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View Diary: Entirely Preventable Workplace Fatalities (78 comments)

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  •  I had a stroke at age 27 (8+ / 0-)

    while in perfect physical condition. I was working at a small factory, swabbing coating on the roof on a Saturday. The customer had gone over our estimate with a finetooth comb and seeing that we would be using MEK as a solvent,  told us he kept that in inventory and he would supply that. So I'm there early Saturday and see the janitor to fill a 5-gallon bucket with MEK. Janitor is out of MEK so he figures one solvent is as good as another and fills me an open-top bucket with diethyl ether. It was cool early in the a.m. and the ether was actually kind of thick and didn't smell. Sun hit the bucket, I hit the deck, only reason anyone saw me unconscious was the ether bucket went up in a pillar of flame and I was working in sight of the office windows.

    I was young and recovered quickly. Though some effects still show when I'm tired. My boss notified OSHA. Me and boss were blacklisted.  That plant already had hundreds of OSHA complaints. They knew the game and thumbed their nose at OSHA. Their main business was fabricating oldschool photo albums. Workers sat gluing the edges of sheets of plastic by using an eyedropper and a 50-50 mix of MEK and ether. Everyone who worked there went back to their home country sick. There were about 200 line employees there.  Employees were good for one to two years. The two year employees started tougher and went home more damaged.  It went on for at least a decade that I know of for sure after my accident.

    I still work construction.  Most all jobs are far beyond the sway of OSHA.  Workers are primarily migrants.  There are no believable numbers at all on workplace injuries or workplace fatalities. Why would they be reported? The sick are sent home.  There are disposal services for the migrant dead. I've been doing this 35 years, it has never been as bad as it is right now. Anyone who thinks workplace safety has improved is dreaming.

    •  It pisses me off (6+ / 0-)

      how companies play themselves up as big on safety when they are actually only big on safety as it pertains to their bottom line.  They hate accidents that can be pinned on them (and raise their insurance rates), but they will let you breath all the solvent fumes you can take in, because 15 years down the road, when you die of kidney, liver, lung, and/or brain damage caused by their working conditions, it will be impossible to pin it on them.  

    •  Oldhippie, your story is a good example (5+ / 0-)

      of how some employers deal with safety by cycling through employees, and hiring people whose immigration situation or other circumstances make them unlikely to fight the system. I did some work at a plant where the managers hired only local Portugese immigrants who couldn't read English (including the many warning labels on the chemicals, much less the MSDS sheets. The managers had the nerve to complain about workers taking so much sick time.

      Safety is better in some industries, but as I said, there's a long way to go.

      Those who do not understand history are condemned to repeat it... in summer school.

      by cassandracarolina on Sat Mar 02, 2013 at 05:12:11 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  We learn so slowly. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MeToo, cassandracarolina, WakeUpNeo

      Or maybe more properly, businesses refuse to learn when it isn't in their immediate interests.  What that plant was doing to those workers sounds little different than the fates suffered by the girls working in the radium dial-painting industry in the 1920s and 30s.  How do we still let this crap go on?

      We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both. - Justice Louis D. Brandeis

      by dsteffen on Sat Mar 02, 2013 at 11:40:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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