FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The State of Worker Safety in America

U.S. worker safety remains unsatisfactory. We turn to a new report from the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (NCOSH) titled “The Dirty Dozen.” It spotlights firms putting workers and communities in harm’s way through unsafe practices, released on Workers’ Memorial Week (April 23-30) to honor those who died and were hurt on the job.

“It’s heartbreaking to see workers lose their lives when we know these tragedies could have been prevented,” said Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, co-executive director of National COSH, said in a statement. “Time and again, employers are warned about unsafe conditions. When companies fail to correct safety hazards, it is workers who pay the ultimate price.”

The 12 companies named in the report are: Amazon (Seattle); Case Farms (Troutman, N.C.); Dine Brands Global Inc. (Glendale, Calif.); JK Excavating (Mason, Ohio); Lowe’s Home Improvement (Mooresville, N.C.); Lynnway Auto Auction (Billerica, Mass.); New York and Atlantic Railway (New York City); Patterson UTI Energy (Houston, Texas); Sarabandad Farms (Sumas, Wash.); Tesla Motors (Fremont, Calif.); Verla International (New Windsor, N.Y.) and Waste Management (Houston).

Patterson UTI Energy is a drilling company that had an explosion killing five workers near Quinton, Okla.: Roger Cunningham, 55; Josh Ray, 35; Cody Risk, 26; Matt Smith, 29; and Parker Waldridge, 60. According to NCOSH, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Agency issued Patterson UTI 110 OSHA violations during the past 10 years, a decade in which 13 company workers lost their lives.

Labor conditions in energy extraction can be awful. What about the service sector for working people? Consider Dine Brands Global, Inc. (IHOP and Applebee’s) in Glendale, Calif., where “demands for sex, groping, threats of violence against workers (and) more than 60 complaints about sexual and harassment and abuse,” revealed an ugly pattern, according to NCOSH.

While the national rate of union membership was 10.7 percent in 2017 and 2016, workers in food services and drinking places had a 1.4 percent unionization rate in 2017 compared with 1.6 percent rate in 2016, according to the federal Labor Dept. As a result of this low unionization rate, food and beverage workers are more vulnerable to mistreatment than union members. The biggest group of organized women are labor union members.

“NCOSH’s listing of Dine Equity matches our own experience of receiving complaints from the company’s workers on sexual harassment and assault,” according to Saru Jayaraman, head of Restaurant Opportunities Center United in N.Y.C., a workers’ advocacy group. “Unfortunately, Dine Equity is not unique; the restaurant industry has the highest rates of sexual harassment and assault of almost any industry, and corporate restaurant chains set the low standards on this issue for the industry. Our legal department is supporting current and former workers from Dine Equity and many other similar chains in pursuing their rights legally.”

South African Elon Musk, who owns Tesla Motors, is a poster boy for hi-tech auto production. He employs workers to make electric cars in part at a former General Motors and Toyota factory in Fremont, Calif. Tesla made the NCOSH list of unsafe companies. Recordable injuries rose 31 percent over the industry average, while serious injuries rose 83 percent higher.

To read “The Dirty Dozen” in its entirety go to www.coshnetwork.org/.

 

More articles by:

Seth Sandronsky is a Sacramento journalist and member of the freelancers unit of the Pacific Media Workers Guild. Emailsethsandronsky@gmail.com

August 15, 2018
Jason Hirthler
Russiagate and the Men with Glass Eyes
Paul Street
Omaorosa’s Book Tour vs. Forty More Murdered Yemeni Children
Charles Pierson
Is Bankruptcy in Your Future?
George Ochenski
The Absolute Futility of ‘Global Dominance’ in the 21st Century
Gary Olson
Are We Governed by Secondary Psychopaths
Fred Guerin
On News, Fake News and Donald Trump
Arshad Khan
A Rip Van Winkle President Sleeps as Proof of Man’s Hand in Climate Change Multiplies and Disasters Strike
P. Sainath
The Unsung Heroism of Hausabai
Georgina Downs
Landmark Glyphosate Cancer Ruling Sets a Precedent for All Those Affected by Crop Poisons
Rev. William Alberts
United We Kneel, Divided We Stand
Chris Gilbert
How to Reactivate Chavismo
Kim C. Domenico
A Coffeehouse Hallucination: The Anti-American Dream Dream
August 14, 2018
Daniel Falcone
On Taking on the Mobilized Capitalist Class in Elections: an Interview With Noam Chomsky
Karl Grossman
Turning Space Into a War Zone
Jonah Raskin
“Fuck Wine Grapes, Fuck Wines”: the Coming Napafication of the World
Manuel García, Jr.
Climate Change Bites Big Business
Alberto Zuppi - Cesar Chelala
Argentina at a Crossroads
Chris Wright
On “Bullshit Jobs”
Rosita A. Sweetman
Dear Jorge: On the Pope’s Visit to Ireland
Binoy Kampmark
Authoritarian Revocations: Australia, Terrorism and Citizenship
Sara Johnson
The Incredible Benefits of Sagebrush and Juniper in the West
Martin Billheimer
White & Red Aunts, Capital Gains and Anarchy
Walter Clemens
Enough Already! Donald J. Trump Resignation Speech
August 13, 2018
Michael Colby
Migrant Injustice: Ben & Jerry’s Farmworker Exploitation
John Davis
California: Waging War on Wildfire
Alex Strauss
Chasing Shadows: Socialism Won’t Go Away Because It is Capitalism’s Antithesis 
Kathy Kelly
U.S. is Complicit in Child Slaughter in Yemen
Fran Shor
The Distemper of White Spite
Chad Hanson
We Know How to Protect Homes From Wildfires. Logging Isn’t the Way to Do It
Faisal Khan
Nawaz Sharif: Has Pakistan’s Houdini Finally Met his End?
Binoy Kampmark
Trump Versus Journalism: the Travails of Fourth Estate
Wim Laven
Honestly Looking at Family Values
Fred Gardner
Exploiting Styron’s Ghost
Dean Baker
Fact-Checking the Fact-Checker on Medicare-for-All
Weekend Edition
August 10, 2018
Friday - Sunday
David Price
Militarizing Space: Starship Troopers, Same As It Ever Was
Andrew Levine
No Attack on Iran, Yet
Melvin Goodman
The CIA’s Double Standard Revisited
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: The Grifter’s Lament
Aidan O'Brien
In Italy, There are 12,000 American Soldiers and 500,000 African Refugees: Connect the Dots 
Robert Fantina
Pity the Democrats and Republicans
Ishmael Reed
Am I More Nordic Than Members of the Alt Right?
Kristine Mattis
Dying of Consumption While Guzzling Snake Oil: a Realist’s Perspective on the Environmental Crisis
James Munson
The Upside of Defeat
Brian Cloughley
Pentagon Spending Funds the Politicians
Pavel Kozhevnikov
Cold War in the Sauna: Notes From a Russian American
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail