U.S. Military Baffled by Increases in Suicides

Suicide rate in military rising quickly despite the withdrawal from Iraq and pullback in Afghanistan. Suicide among active-duty troops hit a record of 350 in 2012,  twice as many as a decade before. The suicide rate in the military has caught up to the civilian rate, above 18 per 100,000 people. Although the Pentagon has commissioned numerous reports and invested tens of millions of dollars in research and prevention programs, experts concede they are little closer to understanding the root causes of why military suicide is rising so fast. But an emerging view is that a complex web of factors usually underlie military suicide, including mental illness, sexual or physical abuse, addictions, failed relationships and financial struggles. The New York Times

Top U.S. retail industry group criticizes global pact aimed at improving Bangladesh garment factories. The National Retail Federation said the agreement, which is supported by big European companies, would leave retailers open to legal action and require major funding without providing accountability The five-year contract calls for companies to help pay for fire safety and building improvements in Bangladesh, where a building collapse in April killed more than 1,110 workers. The plan so far covers more than 1,000 of Bangladesh’s 5,000 garment factories, according to IndustriALL Global Union, a Geneva-based group involved in the negotiations. Only two U.S. firms signed: PVH Corp. and Abercrombie & Fitch. The Associated Press

Mexican bus company ordered to halt U.S. operations. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration called the company, Autobuses Zacatecanos, an imminent safety hazard. It operated primarily between Zacatecanos, Mexico, and Los Angeles, but also had occasional trips to Denver, Phoenix and Chicago. FMCSA officials said during a surprise inspection investigators found 34 safety violations, including failing to perform inspections and maintenance repairs and failing to require drivers to follow hours-of service restrictions. The investigation was part of a “Quick Strike” safety program launched last month. In the past three weeks, officials have shut bus companies in Washington D.C., Georgia, Ohio, New York and Utah. Land LineCommercial Carrier Journal

Fines of $178,850 proposed for Pennsylvania excavating firm. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration accused Lumadue Excavating of West Decatur, Pa., of 12 violations involving trenching hazards at two work sites. That included two willful violations, the agency’s most serious charge, for allegedly failing to provide a system to prevent a trench cave-in. OSHA put Lumadue, which also was accused of five repeat offenses, in its its Severe Violator Enforcement Program for recalcitrant employers that endanger workers. “This company continues to take unnecessary safety risks,” an OSHA official said. OSHA

Fire that hospitalized three workers with serious burns leads to 22 charges against federal contractors. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration charged Emcor Group of Arlington, Va., with six violations and EEC Inc. of Landover, Md., with 16 violations. The charges involved, among other things, exposing workers to flammable vapor hazards. OSHA began its investigation last November after a fire broke out in the ductwork of a Washington, D.C. building whose insulation was being replaced by the two companies. Overall, proposed penalties for the two companies total $60,200. OSHA

 Compiled by Stuart Silverstein

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