Thursday, May 9, 2013

You're more likely to die at work...

On Patriots' Day in Boston two bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon killing three people and injuring well over 100 others. After the suspected bomber was arrested he was subject to interrogation without the presence of counsel because of a supposed ongoing emergency. In the aftermath the government is ramping up its information harvesting and profiling that it instituted after the 9/11 attacks.

Near the finish line of the BP 150 bike ride the following weekend, there were police snipers atop buildings in downtown Austin. There have been calls for enhanced security measures at races as well. No word on how this was supposed to stop any would-be terrorists from wreaking havoc near the finish (also, no word on why any would-be terrorist would pick a bike race in Texas to make their strike).

Out in West, Texas, a fertilizer plant that was allowed to operate in the city exploded killing 14, injuring hundreds more and damaging scores of houses and buildings. There was a nursing home near the plant as well as two schools. The source of the explosion was ammonium nitrate although no one has determined just how the chemical ignited.

In the aftermath of the explosion Gov. Rick Perry has repeatedly touted loose business regulation as a prime benefit for companies to move their operations to Texas. There have been no calls for more vigorous regulation of fertilizer plants. There have been no calls to restrict the locations of fertilizer plants. And, following the disclosure that the plant only one $1 million in insurance, there has been no outcry from our elected leaders in Austin about the business being underinsured.

Nationwide there are an average of 13 workplace deaths a day. There were just under 4700 workers killed on the job in 2011 - that's more than died in the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 and in Boston combined. Not surprisingly, Texas led the nation with 433 workplace deaths in 2011. That makes 2011 the 17th consecutive year that more than 400 people have died as a result of workplace accidents in Texas.

So where is the call for improved safety regulations in the workplace? Where are the calls to determine who is responsible for workplace deaths? Where are the questions about how corporate executives rake in astronomical salaries but little is spent on preventing workplace deaths and injuries?

How many more workers must die on the job before we give a damn?


Walter Reaves said...

For what it's worth - the fertilizer plant is outside the city limits, so the city had no control over it. It was also about 3/4 mile from my house - or at least what used to be my house

Paul B. Kennedy said...


Thanks for pointing that out. I am so sorry about your loss.