January 26, 2009 The Pump Handle 0Comment

Back in July, a 300-foot crane collapsed at a Houston refinery and killed four workers: Marion “Scooter” Hubert Odom III, 41; John D. Henry, 33; Daniel “DJ” Lee Johnson, 30; and Rocky Dale Strength, 30. Now, federal regulators have reported that the crane’s operator, who was among those killed, had never been in the machine’s cab before that day and was not qualified to operate it. Dane Schiller writes in the Houston Chronicle:

“Not only was the crane operator inadequately trained, but the project superintendent did not ensure the crane did not reach hazardous conditions,” OSHA area director Mark Briggs said. …

The employer did not ensure the crane operator had specific training on the crane’s operation, controls, load charges and a safety device, according to a citation.

OSHA is proposing that Louisiana-based Deep South Crane and Rigging pay $71,500 in fines that include six “serious” violations, as well as a repeat violation of failing to ensure a worker was adequately trained.

Briggs, the OSHA area director, told the Chronicle that “it is possible this tragedy could have been prevented” if OSHA’s regulations and industry standards had been followed. However, as Celeste pointed out when the collapse occurred, OSHA has also been dragging its feet on a crane and derrick standard that’s been in the works for years.

In other news:

New York Times: Household employers who don’t pay taxes and file appropriate paperwork for babysitters, housekeepers, and other such employees may deprive these workers of the chance to get Social Security payments when they retire and workers’ compensation if they’re injured on the job.

BBC: Servicemen stationed on Christmas Island and exposed to radiation during testing of Britain’s early nuclear bombs are seeking compensation for physical and mental damage.

Washington Post: The Army is considering a fitness camp for recruits who flunk induction physicals because they’re overweight (47,447 potential recruits have failed the test over the past four years).

New York Times: As President Obama highlights the importance of science, some scientists hope he’ll work to increase the number of women in top scientific jobs.

NIOSH: Emergency medical service responders now have better personal protective equipment available to them, thanks to work by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the National Fire Protection Association.

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