In yesterday evening's newscast, ABC World News reporter Dianne Sawyer stated that, "A National Workers Memorial was dedicated near Washington, DC and on this day, we learn the Federal Government is about to launch a sweeping crackdown on dangerous work places." Sawyer noted that "thousands of workers are killed on the job every year." Another ABC reporter added that in 2007, there were "more than 5,400 Americans killed on the job," an "average of 14 a day." David Michaels, administrator, Occupational Safety and Health Administration said this: "I think there are a lot of irresponsible employers who don't ensure workers are given safe workplaces to work in."

Good for OSHA. I hope greater enforcement will lead to improved safety. Last year, I handled the cases of several individuals who were horribly burned when the recovery boiler at the Redwood, Mississippi facility of International Paper exploded during a routine start-up. The company had no written procedure to govern the start-up they attempted, and management made the decision to bypass computerized safety mechanisms which were in place to prevent disasters like the one that occurred.

Would the IP explosion have occurred if OSHA had been more diligent in enforcing safety standards? Maybe, maybe not. Irresponsible people will always make poor decisions for selfish reasons. Such is human nature, unfortunately.

That said, I do know this: Greater enforcement of OSHA safety standards may have forced IP to adopt more stringent start-up procedures, and there is a chance these standards could have made a difference. Might and maybe is enough for me. I'm quite certain it is enough for those who sustained burns on over 70% of their bodies.


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