of injuries and illnesses - it is a travesty and should be resolved.

However, the example that you mentioned, would be included in the counts quoted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. BLS fatality counts are based on the CFOI program (Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries). CFOI does not care whether or not there is regulatory jurisdiction or compensation in the case (although the lack of both in this particular instance does seem to be a travesty for other reasons). CFOI is a census, and covers all work-related fatalities that occur in the US, as long as there is some established working relationship at the time of death. While CFOI does not include deaths from "natural causes" (heart attacks and other non-work-related illnesses) and also generally will not count occupational illnesses (because the length of time it takes to verify a work-related illness is usually too long for the census purpose), CFOI will cover workers who are self-employed, small family farms, self-inflicted injuries, etc. etc. etc.

The main point is that CFOI (BLS), at least in my experience, does try very hard to include each and every work-related fatality they can find.

That's not to say that OSHA logs, MSHA counts, BLS non-fatal injury and illness stats, and a myriad of other data sources aren't faulty..........

Tammy said...

Well I have to say I love it when I am proved wrong and it's a good thing!

I should also make sure credit is given where credit is due.

Also before I continue I want to make clear that I don't believe that every individual within any one group is out to bamboozle us all.

(speaking in terms of OSHA)In a perfect world all the information would be in one area and easily defined and maybe somewhere it is but it isn't easily accessible to the general public and because of privacy issues much is not in full.

I have never really understood this fact alone. Most who have had a loss want help and answers so the privacy of families is more of a hindrance in this case.

Not only is it difficult but I know for a fact that they have had a so called quirk on their website that is not tallying up deaths in a particular automotive area. This has been known for some time and not taken care of and I suspect it is because of an agreement made with them and a certain trade association. If it is fixed in the near future I will assume I was correct.

Then again maybe I should quit looking at OSHA for my info and start looking at the BLS;o)

Thanks again for the clarification. As I have said many times I am new to this all and learn something new everyday. I just haven't learned how to keep my mouth shut yet!

Anonymous said...

OSHA generally does not count or investigate MVA fatalities. Employers aren't even required to report these fatalities, as they are other work-related fatalities and serious accidents. There are a number of reasons for this, but perhaps the most succinct is that OSHA feels that since these incidents are already investigated by the Department of Transportation, they're resources are better spent elsewhere. The problem with this argument is that it neglects the fact that MVAs are the leading cause of workplace fatalities in the United States and have been for some time.

I am happy to say, however, that some state plans - including Oregon (shout out to the homestate :) - have decided to include MVAs in their reporting requirements. Hopefully other state plans and federal OSHA will follow suit.

In the meantime, yes, go to BLS for any official statistics.

- Tasha

Anonymous said...

By the way, that "they're" was supposed to be a "their"... Seriously, I know how to spell... it's just early on a Monday morning... :)

Tammy said...

Well I try to add what I can on the blog.
I only add losses on the clock.
However I feel there are other cases who should be added such as accounts where they have worked so many hours that they couldn't function going home.
I haven't found a way to add them without adding all others just not getting enough sleep and some never really state where they were coming from.

Anonymous said...

Just a quick correction on the article. Garrett County is in (Western) Maryland not West Virginia.

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