Thursday Briefing

General Motors will make fixes in the Chevrolet Volt to prevent fires after crashes. The automaker said it will upgrade the steel structure and liquid cooling system that surround the battery. GM said it is “optimistic” the action will satisfy the concerns of federal safety regulators who have been investigating the fire risks of the Volt, an electricity and gas-powered hybrid. The New York Times

Wyoming energy officials acknowledge workplace safety failings. A recent assessment linked nearly all of the 62 deaths in Wyoming’s energy industry from 2001 through 2008 to ignored safety rules. The state’s overall workplace death rate has ranked worst in the nation in five of the past 10 years. Casper Star-Tribune

Regulators order makers of surgical mesh implants for women to study the risks. The Food and Drug Administration said it received more than 1,500 reports of complications related to the mesh from 2008 to 2010, including cases where it eroded into the vagina or caused bleeding and infection. The mesh, used to hold pelvic organs in place in women with weakened or damaged tissue, often is used to treat incontinence. Reuters

California launches effort to reduce mercury in the state’s reservoirs. It also plans to establish thresholds for acceptable mercury concentrations in the fish. In all, the state lists 188 creeks, lakes and reservoirs with mercury contamination problems, a result of mercury mining in California.  New Times (San Luis Obispo, Calif.)

Federal panel urges tighter standard to fight lead poisoning in children. If adopted, the proposal by the Advisory Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention could mean hundreds of thousands more children will be diagnosed with lead poisoning. Lead, a metal that for years was common in paint and gasoline, can harm a child’s brain, kidneys and other organs. The Associated Press

OSHA cites New York discount retailer over padlocked emergency exits and other violations. The federal workplace safety agency has proposed up to $90,000 in fines against the Conway Stores location in the Bronx. “When every second counts, workers can’t afford to wait until keys can be located, applied to multiple padlocks and the locks removed,” an OSHA official said. OSHA

Key government scientist urges broader research on the impact of shale gas drilling. Christopher Portier, director of the National Center for Environmental Health at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, called for more study of the effects on human health and the environment. Federal officials recently said the controversial drilling technique known as fracking may be responsible for groundwater pollution in a Wyoming community. The Associated Press

BP ordered to improve safety by Norwegian Agency. An investigation by Norway’s Petroleum Safety Agency into a fire last July at the company’s North Sea Valhall platform found “a number of serious breaches” of regulations that could have injured or killed workers. The findings are a setback for BP’s efforts to bolster safety following the April 2010 explosion in the Gulf of Mexico that killed 11 workers. Bloomberg

Asbestos industry dying in Canada, despite government efforts to support it. Canada was left with no active asbestos mines following a production shutdown at one mine and Wednesday’s bankruptcy filing by another company, Quebec-based LAB Chrysotile. The mineral is considered a proven cause of cancer by health authorities around the world, but industry officials continue to push for sales to developing countries where it still is used in construction. The Globe and Mail

Ikea recalls 169,000 high chairs due to fall hazards. The Antilop high chairs have faulty restraint buckles. Consumer Product Safety Commission

More recalls: LED flashlights from Target, Sterno tea lights, shredded cheese from Bekkum Family Farms, Martinelli’s sparking cider bottles

Compiled by Stuart Silverstein

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