Did You See Bill Moyers Last Week?  

If you missed it (as I did), then I highly recommend taking a look at his report on workplace safety. Thanks to the Charlotte Observer (yeah for smaller papers doing real reporting), you get a really good picture at what's really at stake for all of us.

Here's a sample:

BOB WHITMORE: The mission of OSHA is to take care of American Workers. If OSHA can't or won't do its job, it's up to you all to make it do the job.

BILL MOYERS: That's Bob Whitmore, a longtime civil servant at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration - or OSHA. And that's his lawyer sitting behind him. Whitmore's been placed on administrative leave, and he's testifying as a private citizen despite his two decades of expertise overseeing the agency's injury and illness records.

BOB WHITMORE: Information is inaccurate to impart to wide-scale underreporting

BILL MOYERS: As you'll see, Whitmore has a record of challenging the credibility of reports companies are required to provide OSHA about injuries and illnesses workers suffer on the job. The Chairman of the Committee, Representative George Miller of California, had some strong remarks about OSHA's performance.

GEORGE MILLER: OSHA refuses to recognize that the problem exists. We simply must not allow the lack of information to allow hazardous conditions to exist, putting workers lives and limbs at risk.

BILL MOYERS: Businesses, on the other hand, say the requirements are cumbersome, and have long pressured the agency for weaker standards of regulation.

The pressure's paid off. THE NEW YORK TIMES' Stephen Labaton reported last year that since George W. Bush became president, the agency has left worker safety largely in the hands of industry, and has issued the fewest significant standards in its history.

Then, last February, came another strong indictment. THE CHARLOTTE OBSERVER published an investigative series on how and why OSHA has let companies in the poultry industry get away with reporting inaccurate information about injured workers. As often happens in journalism, The OBSERVER reporters were in pursuit of one story when an unexpected lead sent them on to something bigger. What happened is the subject of this report from our colleagues at Exposé. Sylvia Chase narrates.

NARRATOR: In the fall of 2005, reporters at THE CHARLOTTE OBSERVER were hard at work researching and reporting a story that gripped the nation: the avian flu.

For much of the media, the story was an end in itself. For the OBSERVER, it was only the beginning.

FRANCO ORDOÑEZ: The workers would tell me, if if there is avian flu here in this plant, we're going to get it. But we really have much more serious problems right here, right now.

The problems the workers described were not about disease…they were about on-the-job injuries.

FRANCO ORDOÑEZ: They're cutting thousands of thousands of times without breaks, you know, developing tendonitis problem, hand problems, wrist problems, uh, shoulder and back problems; a lot of workers having carpal tunnel and not being able to get medical care, because every time they go to the nurse to say, hey, I'm in pain, they either get written up or told that they're not being -- they're not hurting from this job and it's something else.

And that is just a teaser.

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