I think I'm Going To Be Sick  

I wanted an update on the scaffolding collapse on the Arkansas River. Luckily I saw that Yahoo posted something. I also thought, wow, still nothing on Yahoo front page about the American Axle strike, but I digress.

I pull up the story and to my horror, I get a description I didn't want to read much less hold as an imagine in my brain.

Recovery teams could not enter the water because it was raining and currents in the already-swollen river made it too dangerous, said John Rehrauer, a spokesman for the Pulaski County Sheriff's Office.

The river was swollen but these men were still working; made me want to cry. But the article then took a decidedly worse turn into something I hate even repeating much less typing,

The body that was found had been entangled in rope that was attached to the heavy platform.

Oh, GOD! Why do any of us need to know this? This was a human being. He has family and friends.

"They were cheerful guys, trying to make a living like everybody else," said Charles Jackson, a fellow worker. He said he had been on the platform earlier Wednesday and noticed no safety problems.

Now even with all of this information, more than I wanted, really, I worried most when I read what the Sherrif had to say about the investigation of the accident:

Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspectors would lead investigation into the accident, he said.

OSHA? The agency charged with occupational safety that's been missing since January of 2001? From McClatchy

Saying companies that ignore workplace hazards face little more than a "slap on the wrist," lawmakers on Tuesday called for stiffer penalties and stronger enforcement against chronic violators.

The story refers to recent testimony before Congress and includes numbers that make me sick:

In the poultry industry, fines for serious violations — including conditions that could cause deaths and disabling injuries — are usually cut by more than half, to an average of about $1,100.

"I've had young kids come up to me and say, "My dad's life was only worth $3,000?" said Jerry Scannell, who headed the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration under the first President Bush. "The penalty has got to be significant enough to be a deterrent to others too."

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the subcommittee chair, spoke of the "horrifying and rampant" abuses detailed by the Observer and said she would like to see far stiffer penalties against "corporate bad actors."

She and Kennedy have introduced legislation that calls for up to 40 percent higher fines — as much as $100,000 for willful and repeat violations — and criminal penalties for repeat and willful violations of safety laws.

"I am very concerned because the evidence shows that in the last seven years, OSHA has been dangerously ineffective," Murray said.

Emphasis mine

I think this quote from the McClatchy article really sums it up for me:

"But the biggest single obstacle to effective intervention is simple lack of political will," Frumin, the union official, testified.

I'm counting the days until we take back this country.


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