May 20, 2011 Liz Borkowski, MPH 0Comment

Several news outlets have reported on the findings of the Governor’s Independent Investigation Panel into the Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster, which killed 29 miners in West Virginia last year. (The report is here; my post on it is here.) Two of the most in-depth articles come from Ken Ward Jr. of the Charleston Gazette and Howard Berkes of NPR, both of whom have immersed themselves in the work of understanding and explaining how this disaster occurred. The Upper Big Branch archives at the Charleston Gazette and NPR are full of the details that have emerged (or been dragged out by these tenacious reporters) over the past year about the mine explosion as well as practices at Massey Energy and the Mine Safety and Health Administration.

In other news:

USA Today: Navy researchers studied dust particles from Iraq and Kuwait and found them to contain bacteria, fungi, and toxic metals. Troops’ exposure to this dust may help explain the dramatic increase in neurological, respiratory, and cardiovascular diseases in active servicemembers over the past decade.

ClimateWire: Waste pickers in India reduce energy use through their recycling activities, but they’re often stigmatized and reduced to working in unsanitary places. Now, CHF International’s “Trash to Treasure” program aims to legitimize this work and is building waste-sorting centers where workers have access to toilets, shade, and ventilation.

EHS Today: A US District Court has upheld an OSHA subpoena for inspection documents from the insurer of Haasbach LLC, which received 25 citations and a proposed fine of $555,000 from OSHA after two of its workers died and another was injured in one of the company’s grain elevators.

Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report: Between 2003 and 2008, 1,142 grounds maintenance workers were fatally injured while on the job.

NIOSH Science Blog: A new NIOSH guidance document on workplace handling of titanium dioxide powders may be the first document recommending separate occupational exposure limit for the same material at different particle sizes.

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