Workplace Safety and Health

Air Check

Leaf blowers can make an infernal racket, and environmental officials say that exhaust from blowers and other gas-powered lawn and garden equipment is a surprisingly big source of air pollution. But are landscaping workers who use the equipment day in and day out exposed to potentially harmful emissions? A 2006 study by the U.S. Environmental…

Noisy, But That's Not All

Noisy, But That’s Not All

Leaf Blowers Flagged as Prodigious Polluters -- And Possible Health Threat

Five years after starting his first job with a landscaping crew in the suburbs of Seattle, Fredi Dubon decided he had enough and called it quits. The work days were long, sometimes 12 hours, but a bigger problem was having to inhale exhaust from his gas-powered leaf blower.

U.S. Senators Ask: What's Up at OSHA? FairWarining Reports

U.S. Senators Ask: What’s Up at OSHA?

In the four months since President Trump took office, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued four news releases announcing penalties for job safety violations. By the end of May last year, it had issued 199. The recent reticence has spurred six U.S. senators, all Democrats, to ask what’s up at OSHA. In…

Cone of Silence on Enforcement News from U.S. Labor Department FairWarining Investigates

Cone of Silence on Enforcement News from U.S. Labor Department

Editor's note: See update at bottom of story.

In November, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced fines against businesses with workers who were killed when they were pulled into a wood chipper, burned in a refinery fire and crushed in collapsing grain bins and construction trenches. In all, OSHA issued 33 enforcement news releases that month, and over 50 more from…

A Grim Pattern: Presidential Voting and Workplace Deaths FairWarining Reports

A Grim Pattern: Presidential Voting and Workplace Deaths

More than 4,800 American workers are killed on the job each year. But in states that were carried by Donald Trump, the chances of dying at work are higher than in states that Hillary Clinton won. With a single exception, the states that voted Republican had at least three job-related deaths per 100,000 workers, according…

OSHA's Wall of Shame FairWarining Investigates

OSHA’s Wall of Shame

With Limited Staff, Agency Targets 'Severe Violators'

Soon after beginning their cleanup of a fume-filled tanker car at an Omaha, Neb., rail maintenance yard, Adrian LaPour and Dallas Foulk were dead. An explosion that April 2015 afternoon trapped LaPour in a flash fire inside the car and hurled Foulk out the top to his death. Six months later their employer, Nebraska Railcar…

They're Everywhere! FairWarining Investigates

They’re Everywhere!

Big Companies in Legal Scrapes Turn to Science-for-Hire Giant Exponent

The Fall of Icarus is the Greek myth about a youth who gets a pair of wax-and-feather wings but soars too close to the sun–melting the wings and casting him into the sea. In the 1990s, a consulting firm called Failure Analysis Associates ran tongue-in-cheek ads aimed at corporate lawyers that retold the myth as…

When a Workplace Tragedy is Also a Crime

When a Workplace Tragedy is Also a Crime

When we hear about shootings, bank robberies, or home invasions, we expect the perpetrators to be arrested, tried, and punished appropriately if they are found guilty. When a drunk driver kills an innocent bystander, we treat that death as a criminal act punishable with fines and jail time. When an employer ignores workplace safety and…

Recycling is a Feel Good Activity, But Not for Workers Hurt or Killed on the Job FairWarining Investigates

Recycling is a Feel Good Activity, But Not for Workers Hurt or Killed on the Job

Darkness had enveloped the Newell Recycling yard by the time Erik Hilario climbed into a front-end loader on a cold evening in January 2011. Just 19 years old, Hilario, an undocumented immigrant, had followed his father from Mexico to an industrial park in East Point, Ga., near Atlanta, where they worked as low-skilled laborers amid…

Federal Agency That Protects Whistleblowers Accused of Retaliating Against One of its Own FairWarining Reports

Federal Agency That Protects Whistleblowers Accused of Retaliating Against One of its Own

For nearly five years, Darrell Whitman was a federal investigator who probed whistleblowers’ complaints about being fired or otherwise punished for exposing alleged corporate misconduct. He wanted to help whistleblowers, viewing them as a crucial line of defense against employers who violated health and safety standards or wasted taxpayer dollars. But now Whitman, 70, is…