Children, outdoor enthusiasts, and workers alike are at risk from the hidden hazards of mines.
North Dakota worker safety is in danger from these active and abandoned sites, where mine shafts, tunnels, and other hazards could lead to serious or fatal accidents.
“Stay Out – Stay Alive” is a campaign geared to warning both workers and the public about the risks. Among the tragic victims of mine accidents are children, who sometimes wander or trespass onto abandoned mining property to play. Sometimes workers who are not directly related to the mining industry but are working on mine sites may accidentally fall into a mine shaft or suffer other kinds of accidents.
Since 1999, more than 200 people have died in accidents at mining sites. In a single year, 2006, 30 people or more aged 17 to 51 died in accidents at underground or surface mine sites.
The “Stay Out – Stay Alive” program is now in its ninth year. Under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), “Stay Out – Stay Alive” has encouraged many businesses, individuals, private groups, and state and federal agencies to become actively involved in the effort to warn about the dangers of mining sites. For example, Department of Labor mining health and safety teams are going into scouting organizations and schools, teaching children to stay away from the risky sites.
The numerous dangers of a mine site, whether abandoned or active, include tunnels that may cave in. Those tunnels also may contain poisonous gases. They may flood. Or they may harbor insects and poisonous snakes.
There are roughly a half-million abandoned mines and 14,000 active ones in the U.S., according to Richard E. Stickler, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health.
“Many of them contain hidden hazards and, for those not trained to work in mines, the outcome can be deadly,” said Assistant Secretary Stickler. “That’s why we urge workers to ‘Stay Out – Stay Alive.’”
A North Dakota unemployment grant should help bring jobs to the state, particularly in areas with higher rates of unemployment. Jobless rates remain high there despite a national unemployment rate of only 4%.
Other states can benefit from the same grant. Called WIRED, it is designed to give a boost to regions where unemployment remains high.
A North Dakota unemployment grant would be great news for the state’s workers. An Indiana grant came during the second round of WIRED grants. Now, bidding has begun for the third round.
Economists label any jobless rate below 5% as a labor shortage. The job outlook for college-educated and skilled workers is even better than the national 4% average, and hovers around 1.9%. Still, certain regions of the U.S. seem “immune” to the general improvement in employment, and have long histories of joblessness. The WIRED grant is designed to target those regions.
WIRED grants may be awarded at up to $5 million each. The competitions for the grants are open to all states and territories. Governors in each have gotten letters informing them that it is time to apply for the new round. A governor is allowed to make two proposals (because the grants target regions), and the competition is stiff, but the rewards are worth it. Each region must show what other private, regional and state funding it is receiving.
“The WIRED Initiative,” said Secretary Chao, “recognizes that local economies often do not neatly conform to geographic boundaries.” She said WIRED brings different organizations together to help prepare workforces by supplying them with “the skills needed to succeed in the 21st century worldwide economy.” Those organizations may be economic development groups, foundations, community colleges, businesses and universities.
WIRED is the acronym for Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development. The Labor Department established the WIRED grants in February 2006. At that time it selected 13 regions.
Those who read this blog on a regular basis are aware of the value of the WIRED grants.
Because of a risk of asbestos exposure, a recent advisory was issued concerning North Dakota Worker Safety. Employers and workers in the automobile repair industry need to be aware that the brakes and clutches on older trucks and cars can contain asbestos.
Asbestos exposure poses a health threat to mechanics and other workers in auto repair shops. Because it breaks easily, asbestos can be inhaled. Once inside the body, the tiny particles can cause a variety of serious illnesses. In fact, diseases related to asbestos exposure cause 10,000 people to die every year in the U.S. The diseases caused by asbestos exposure include gastrointestinal cancer, lung cancer, asbestosis, and mesothelioma.
Although it is an extremely rare type of cancer, mesothelioma appears more often in workers who were exposed to asbestos. Mesothelioma is a disease in which cells that are malignant form in the internal organs, specifically in the lining of these organs. In addition, linings that cover the abdomen and heart may develop these malignant cells.
In most cases, mesothelioma appears in people who have been around the fibers and dust of asbestos. In addition, people who are exposed to asbestos at work also put their families in danger. The fibers and dust from asbestos are on the worker’s clothing, which is then washed at home.
When workers are exposed long-term to asbestos in an industry such as mining, they can develop asbestosis. Asbestosis is considered an occupational lung disease. It impacts lung tissues and is an inflammatory disease that is chronic. People who develop asbestosis have a higher risk of lung cancer and often suffer from a shortness of breath that can be severe.
Although asbestos was used in a variety of industries for many centuries, the hazards of working with this material have come to light only in recent times. In the past, lamp wicks used asbestos, as did burial cloths used by ancient Egyptians. Legend has it that Charlemagne had a table cloth of asbestos. In modern times, care must be exercised when the possibility of asbestos exposure exists.
Curbing drug and alcohol abuse in the workplace protects workers’ health and safety. And it’s good business.
This is the message of OSHA and the North Dakota Drug Free Workplace Alliance, which is one tool in the toolbox that is helping to repair the damage involved in employee drug and alcohol abuse. Five of the tools are setting up a policy, getting supervisors trained in what needs to be done, helping employees with abuse problems, teaching them about the dangers, and testing for drugs. OSHA, or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, stresses that the programs, particularly the drug testing aspect, must be what it describes as reasonable, and must take rights to privacy into account.
You as an employer are not required to create a drug free workplace program. But the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) says such programs complement other efforts you are probably already making to guarantee worker safety and healthy workplaces. With a program like the North Dakota Drug Free Workplace Alliance, you’re adding value both to your community and to your business.
While participation in the Drug Free Workplace Alliance is voluntary, OSHA supports it strongly, saying such programs are can improve workers’ safety and health and contribute to the value of a business. The results are most noticeable in those work places where heavy machinery is operated – or other such safety-sensitive environments. According to OSHA, thanks to programs like the Alliance, employees can return safely to the workplace once they have treatment, care, and services to back them up.
Drug free workplace programs usually have five key elements for you to consider. They are putting a policy in place, getting your supervisors trained, educating employees and assuring they have assistance, and instituting random drug testing. But OSHA urges that you be reasonable and take your workers’ privacy rights into account, especially in drug testing.
If your company uses chainsaws, this item will be of interest to you.
A recent North Dakota OSHA Alert warns of a recall of some models of chainsaws manufactured by Craftsman and Troy-bilt that have caused injuries to workers.
There have been reports of severe cuts, burns, bruises and sprains caused by these accidents. No deaths have been reported. Most of these accidents have occurred in lumbering, landscaping and construction industries, where these chainsaws and similar equipment is used on a regular basis.
These chainsaws have engine powers ranging from 46cc to 55 cc, and are fueled by gasoline. They are equipped with either an 18-inch or a 20-inch blade. The Craftsman ‘Incredi-Pull’ model has a 55cc two-cycle gasoline engine and has an 18-inch bar. After the alert issued by OSHA, the manufacturers have voluntarily recalled these products from the market.
Several reports received by OSHA allege that the handles of these chainsaws break during heavy use. The handle-less blade runs amok and causes severe injuries before it can be controlled or turned off.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is working with OSHA to protect the workers from these chainsaws. The CPSC is responsible for protecting consumers, workers and children from fire, electrical, chemical, or mechanical hazards involved in the use of different consumer products.
Employers are urged to have workers stop using these chainsaws at once, until the proper safety items can be installed. The employers are instructed to stop their workers from using these chainsaws. They should also contact the Connecticut OSHA or the manufacturers of these chainsaws and request a free safety kit. The safety kit comes with a new and improved handle and instructions on how to install it. These chainsaws must not be used without the new handle. Doing so could result in more accidents, injuries or even death, possibly.
Currently the CPSC has more than 15000 products under its jurisdiction. Accidents involving consumer products, appliances and tools cost more than $700 billion every year.