There are about 200,000 abandoned mines and another 14,000 active operations around the U.S. Each one is a potential accident. And possibly a deadly accident at that.
The solution? “Stay Out – Stay Alive.” The slogan is the name of a new safety effort warning both workers and casual explorers about the dangers of wandering onto mining property.
Michigan worker safety is at potential risk, because inattentive workers as well as outdoor enthusiasts may be in danger. Underground abandoned mines are a particular source of risk. Often, rotted boards cover the shafts of those mines. Those boards may collapse under light weight. Tunnels are also a danger. They may cave in. They may contain dangerous gases, poisonous snakes and insects, or flooded areas. Workers in industries not related to mining may fall into mine shafts. They may suffer accidents on mining property.
Richard E. Stickler, assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health, says many mines, active or abandoned, “contain hidden hazards and, for those not trained to work in mines, the outcome can be deadly.” He urges bikers, rock climbers, swimmers, and hikers to “Stay Out – Stay Alive.”
Sadly, among the victims are children who trespass to play on mine property. Federal mine health and safety experts will be visiting children’s groups, such as scouting organizations or schools, to talk to them about the potential risks involved. That will be part of the larger effort to warn people of the dangers involved in trespassing onto mining property. The “Stay Out — Stay Alive” program is in its ninth year, and has involved private groups, businesses, individuals, and federal and state agencies in the effort.
The statistics support the need for the concern and the effort. More than 200 people died in mine-related mishaps since 1999. In 2006 alone, 30 people or more between the ages of 17 and 51 were killed in underground and surface mining operations. Many accidents involved children and outdoor enthusiasts.
The third round of competition for bids targeting the nation’s historic regions of high unemployment is now open.
Called the WIRED grants, they are available to regions in every state and territory in the U.S. Regular readers of this blog know how valuable the WIRED grants can be in jump-starting stalled regional economies.
An Michigan unemployment grant would be welcome relief for the state’s unemployed workers. An Indiana unemployment grant through WIRED awarded during the second round will particularly benefit the northern region of the state. That’s an area where jobless rates have been historically above the national average.
The WIRED Initiative is short for the Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development Initiative. Launched by the U.S. Labor Department in February of 2006, it began a competitive grant process by awarding funds to help 13 regions nationwide to boost their economies.
WIRED is designed for those regions that are traditionally untouched by improved national economic and employment trends. Currently, the unemployment rate nationwide is considered good, at around 4%. Economists describe anything less than 5% as a “job shortage.” The rate is even better for those jobs requiring high skill levels or a college education. In those cases, the rate is at a mere 1.9%.
U.S. Secretary of labor Elaine Chao announced the third round of competition for the WIRED bids. She said the WIRED Initiative “recognizes that local economies often do not neatly conform to geographic boundaries.” WIRED brings different organizations together to help prepare workforces by supplying them with “the skills needed to succeed in the 21st century worldwide economy,” she said. Those organizations may be economic development groups, community colleges, foundations, businesses and universities.
The third round of competition has begun with letters to all governors in the U.S. Each governor may submit two proposals. Each of those proposals may request a maximum amount of $5 million. The regions involved must show where they are receiving other funding – whether private, regional or state. Those funds would complement the Labor Department’s share.
Here’s good news for Michigan workers with disabilities.
Michigan workers with disabilities will be happy to know that a recent partnership formed between the US Department of Labor and a major human resource organization should result in more jobs. This partnership teams the US office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) with the Society of Human Resource Managers (SHRM). The result of this partnership will be that Michigan workers with disabilities will have access to additional resources and opportunities.
Since it was founded in 2001, ODEP has worked to ensure disabled workers have full access to jobs. This agency is separate from the US Department of Labor, which until 2001 oversaw policy for disabled workers at the federal level.
What is the US office of Disability Employment Policy?
Since 2001, this office has worked to make sure disabled workers have and will continue to have access to jobs. This agency is lead by Roy Grizzard, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy. US Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao created the separate agency because she wanted to make it more effective.
What is the Society of Human Resource Managers?
The Society of Human Resource Managers (SHRM) has been around since 1948. It is an international organization and has over 200,000 members. With 550 chapters in more than 100 countries, SHRM works to help professionals in the human resource field by supplying them with essential resources.
What will this alliance do?
The partnership should benefit disabled workers by conducting research, assisting both workers and state agencies with access to resources, and helping with communication issues between agencies. Assistant Secretary Roy Grizzard explains, “This alliance formalizes the relationship we have had with SHRM, benefiting SHRM as it serves its membership with the resources ODEP brings to the table and offering ODEP the opportunity for broader contact with human resource professionals.”
The US Dept. of Labor says that “only by addressing drug and alcohol abuse among the entire workforce – those currently employed and those preparing to enter employment – can a drug-free American workforce be achieved.”
This is the reason behind expanding the existing Michigan Drug Free Workplace Alliance. The alliance was established in 2004 as the first cooperative agreement on improving worker safety through drug abuse prevention, with a focus on the construction and mining industries. The expanded program addresses substance abuse, specifically alcohol abuse and illegal drug use.
The Secretary of Labor, Elaine Chao, recently appeared at the signing of this expanded alliance. The signing took place at the US Census Bureau and involved leaders from five labor unions, who are members of the Drug-free Workplace Alliance, and leaders from five contractor associations.
According to the US Dept of Labor, drug and alcohol abuse is very costly for businesses. Costs include increased absenteeism, low employee morale, higher illness rates, errors and accidents. The OSHA says that many fatal accidents in the workplace are a result of substance abuse.
Many companies that are part of the alliance choose to take certain measures to protect their businesses from substance abuse. These measures include pre-employment drug screening and random drug testing.
These companies recognize that employers have enormous power when it comes to protecting their companies from alcohol and drug abuse. Educating employees about the dangers and encouraging those with substance abuse problems to seek help is the main way to combat this alcohol and drug abuse in the workplace.
Business owners have the power to prevent unnecessary dangers and expenses associated with drug or alcohol abuse. The best way to do this is by educating employees about the dangers and encouraging individuals with alcohol and drug problems to seek help. Some companies that are currently part of the alliance have chosen to use random drug testing or pre-employment drug screen in the substance abuse prevention programs.
A couple of the contracting societies present at the signing include the National Asphalt Pavement Association and the Association of Union Constructors.
This new alliance highlight’s the secretary’s commitment to working with unions and contractor associations to protect worker safety and health.
According to a Michigan OSHA Alert, two manufacturers, Craftsman and Troy-Bilt, have issued a voluntary recall of some of their chainsaws. The chainsaws are widely used in construction, landscaping and lumbering industries. They pose a serious threat to worker safety.
Several workers have been seriously injured when the handle broke off. One worker was severely burned when he accidentally grabbed the hot muffler while trying to control the defective chainsaw. Another worker received severe bruises and a sprained wrist, while another was injured when the blade caused severe cuts.
The saws in question are Craftsman’s “Incredi-Pull” and four models manufactured by Troy-Bilt. All of the models involved in the recall have either an 18- or a 20-inch blade. They are made with a two-cycle gasoline engine. The engines have a capacity of at a minimum, 46ccs, and a maximum of 55ccs. When contacted, the manufacturer will send a safety kit with instructions, and a replacement handle. Even if the chainsaw has not yet had a problem, employers are urged to discontinue use of the affected saws until the safety kit and replacement handle have been installed.
CPSC has been in charge of consumer product safety for over 3 decades. They monitor more than 15,000 consumer products for chemical, mechanical, electrical and fire hazards, as well as injury to children. Serious injury and death due to product defects cost the nation more than $700 billion annually. In the 30+ years CPSC has been monitoring consumer products, deaths and serious injury has been reduced by 30 percent.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in conjunction with OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, have issued the warning to alert consumers of the risk of serious injury associated with a defect on the saws. According to reports, the plastic handle on the chainsaws can snap, making it difficult for workers to regain control of the saw, while putting workers in a potentially life-threatening situation.