At the height of the 1988 presidential campaign between George H.W. Bush and Michael Dukakis, then-Secretary of Labor Anne Dore McLaughlin sat down for a tense one-on-one television interview. It was an in-depth discussion with broadcaster John McLaughlin, the former Jesuit priest and host of the "McLaughlin Group" and "John McLaughlin's One on One." In what may be a unique oddity of American politics and broadcasting, the probing journalist and his high-level administration guest were also husband
and wife. McLaughlin was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to be the nation's second female secretary of labor, where she served from 1987 until 1989. In the interview, she discussed her work to engage the private sector to address issues like family leave and child care. The former secretary now goes by the Honorable Anne Korologos, after marrying Tom Korologos, the former U.S. ambassador to the Kingdom of Belgium.
• Too Many Stories to Tell: My Minimum Wage Roundtable in Baltimore: Returning to his campaign to amplify the voices of minimum wage workers, acting Secretary Harris reports from a roundtable with workers in Baltimore about what President Obama's proposal to raise the minimum wage would mean to them. The event was held at Baltimore's Our Daily Bread Employment Center with some two dozen workers. "The roundtables have convinced me that these low-wage workers are their own best advocates," Harris writes of the events (this is roundtable No. 22). "Beyond all of the powerful economic arguments in favor, raising the minimum wage is an issue of human dignity."
• Join the Conversation to Make Change Happen: Kathy Martinez, assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy, makes an appeal to the public to contribute to an open, online dialogue May 13-27 that is designed to collect ideas that will help youth with disabilities successfully transition from school to adulthood and the world of work.
• Celebrating Mothers, Supporting Families: Part Mother's Day greeting, part appreciation of a law that has provided tremendous benefits to working families, Latifa Lyles, acting director of the Women's Bureau, explains some of the ways that the Family and Medical Leave Act has transformed the workplace for mothers and children since it was passed 20 years ago.
Texas Tornado Recovery
As residents recover from the damage caused by the recent storm in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration urges recovery workers, employers and the public to exercise caution during cleanup efforts. OSHA will be providing on-site compliance assistance to workers and the public about the hazards they may encounter, as well as the steps they should take to stay safe. Hazards involved in cleanup work may include exposure to contaminated water or food; heat exhaustion; downed electrical wires; carbon monoxide poisoning and electrical shock from portable generators, and dangers while tree-trimming or working at heights.
Acting Secretary Harris visited on May 16 with about 100 business representatives at a meeting of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Labor Relations Committee. Harris emphasized the often-overlooked areas of agreement between the Labor Department and the Chamber, noting that the political culture doesn't always but should more often recognize and reward cooperative efforts. Harris called for moving beyond "zero-sum-game thinking" and for looking harder for "the places where our values intersect, where our interests overlap, the shaded area in the Venn diagram." Specifically, Harris cited skills development as an important issue where the Obama administration and the Chamber have common cause "a win-win" benefitting workers who need jobs and businesses seeking to grow in a competitive global economy. He spoke about the administration's principles for comprehensive immigration reform, which closely align with the Chamber's views, and applauded the Chamber for successfully negotiating a guest worker proposal with the AFL-CIO.
Patient Safety Congress
Nearly 1,500 patient safety experts and practitioners gathered in New Orleans for the annual National Patient Safety Foundation's Patient Safety Congress last week. In a May 9 keynote address, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels stressed that many employers do not realize that health care is a high-hazard industry, with injury rates that exceed those in construction and manufacturing. "We must take care of those who care for the ill and injured," said Michaels. "By advancing safety and health programs to protect our workers, the better they can serve patients and their families."
Customer service innovations were highlighted during a panel discussion at the Excellence in Government conference in Washington on May 13. Xavier Hughes, senior adviser to the acting secretary, participated in the discussion, saying, "It's vital to make our data readily available for our customers' benefit, within and outside of the federal government. Remember, we are all co-workers, each other's customers and keys to our success." Modernization efforts include working with technology developers to provide data on industries, equal pay, disability employment and other important topics. The department also is focusing on ensuring that the same inquiries made through different channels calls, texts, email, website, social media receive the same answers. All of the department's agencies strive toward four goals: professionalism, courtesy, timeliness and efficiency, Hughes said. "Slow and steady wins the race, and we're getting there."
40 Years of Safety, Health Data
A data user conference marking 40 years of occupational safety and health data was held the week of May 13 at the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Following enactment of the Occupational Safety and Health Act in 1970, BLS began gathering work-related injury, illness and fatality statistics and has continued to refine and expand upon the information available. BLS's Occupational Safety and Health Statistics Program hosted the conference, which attracted researchers, data analysts, and safety and health professionals from academia, private industry, labor, and government. BLS Commissioner Erica Groshen praised the milestone and welcomed participants, noting the recent release of new BLS data on fatal work injuries involving contractors and nonfatal injuries resulting in restricted work. Groshen took special note of panel discussions involving worker safety in the construction and transportation industries, "two areas with high concentrations of injuries and illnesses and in which safety and health information can provide key insights." Among the keynote speakers was Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels, who said that "OSH data is essential to helping OSHA's mission, and to reflecting on our country's progress in the culture of safety and health."
Work-Life Balance in Philly
The Women's Bureau Philadelphia Regional Office joined the National Conference of Puerto Rican Women, Philadelphia Latino Partnership, and Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez to host "Promoting Work-Life Balance and Health Awareness for Latinas" on May 11. Held in the heart of the Spanish community in North Philadelphia, the event brought together approximately 60 women wanting to learn about balancing a healthy lifestyle at work and at home. Women's Bureau Regional Administrator Lucia Bruce provided information on workplace flexibility.
An agreement of understanding to protect the rights of Honduran national migrant workers was signed by the Wage and Hour Division and the consulate general of Honduras in New Orleans on May 14. The division and the consulate will combine resources and coordinate efforts to inform employers about labor laws and to educate Honduran nationals working in Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi and Missouri about their rights under U.S. law.
A discussion about the ongoing importance of and need for affirmative action took center stage at the 38th annual conference of the American Association for Affirmative Action in San Antonio on May 9. Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs Director Patricia A. Shiu delivered the keynote address to more than 200 leaders from the public, private and higher education sectors. The AAAA works to promote understanding and advocacy of affirmative action in order to enhance access and equality in employment, economic and educational opportunities. "The American people have the right to expect that our government will contract with businesses whose workforces reflect the skills, the talents, the ingenuity and the diversity of us all," said Shiu.
Workers in four states Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania will benefit from an alliance between the Boston, New York and Philadelphia Occupational Safety and Health Administration regional offices and the Consulate General of the Dominican Republic. The alliance, signed May 1 at the consulate in New York City, will provide safety and health information and guidance to Dominican workers and others, along with information about workplace safety rights. "It will equip workers and employers with the knowledge and ability to recognize and correct workplace hazards, and inform them of the steps they can take to ensure a safe and healthful workplace," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York.
The Cleveland Job Corps Center hosted a Human Trafficking Forum on May 15 to educate 125 staff and students about the crime of human trafficking and how people are coerced into the sex trade. The forum included presentations by the Collaborative Initiative to End Human Trafficking and the Cleveland police. Cleveland Job Corps Center Director William Houston and Michael Taylor, business and community liaison, believe the forum provided critical information to teach students to be more aware of their surroundings and how to seek help. The forum was held days after the rescue of three Cleveland woman held in captivity for a decade.
Fall protection and the annual Heat Campaign by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration were among the top topics discussed at the Mid-Atlantic Construction Safety Conference on May 9. Nearly 100 people attended the Upper Marlboro, Md., conference to learn about safety issues in the construction industry. Compliance Assistance Specialist Brett Beall with OSHA's Baltimore/Washington Area Office provided information to representatives of construction companies and trade organizations.
Appointments to ACCSH
Two newly appointed members and six reappointed members to the Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health were announced on May 15 by the department. ACCSH, enacted under the Construction Safety Act, has for nearly 40 years advised the assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health on construction standards and policy matters. The committee meets twice a year, and its 15 members serve two-year terms representing the interests of the public, employers, employees and state government
The department reported the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial Unemployment Insurance claims was 360,000 for the week ending May 11, an increase of 32,000 from the previous week. The four-week moving average was 339,250, up 1,250 from the previous week's revised average.
The department recently announced the availability of $474.5 million for a third round of funding of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grant program. The application period is now open. On May 23, Jane Oates, assistant secretary of labor for employment and training, will moderate a virtual conference for potential applicants to highlight key areas, including employer engagement, capacity building, and innovative service delivery. This conference will feature current grantees and nationally recognized experts on changes in grant requirements. Interested applicants are encouraged to read previously successful applications on the department's grants database. Single institutions must apply by June 18; consortiums by July 3.
Maryland Workers Speak Up on Minimum Wage Increase
De'Warren Reaves has a bachelor's degree and hopes to one day run his own business. For now, however, he earns just above the minimum wage at a grocery store and faced a tough choice this winter whether to pay the electric bill or put food on the table for his family. He chose to buy food, but when the electricity was cut off he had to store the food in coolers and cook out on the grill every night. Reaves was one of nearly two dozen low-wage workers who had the chance to speak with acting Secretary of Labor Seth D. Harris in Baltimore on May 14 about President Obama's proposed increase in the federal minimum wage and how it would help them and their families. Gathered at Our Daily Bread Employment Center, workers told Harris about the difficult balancing acts they must manage. "I want extra money from my job to take my kids out to Chuck E. Cheese," said Deverick Howell. "But to be able to do that now, I have to work extra hours and not be there for my kids." Waitress Erin Breen said she often doesn't earn enough in tips to meet the current federal minimum wage rate of $7.25 per hour. She also spoke for many when she noted that her employer doesn't provide her with paid sick leave to care for herself or her young son. "Whenever you need a sick day, you go into work or you don't have a job anymore," she said. Harris remarked that he's heard similar stories around the country, and said increasing the minimum wage to $9 per hour would truly benefit low-wage, hard-working Americans. "This is trying-to-pay-the-rent, pay-the-bills, buy-food money," he said. "This increase will make a difference."
Twitter Town Hall Assists Veterans Looking for Careers
"Mr. Secretary, as an unemployed veteran, I sincerely thank you very much for this." That was one response to acting Secretary Harris near the end of a joint Labor Department and American Legion Twitter Town Hall on May 13. The chat covered a wide range of programs and services from across the federal government aimed at helping veterans find employment. Harris was joined by Joe Sharpe, national director of the American Legion's Economic Division, to discuss new investments in veterans hiring programs in the department's Veterans' Employment and Training Service, online resources that connect employers to veterans, tools to help veterans translate military skills to civilian occupations, and services available to veterans at the 2,700 American Jobs Centers across the country. With the help of several federal agencies and veterans service organizations, the #VetsJobsChat hashtag was circulated widely, with hundreds of tweets sent throughout the day fostering the discussion.
Applications for $1.5 million in 2013 Susan Harwood safety and health training grants are now being solicited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The grants will support the development of quality training materials and programs for workers and employers in recognizing workplace safety and health hazards and prevention measures, and understanding their rights and responsibilities. "These grants will fund programs that will supply hard-to-reach workers, those in high-hazard industries and small businesses with the knowledge and tools they need to support safe and healthful workplaces," said acting Secretary Harris. A webinar is available 24 hours a day for organizations interested in applying, including nonprofit, community and faith-based organizations; employer associations; labor unions; joint labor/management associations, and colleges and universities.
Grants to Focus on Homeless Female Veterans, Families
Up to $5 million in grants will be made available to help homeless female veterans and veterans with families receive job training, job placement and related services, the department announced on May 15. The 16 or more grants nationwide would help an estimated 1,900 veterans to prepare and succeed in civilian careers. "Much too often, those who have given so much to the nation face a difficult transition to civilian life and struggle to find a job that matches their talents," said acting Secretary Harris. "The grants announced today will help provide support and job assistance for veterans and their families, and open doors for career opportunities." Funds for the grants are being awarded on a competitive basis to state and local workforce boards, local public agencies and nonprofit organizations, tribal governments and faith-based and community organizations.
Funding to Improve State Unemployment Insurance Programs
The department is making available approximately $60 million in grant funding to state workforce agencies as part of its ongoing efforts to expedite the re-employment of unemployed workers and to improve the prevention, detection and recovery of improper payments. States have an opportunity to apply for this grant funding through the Re-employment Eligibility Assessment grant program. The REA program ensures UI claimants comply with eligibility requirements and provides them with personalized service and access to full array of employment programs available at American Job Centers. States interested in applying for grant funding must submit proposals by June 7.
Last week, President Obama issued an executive order to make "open and machine readable" the new default for government information. While it may sound wonky at first, this is a huge step forward to improve the way people interact with their government on a regular basis. It follows in the footsteps of the president's first official act in office, when he instructed each agency to take specific steps to improve transparency, participation, and collaboration in how they conduct business. Carl Fillichio, the department's senior official for open government, breaks down the latest announcement and tells us what it means for the department and you.
What does default open or machine readable data really mean?Government agencies collect and produce mountains of data in the course of their normal business, but what happens next hasn't always been well defined. How these data are kept, used, and made available to the public has ranged widely and that has inhibited innovation. What the president's executive order does is say, from here on, everything needs to be not only made available, but made available in a way that researchers, developers, news organizations and others can easily consume and reuse the data electronically.
What does that look like in "real life"?Nowadays, just about everyone is exposed to the benefits of open government data on a daily basis. The Global Positioning System, or GPS, is so commonplace now that it's not just built into cars, it's built into phones, shoes, and dog collars. All of that was made possible by opening what had been a closed government data system in the '80s and '90s. Private sector entrepreneurs were able to design innovative uses of this data, start companies, hire employees and contribute to the growth of the economy all because we flipped a switch from closed to open. More recently, cities have opened up their transit data, and when combined with GPS you see websites and mobile apps that give you real-time information about when the next bus or train is coming. Just in the last few years we've moved the ball forward at the Labor Department by publishing all of our enforcement data online and encouraging developers to use the data in innovative ways through challenges. We've also done incredible work to make the grant process more transparent by publishing applications and including language that ensures that products developed through federal grants remain accessible, free of charge.
So if this has been happening for a while, what's new about the executive order?The president has put in place a structure to make all this the new way of doing business. Data will have to be managed as a public asset throughout each stage, making it easier to collect, store, publish, and reuse and while safeguarding privacy. The result will be making troves of previously inaccessible or unmanageable data easily available to entrepreneurs, innovators, researchers and others who can use those data to generate new products and services, build businesses, and create jobs.
Grants to Combat Child Labor in Dominican Republic, Rwanda
Grant solicitations to combat child labor and forced labor in the Dominican Republic and Rwanda, in addition to grants to conduct global research on child labor, were announced May 13 by the Bureau of International Labor Affairs. A $10 million grant solicits applicants to address child labor, labor rights and working conditions in the agricultural sector of the Dominican Republic. The grant solicitation for Rwanda would award up to $5 million to address child labor and exploitative working conditions in Rwanda's tea sector. In addition, a $7 million grant will be awarded to advance ILAB's ongoing effort to increase international knowledge of child labor through data collected in 10 countries and updates of country-level statistics for approximately 100 countries.
Family and Medical Leave Act Helps Military Family
Army supply sergeant Ana Maria Zapata recently learned she would be deployed to Afghanistan. Family duties, including care of her young son, would be solely in the hands of her husband Eduardo. He notified his company, which provides building maintenance services in Washington state, that he would be taking time off without pay under the Family and Medical Leave Act. The company agreed to the leave. But when he returned two months later, the company informed Zapata he had lost his status as a janitorial foreman and would be given an irregular work schedule as an on-call employee at a lesser pay rate. Under FMLA's qualifying exigency leave, a spouse, parent, or child of a service member may take up to 12 work weeks of unpaid leave if an active duty
service member has been notified of an impending call up or order to active duty. The department's Seattle District Office of the Wage and Hour Division conducted an investigation under the guidance of District Director Donna Hart. The division informed the company it had violated the provisions of FMLA. Zapata was restored to his regular, full-time foreman's position and received more than $2,000 in back wages. Hart, who has a son serving in Afghanistan, said, "This is an example of how important FMLA is for military families and our soldiers who are sacrificing so much for us."
Honoring Labor's Patron Saint
The Episcopal Church celebrated Frances Perkins' Feast Day in parishes around the country on May 12-13, including at St. Monica and St. James Church in Washington, D.C. Located just six blocks from the department's headquarters, St. Monica and St. James was one of Secretary Perkins' spiritual homes during her tenure at the Labor Department. Some believe that while serving under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Perkins wrote the Social Security Act in the church's rectory. As part of the special mass held the evening of May 13, Donn Mitchell, a scholar of the spiritual foundations of the New Deal, lectured the congregation about how Perkins' work was based on the teachings of the Anglican tradition and its commitment to social justice. In addition, Carl Fillichio, senior advisor for public affairs and communications at the Department of Labor, reminded attendees in brief remarks that besides Social Security, Perkins' other great gift to the nation's working people was the Fair Labor Standards Act, which was signed into law 75 years ago next month. He said, "Back then, and still today, people of good will believe that an honest day's work deserves an honest day's pay. With the FLSA, Frances Perkins made that ideal the law of the land."
DOL in Action
Illinois Company Cited After Worker Dies While Cleaning Storage Tank
Phoenix Industrial Cleaning has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for 28 serious safety violations following the death of a worker. The employee fell from a ladder inside a storage tank, apparently after being overcome by methylene chloride vapors at a chemical manufacturing facility in Wheeling, Ill. Eighteen of the serious violations involve confined space entry requirements, including failing to train workers on acceptable entry conditions and provide testing and monitoring equipment for atmospheric hazards.
Widespread Violations Found in New Jersey Blueberry Industry
A multiyear enforcement initiative to promote compliance with labor laws in the New Jersey blueberry industry is being continued, the Wage and Hour Division announced. Investigations by the division have found consistent and widespread labor violations. The division's Southern New Jersey District Office conducted 32 investigations of agricultural industry employers during the 2012 blueberry harvest and found violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act and provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. The violations resulted in more than $80,000 in back wages due to more than 850 workers and approximately $25,000 in civil penalties.
Caddo Parish Commission in Shreveport, La., has paid $13,097 in back wages and has reinstated a wrongfully terminated employee after an investigation found violations of the Family and Medical Leave Act. The investigation by the Wage and Hour Division's New Orleans District Office found that the governing authority violated the FMLA when it initially approved FMLA leave for an employee's serious health condition but failed to allow the employee to return to work after a short absence. In addition to paying back wages, Caddo Parish Commission, a municipality that employs more than 365 people, has agreed to reinstate the employee to the original position with all benefits and to comply with the requirements of the FMLA in the future.
Connecticut Employer Ordered to Pay Delinquent Mine Safety Fines
A Jewett City, Conn., sand and gravel operation has been ordered to pay $34,000, plus interest, in delinquent civil penalties for violations of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act. American Industries Inc. will also post a cash performance bond of $30,000 with the department to ensure future compliance with the law, including payment of civil penalties. The department sued American Industries in federal court in June 2012 to seek payment of penalties owed since 2007. Under the Mine Act, the Mine Safety and Health Administration conducts inspections of mines, including sand and gravel operations, and issues citations and assesses penalties for safety and health violations. While mine operators have the right to contest civil money penalties, the law authorizes the department to sue those operators who ignore or refuse to pay civil penalties that have become final orders under the act.
Employment Services for Airline Workers in 3 States
A National Emergency Grant for $2,774,736 was announced on May15 to assist about 350 workers affected by the closure of Comair at the Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport in Erlanger, Ky. Comair was a former subsidiary of Delta Air Lines. The funding will provide employment services to affected workers who reside in Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio. "Workers who have the skills and training employers need right now have greater success finding jobs," said acting Secretary Harris. "The federal grant announced will help former Comair workers better position themselves for available jobs in growing industries."
New Jersey Union Official Sentenced in Embezzlement
The president of Local 148 of the Production Workers Union was sentenced May 13 to six months in prison for his part in conspiring to steal money from the union by taking unauthorized salary increases and bonuses. Stephen P. Arena of Nesconset, N.Y., previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to embezzle money and funds from the union. Local 148 of the Production Workers Union of the Allied, Novelty, and Production Workers of America, located in Jersey City, N.J., represents workers from various trades, including bus drivers, hotel workers and factory workers. In addition to the prison term, Arena was sentenced to two years of supervised release and fined $5,000. His plea agreement also requires him to repay the union approximately $110,000 in restitution. The department's Office of Inspector General and the Office of Labor-Management Standards' New York district office investigated the case, which was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey.
Penalties Proposed After Workers Injured in Flash Fire
Emcor Group Inc. in Arlington, Va., doing business as Emcor Government Services, and EEC Inc. in Landover, Md., were cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for serious safety violations. These violations include flammable vapor hazards that were found while the contractors replaced commercial ductwork insulation at a building in Washington, D.C. OSHA's inspection was prompted after three workers were hospitalized with serious burns from a flash fire that occurred inside the ductwork. Emcor was cited with six serious violations, which carry a $35,000 penalty, and EEC faces a $25,200 penalty for 16 serious violations.
Machinists Union in Pennsylvania to Hold New Election
Machinists Local Lodge 1976, a 1,400-member labor union located in Moon Township, Pa., has agreed to conduct a new election for several officer positions under the supervision of the Office of Labor-Management Standards. An investigation of the union's December 2012 election found that a candidate improperly used employer equipment and supplies to produce campaign literature that promoted a slate of candidates and was distributed to members. The Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act prohibits the use of any employer resources to promote the candidacy of any person in a union officer election subject to the Act. The election for president, vice president, recording secretary, grievance committee chair, two grievance committee positions and two trustees is to be held by October 31.
Masonry Contractor Faulted for Repeat Fall Hazards
Masonry contractor F. Pardo Corp., based in Ridgefield Park, N.J., was cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration during brickwork on a residential structure in Paramus, N.J. OSHA proposed $46,200 in penalties for violations, including employees exposed to falling objects while working below masonry activities without hard hat protection, and employees exposed to fall hazards of approximately 18 feet while on a fabricated frame scaffold without any means of fall protection. The company was cited for the same violations in 2010 and 2011.
Back Wages Set for 1,720 Temporary Workers in New Jersey
Vineland, N.J.-based Lucca Freezer & Cold Storage Inc. has agreed to pay $498,604 in back wages and liquidated damages to 1,720 employees. An investigation by the Wage and Hour Division found the company used Quickstuff LLC, a temporary employment agency, to obtain workers but failed to properly compensate the employees for all hours worked, in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Lucca Freezer & Cold Storage is a produce storage and packaging facility that provides services for produce growers and businesses nationwide.
Pennsylvania Excavators Exposed Workers to Trenching Hazards
Lumadue Excavating LLC of West Decatur, Pa., has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for 12 safety violations involving trenching hazards. OSHA initiated two inspections under a special emphasis program on trenching and excavation when inspectors found unprotected trenches at two different work sites. Penalties of $178,860 have been proposed. Violations include the company's failure to provide a protective system to prevent a trench cave-in and instruct workers in the recognition and avoidance of hazardous conditions. Because of the nature of the hazards and the violations cited, Lumadue has been placed in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
Flammable Liquids Standards Violations Found at Chicago Factory
A.W.T. World Trade Inc. has been cited for 28 safety and health violations, including multiple violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's flammable liquids and spray finishing standards. The complaint inspection was initiated at the Chicago printing machinery manufacturer last year. Penalties of $119,700 have been proposed. Some of the serious safety and health violations include not providing employees information and training on hazardous chemicals.
A miner fired from his job at a rare earth minerals operation when he spoke out about unsafe working conditions has been temporarily reinstated. The miner, an employee of Mt. Pass Mine and Mill in Mountain Pass, Calif., had refused to work on a sodium carbonate tank until the operator provided him with a safety data sheet about overexposures and guidance on what type of personal protective equipment to use when handling the chemical substance. He also refused to tie off on a vertical scaffolding pole for protection from falling rather than on a designated tie-off point, as required by the Mine Safety and Health Administration. Following complaints he made to management, the miner was terminated. The miner returned to full-time work May 6 as a foreman.
New Jersey Contractor Faces Fines for Scaffolding Hazards
Worldwide Company Inc., doing business as Three Brothers Co. LLC in Newark, N.J., has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Five repeat violations and one serious violation were found while the company was doing commercial construction renovation at a Maplewood, N.J., work site. The repeat violations included the company's failure to fully plank scaffolds, provide fall protection, and ensure adequate bracing on scaffold components. A scaffold used in close proximity to power lines resulted in the serious violation. The stucco contractor faces $53,240 in proposed penalties.