February 25, 2011 Liz Borkowski, MPH 1Comment

For its 40th anniversary, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has compiled a timeline of key milestones during its history. The big picture is a positive one:

Although accurate statistics were not kept at the time, it is estimated that in 1970 around 14,000 workers were killed on the job. That number fell to approximately 4,340 in 2009. At the same time, U.S. employment has almost doubled and now includes over 130 million workers at more than 7.2 million worksites. Since the passage of the OSH Act, the rate of reported serious workplace injuries and illnesses has declined from 11 per 100 workers in 1972 to 3.6 per 100 workers in 2009. OSHA safety and health standards, including those for trenching, machine guarding, asbestos, benzene, lead, and bloodborne pathogens have prevented countless work-related injuries, illnesses and deaths. This timeline highlights key milestones in occupational safety and health history since the creation of OSHA.

The timeline includes OSHA standards, from the 1972 asbestos standard to the 2010 cranes and derricks standard. It also includes disasters that highlighted the need for OSHA action, like the 1984 release of methyl isocyanate (MIC) at Union Carbide’s plant in Bhopal, India, which killed at least 3,800 people immediately and continues to affect local residents’ health. The OSHA timeline explains that this disaster led to increased inspections of chemical plants, particularly those making or using MIC.

In other news:

ProPublica: CBS correspondent Lara Logan has broken a code of silence by going public about being attacked and sexually assaulted by a mob in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. Sexual violence against women journalists is not unusual, but most don’t report it for fear of losing out on future assignments.

New York Times: Apple’s annual review of its global suppliers’ labor conditions stated that 137 workers at a Suzhou, China factory were seriously injured by the chemical n-hexane. Workers report that the contracting company, Wintek, pressured those who were injured to resign and to accept payments in exchange for promising not to hold the company liable.

TBD: Seventeen members of the military who say their fellow servicemembers raped or sexually assaulted them have filed a federal class-action lawsuit accuses the Department of Defense of failing to ensure a safe workplace.

CIDRAP: A survey of healthcare workers found that workplace requirements for vaccination can boost healthcare workers’ vaccine uptake, and offering the vaccine in the workplace can also improve rates of immunization.

NIOSH Science Blog: Law enforcement officers have an occupational injury fatality rate four times higher than the US average, and traffic-related incidents are the leading cause of officer deaths.

One thought on “Occupational Health News Roundup

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