Browsing articles tagged with " Job Safety"
Jul 4, 2014
Mary Oso

Job safety concerns peak as 946 die in accidents in H1

With many eyes turned to the issue of workplace safety in Turkey since a recent mine blast in the district of Soma that killed 301 workers, a report has shown that the country saw 946 workers die in work-related accidents in the first six months of the year.

Turkey already has a bleak record for workplace deaths, and health and safety standards are often neglected in the country. An International Labour Organization (ILO) report had earlier listed Turkey as the country with the third-highest number of workplace fatalities in the world.

Work-related accidents claimed 946 lives in the first six months of 2014 according to the latest report released on Thursday by the İstanbul Workers’ Health and Job Safety Assembly. Even more tragic is the fact that 19 of the 946 who died were below the age of 18, exposing the problem of child labor in Turkey.

The report stated that 141 died in work-related accidents in June alone. The number of worker deaths in the first half is already more than the average figure for fatalities in the same months of last year. The İstanbul Workers’ Health and Job Safety Assembly’s annual report for 2013 shows that 1,235 died in work-related accidents in Turkey over the whole year.

According to data released by the Ministry of Labor and Social Security in 2013, 172 work accidents happen daily in Turkey, four of which, on average, are fatal. The ministry estimated the total annual cost of work accidents in Turkey at TL 7.7 billion in the same report last year.

A lack of awareness of work safety measures on the part of employers and a lack of enforcement of occupational health and safety laws are cited as the main reasons for the rising number of workplace deaths. Government negligence and a lack of timely inspections of workplaces worsen the situation. According to recent statistics from the Ministry of Labor and Social Security, out of 1.5 million workplaces in Turkey, less than 9,000 were inspected last year. In the last 11 years, only 90,000 inspections have taken place. Of this number, 46,000 workplaces were discovered by Social Security Institution (SGK) inspectors to have uninsured workers or workers holding fake insurance.

Government officials say both workers and employers are now receiving work safety education to minimize accidents; however, most workers are not happy with safety conditions. In fact, 77 percent of workers are still not satisfied with their workplace safety measures, according to a recent poll conducted by an İstanbul-based firm.

Most work-related deaths this year occurred in the mining, construction, trade and agriculture sectors, Thursday’s report reveals. Turkey has seen a rise in the number of these fatalities over the past decade, with these sectors emerging as the main drivers of rapid economic growth at home.

A total of 313 mine workers died in work-related accidents between January and June of this year, while this number was 175 in the construction sector. Accidents claimed 122 workers’ lives in the agricultural sector and 75 in the transportation sector in the first six months of this year. The number of workers who sustained serious injuries as a result of workplace accidents and had to retire due to disability increased to 2,216 in 2011 from 1,802 in 2013. These people are unable to work and thus receive disability benefits from the state.

Despite expectations that work safety conditions would improve in parallel with Turkey’s economic growth, the country is suffering even greater numbers of fatalities each year. A total of 1,171 workers died in work-related accidents in 2009, and this figure increased to 1,444 in 2010 and 1,700 in 2011. The country has also made only minor progress in harmonizing its workplace safety standards with those of the European Union. A separate report by the ILO had ranked Turkey as the country with the highest number of workplace deaths in Europe for 2012.

Jul 3, 2014
Mary Oso

‘Ban the Box’: LA mulls law to bar employers from asking about criminal past

Los Angeles is considering a motion on a proposed law that would bar employers from asking a job applicant about his or her criminal history on an application as a way to help ex-felons get jobs, reintegrate into society and avoid recidivism.

If L.A. were to adopt such an ordinance, it would be the latest victory in the “Ban the Box” campaign by All of Us or None, a group of formerly incarcerated people, to push for the elimination of the checkbox on job applications asking if a person has been convicted of a felony (or, in some cases, a misdemeanor). The group is pushing to ban such questions from private employers and on housing applications.  The National Employment Law Project has also been a big advocate for the ban the box campaign. 

Similar ordinances have passed in more than 50 cities and states, including Boston and Oakland.

They are designed to encourage employers to judge an applicant based on his or her work history, skill and character before a background check turns up an applicant’s criminal history. Proponents argue such measures are important especially as realignment has shifted custody responsibility for many state prisoners to local county jails.

“Let’s see if they’re qualified, and maybe ask that question at the end, if at all,” said L.A. City Council Member Curren Price, who introduced a motion last month to study what a proposed ordinance would look like in Los Angeles.

On a June Friday, about a hundred people in orange T-shirts demonstrated in support of the ordinance at Los Angeles City Hall, yelling, “Ban the box! Ban the box!”

Some in the audience wiped their shaved heads when a man sporting facial tattoos took the podium to say he hadn’t gotten a call back from one potential employer in the eight months since he left jail.

“If they don’t give us a job. What are we supposed to do?” asked Gabriel Lopez. “Go back to the same old lifestyle? That’s what we’re not trying do.”

RELATED: Should employers be banned from asking if job applicants have convicted crimes?

In other cities, laws differ. Some ban questions about an applicant’s criminal history from governmental job applications. Compton requires businesses with city contracts to adopt the same hiring standards that Compton’s ban the box initiative does.

San Francisco’s law is more expansive. It bans a question about criminal history from applications for municipal jobs, city-contracted business jobs, jobs for private companies that have 20 more employees, and affordable housing applications.

The Los Angeles ordinance would go beyond a state law that already bans the criminal convictions question from city job applications. That state law, AB 218, which took effect Tuesday, requires all state, county and city governments to remove the criminal convictions question from initial public job applications, though it allows agencies to ask about criminal history later in the hiring process.

So why ban questions about criminal history on applications if an employer will discover an applicants’ history later in the process? 

“If you ban the box — and the application states or the employer tells you the next step in the hiring process is a background check  — you’re still in trouble,” said ex-felon Delvon Brown.

Brown got into a bar fight two years ago and was convicted of assault. He’s been working part-time driving a water delivery truck but is looking for full-time work with medical benefits.

He applied for a job with a trash collection company that never asked the question, but Brown said he was upfront about it during the interview. He was given a start date, but at the last minute, Brown said, the employer disqualified him after a background check confirmed his felony conviction.

“I think employers need to outline why they feel the need to do a background check,” Brown said.

Gowri Ramachandran, an employment law professor at Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles, said that employers should justify how past convictions relate to an applicant’s ability to perform the job safety and effectively.

“So if you’ve been convicted of embezzling money, and you’re applying to work at a bank, then it’s probably fine under federal law for an employer to exclude for that reason,” she said.

There is a lot of gray area when past convictions loosely relate to workplace safety.

Employers could be violating Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act when they ask about criminal history or disqualify an applicant based solely on the fact that they have criminal record. But Ramachandran said that’s very difficult for rejected applicants to prove. 

“They would also have to collect evidence that this particular reason, like a felony conviction, really does disparately impact people of color or disparately impact men versus women, or that sort of thing,” she said.

Kim Hopkins runs an electrician company in Tujunga, which contracts with big box stores like Home Depot. He doesn’t ask the “have you ever been convicted of a crime” question in his job applications. When he’s on the phone with people applying for a field electrician position, he asks: “’We’re going to be having to do a background check on you. Is that going to work out?’” he said. “And typically, I will lose about 25 percent of the potential employees right there.”

Hopkins said he does background checks on most of his employees because they are working in people’s homes with potentially valuable property or in schools and businesses with vulnerable populations like children.

But applicants for jobs as receptionists or working in his front office don’t have to clear a seven-year background check. Hopkins said he doesn’t have black-and-white hiring standards.

“They can have tattoos all over their entire bodies, and it doesn’t matter,” he said. “It only makes a difference when they are in the softer elements of customer relations.”

The Los Angeles City Council is out on recess most of July so the motion to study what ban the box ordinances other California cities have adopted will probably take time.

And it’s the same for most ex-felons: time or distance since their conviction usually determines what happens next.

*San Francisco first “banned the box” for municipal jobs in 2005. Additions were made in 2014.

**Oakland’s policy on background checks was implemented in 2010.

Jul 2, 2014
Mary Oso

Germany boss Joachim Low sure of job safety

Germany head coach Joachim Low has been assured that he will remain in charge of the national team regardless of how they do at the World Cup in Brazil.

Even if the Germans suffer a shock defeat to Algeria in the last 16 tomorrow, 54-year-old Low won’t be sacked from his position.

“We still have the clear intention of carrying on with him,” German publication Stern quotes German Football Association (DFB) president Wolfgang Niersbach as saying.

“There are no clauses in his contract which state that it depends on certain results.”

Germany have never failed to reach the last eight when they have participated in a World Cup.

Jul 1, 2014
Mary Oso

Off-the-Job Safety: Resist the Temptation to Put on Your Own Fireworks Show

Although celebrating July 4 with a bang might sound like the patriotic thing to do on Independence Day weekend, Massachusetts Eye and Ear physicians urge people to resist the temptation to put on their own fireworks shows.  

Fireworks can cause serious injuries, including burns, lacerations, eye injuries, vision loss, dismemberment and death.

According to a study by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were eight deaths related to fireworks accidents in the United States in 2013 – adding to the 86 fireworks-related deaths recorded since 2000. Illegal and homemade fireworks were involved in all eight deaths.

Some 11,400 people sustained fireworks-related injuries in 2013, and 65 percent of those injuries occurred from June 21-July 21.

  • The parts of the body most often injured were hands and fingers (approximately 36 percent); head, face, and ears (22 percent); eyes (16 percent); and legs (14 percent).
  • More than half (62 percent) of the emergency department-treated injuries were burns, which were the most common injury to all parts of the body (except the eyes, where contusions, lacerations and foreign bodies in the eyes occurred more frequently).
  • Innocent-looking sparklers caused the most damage, accounting for an estimated 2,300 emergency department-treated injuries. More than 800 visits were caused by firecrackers, while 300 were due to bottle rockets.
  • Sadly, children and young adults were the most frequently affected by fireworks accidents that required emergency room treatment, with children younger than 15 years old accounting for approximately 40 percent of the estimated injuries in 2012, and individuals younger than 25 years of age comprising 59 percent of the injured.

Here’s the bottom line, according to the physicians at Massachusetts Eye and Ear: The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to leave it to the professionals. Take advantage of any professional – and often free – fireworks displays that are available this Independence Day.

Even during a professional display, never handle any fireworks that might remain. If previously ignited, fireworks can discharge and cause injuries. Children should be told not to pick up fireworks if they find them, and to tell an adult immediately.

If an eye injury occurs:

  • Do not try to remove any protruding objects from the eye.
  • Flush the eye with water to remove any particles that are present.
  • Cover the eye loosely for comfort and seek immediate medical attention.
Jun 30, 2014
Mary Oso

Performing JSA (Job Safety Analysis) and safety inspections on smartphones

Performing JSA (Job Safety Analysis) and safety inspections on smartphones


WhaTech Channel: Mobile Applications Channel

Published: Monday, 30 June 2014 21:15

Submitted by Naaman Shibi WhaTech Pro Trial

News from:
Techs4biz Australia – Paperless Inspections using mobile devices

Read: 23 times

With global quarterly smartphone sales passed 350 million phones in mid 2014, the demand for business application is growing rapidly. One of the business applications for smart phone is ability to record Job Safety Analysis electronically.

With global quarterly smartphone sales passed 350  million phones mid 2014, the demand for business application is growing rapidly. One of the business applications for smart phone is ability to record Job Safety Analysis electronically.

The demand for Job Safety Analysis (JSA) software running on smart phones has increased due to the low cost and the availability of the mobile devices.  As most of construction and field workers already carry smart phones, using their phones for completing Job Safety Analysis (JSA) before commencing their activities does not require additional hardware investment.

Job Safety Analysis

Office Database

To maximize utilisation and return-on-investment, Job Safety Analysis (JSA)  applications should be connected to a database back in the office.   JSA application should be designed  to collect information, and transfer information to and from the office database and  back to the smart phone  seamlessly. The office database should provide in real time a variety of  functions including alerts, reports, risk analysis, notifications and analysis tools.

 Job Safety Analysis (JSA) application features should be:

  1. The Application must be easy to use. As it is used in the field, field workers must be able to rapidly ‘master’ the Application, learn how to navigate to their desired screen/function, and adopt the App as an ‘extension’ of their business tools/gadgets.
  2. Offline mode- I am a strong fan of ‘offline mode’ field applications, in which employees can use their App without being dependent on connectivity. The JSA App is therefore replacing paper forms with a significantly better tool – but without the need for continuous connectivity and increased costs. So, how would an ‘offline’ App work without the need for connectivity? It’s pretty simple. The user can send and receive all the required information and pictures wirelessly at any time; but once data is sent or received, users can record all required information directly onto their device while it is ‘offline’. Similar to an email client, the field worker control when and how data is sent back to the office. This eliminating dependency on connectivity in remote  locations or in areas without connectivity (e.g. basements) and reducing costs since data can also be transmitted using Wi-Fi.
  3. Picture-taking and integrating the image with the JSA results and/or Hazards  is essential. Employees must be able to snap images and ‘doodle’ on their pictures as required (e.g. identifying the hazard or the non-compliance). In addition, wireless transmission of pictures must be done efficiently and securely without exposing your server to security breaches.
  4.  Simplifying data collection by standardizing functions and drop-down lists is essential. The employee  must be able to select values from as many drop-down lists as possible for example- (Hazard identification, precautions, equipment required, environmental hazards, ,and therefore minimize data entry.
  5. Speech to Text- the JSA application should also allow for Speech to Text conversion of findings and recommendation to save time while entering the data in the field.
  6. Signature – sign on the glass by the employee completing the JSA.

For more information:

News From

Techs4biz Australia - Paperless Inspections using mobile devicesTechs4biz Australia
Category: Mobile Workforce and Asset Management

Jun 29, 2014
Mary Oso

Creaking Plants, Lax Regulations Make Indian Factories Death Traps

As buildings go, factories have a certain presence. The distorted steel structures with twisted metallic innards, the dank storage areas, the enormous cooling towers, the whoosh of an assembly line, the hiss of the gas cutter, the burning steel furnaces — all of them add up.

The various parts that make up modern industry — if not properly attended to — can turn into death traps.

Ideally, a water tight safety protocol backs these busy hives. Being an industrial employee in India alas is far from ideal. It is a deadly job. Safety protocols at too many factories are non-existent – life is on the line.

A series of recent accidents underline this risk starkly. The list of accidents is long and the toll seriously high. Five persons were killed on Saturday (28 June) and seven others injured when a blast triggered by a suspected gas leak took place in a ship being dismantled at the Alang ship-breaking yard in Bhavnagar district of Gujarat.

On 27th of June, 2014, an inferno following a blast at the GAIL pipeline in East Godaveri district of Andhra Pradesh killed 16 people and injured 15 others.

Gas leaks crept up unseen at the Bhilai steel plant on June 13 2014 killing 6 workers and injuring 40 more. 

On June 16, two engineers died of suspected gas leak at the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant. Earlier, on June 2, a blast at the Cordite Factory in Aruvankadu near Ooty injured eight persons.

On May 20, one person died and six other employees of the Neyveli Lignite Corporation (NLC) sustained burns after the steam pipeline exploded. 

Just ten days later, on May 30, four persons were killed in an explosion at a firecracker manufacturing unit in Coimbatore.

According to the data site, 576 people died in factory related industrial mishaps in 2011.

This figure may be an understatement as in its ground-breaking report on work conditions in 2005, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimated as many as 40,000 fatalities in India on an average every year. Sources in the ILO maintain that the very nature of UN organised sector in India means that the actual number of injuries and deaths are vastly under-reported.

On paper, the various ministries have a labyrinth of laws so stringent it would appear that India aims to make the factory a workers’ paradise. Yet walk into a plant and you face the terrifying reality. There is no proverbial escape when disaster strikes.

The real issue is a combination of old plants and the lack of will to spend on industrial security. Says R Chakrapani, a senior consultant at RAMS Safety Consultants, a company that provides industrial safety services, “At the best of times, industrial safety is not on the top of the agenda when it comes to a business plan. In times of an industrial slowdown, this neglect is accentuated. India Inc. needs to wake up to putting in place safety protocols on a priority basis. Ironically over the long run these protocols actually save costs for the company from attracting better workforce to avoiding disastrous costs in case of accidents.”

The present spurt of accidents has many reasons but one underlying issue is lack of timely safety audits. Independent safety audits are not undertaken as per law by a majority of firms.

Agrees K S Ravichandran of the ILO India office, “While the Government of India in recent years have been promoting industrial safety through continuous campaigns and building the capacity of all the stakeholders, there is a serious need to prioritise the implementation of the above national policy  through a time-bound action plan in order to enhance the industrial safety. ”

Lack Of Oversight Capacity
While corruption endemic to such audits may be one of the main causes the capacity constraints on the part of auditors is also a major impediment.

The government departments concerned with industrial safety oversight are ill equipped. The main body for industrial safety in India is the Directorate General, Factory Advisory Service and Labour Institutes. However, this body is severely understaffed. It has only 129 technical officers of whom only 92 are engineers. Its technical staff beside the officer cadre comprises of 81 people. This staff strength simply is not enough for the mandate of this organisation.

In India, according to the working group industrial safety and health’s report for the fifth five year plan, there are  69 coal mines, 67 oil and gas fields  and 1,770 non-coal mines in operation.  The report says that “The matter of serious concern is the occurrence of disasters at regular intervals in coal mines, mostly in underground mines and also in some of the metalliferous mines i.e. irons ore, soapstone and granite mines.”

In the coal mines and related industries in the state of Chhattisgarh alone, on an average, 100 deaths happen every year.

Dangerous industrial Clusters
In India there are entire industrial clusters where workers safety is brazenly ignored. These include the city of Sivakasi, which is India’s fire cracker hub. Here accidents are a way of life. A major explosion here in September 2012 killed 38 people mostly children who are employed to work in the factories. However, no lessons were apparently learned as two workers were killed in an explosion on June 26 2014. Since 2005, an estimated 100 people have died in industrial accidents in this town and despite repeated interventions by ILO and many non-governmental organisations, the situation continues to be the same.

Similarly dangerous is the Alang shipyard in Gujarat where more than 270 deaths have occurred over the last decade. In October 2012, 6 persons were killed in a fire at the shipyard. Again in March 2014, two workers were killed and three critically injured when a steel plate fell on them.

Despite being aware of the high levels of danger at specified industrial clusters, India’s safety regime has done little by the way of improving safety conditions.

As the Indian manufacturing sector looks to pick up steam on a priority basis, under the new government, India will do well to beef up its lax Industrial safety regime.  While the government-owned working group is aware of the problems, clearly much needs to be done in terms of funding regulators and carrying out timely  safety audits. Till this is taken up through financial intervention and political will, India will remain one of the most dangerous places for workers in the world. The legacy of the world’s greatest industrial disaster at the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal that killed 4,000 people in a gas leak and an estimated 15,000 from its effect over the years, continues to castw a long shadow over the Indian manufacturing sector.

Jun 28, 2014
Mary Oso

If we care about Britain’s future, we must not forget our past

In June, only the rain and our hopeless optimism that summer awaits connect us to the Britain of my parents, who married 100 years ago on 29 June in a Barnsley registry office.

  1. Harry’s Last Stand: How the World My Generation Built is Falling Down, and What We Can Do to Save it

  2. by

    Harry Leslie Smith

  1. Tell us what you think: Star-rate and review this book

Time and tide separate us from those days, when women were denied the right to vote and suffragettes battled in the streets for the right to be treated as equals. Back then we were a colonial power that controlled a quarter of the world’s population with a brutal efficiency that would be condemned today for its imperialism and human rights violations. Ireland was occupied by our soldiers and on the verge of civil war because of our unconscionable actions across the centuries as overlords of an enslaved people. It was a time when our nation stood as the mightiest military and economic power in the world, but when unions at home were forced to fight protracted battles for organised labour to increase the wages of workers and enshrine on-the-job safety.

Yet, in that sea of horrendous inequities the government of the day did recognise that if action was not taken, Britain would devolve into warring tribes of those that have and those that have not. Lloyd George’s Liberal government paid more than lip service to the working class that comprised 80% of the population. From 1906 until the start of the first world war, the government tried to balance the growing inequalities caused by extreme poverty and obscene wealth by introducing a rudimentary pension plan, school meals, a children’s charter, and the National Insurance Act to help assist those who had been injured on the job.

Still, it was far from paradise and, for the ordinary person, life was brutish and short. Yet, as my father often remarked to me during many occasions of his hard-pressed life: “Where there’s life there’s hope.”

I suppose it is in that spirit of hope and love that my parents chose to marry. My dad had been a miner since the age of 12 and my mum had worked in service from the time she had reached puberty. All they knew was hard physical work and the joys of a Sunday off to stroll in the park. Like most from that era their pleasures were simple because that is all they could afford.

They were people of few expectations or knowledge of the outside world. In fact, when they went to enjoy a wedding lunch in a local pub they were unaware that the day before in a far-off country, an heir to a kingdom was murdered and the die was cast for Europe to plunge into a war that would leave more than 10 million soldiers dead and transform the landscape of Britain for ever.

In the here and now, 100 years later, British society has radically changed. We are a more inclusive country, we have more leisure, better healthcare and improved living conditions. Yet life is far from perfect because our society still accepts poverty as normal. About 30% of children in the UK are living in poverty. People still go hungry. The Trussel Trust has more than 400 food banks across our nation and a Church Action report in 2013 stated that half a million people were reliant on food aid. Even workers’ rights have been diminished in the 21st century, with zero-hour contracts and the 2013 Enterprise and Regularity Reform Act, which scrapped a 114-year-old obligation of employer liability for their employees’ health and safety in the work place.

Moreover, by looking at recent byelections where voter turnout was less than 30%, and the European parliament and local elections where fewer than 50% of eligible voters cast a ballot, we are relinquishing our democratic franchise that women of my mother’s generation fought for in the streets of Britain.

So at the very least, as the days stumble into summer like a newborn lamb, we must remind ourselves of the struggles our ancestors endured to ensure we had a decent, meaningful and happy life. We must renew our bond with those past battles and carry on the fight to preserve our dignity as human beings.

Like my parents’ generation, we don’t know what will befall us, so we should gird ourselves for the future by remaining informed participants in our destiny.

Jun 27, 2014
Mary Oso

Mayor Taveras highlights successful 2014 summer jobs program – WLNE

by Shannon O’Hara

Thursday morning Mayor Taveras visited the Providence youth of Inspiring Minds to recognize the work throughout the community.

Inspiring Minds, a Providence nonprofit dedicated to helping students succeed in school, is administered by many organizations including Workforce Solutions of Providence/Cranston and the Providence Department of Parks and Recreation. 

The program is designed to “give young people valuable work experience that will help them be more marketable to employers and stay on a path to success,” according to Taveras.

Among the many programs, Providence youth are employed at Boys and Girls Clubs of Providence, Goodwill Industries of Rhode Island and Youth in Action.

“Youth involved in the summer jobs program gain valuable work experience and are making a real impact in their neighborhoods at the same time,” said Terri Adelman, Executive Director of Inspiring Minds.

New features are added to this year’s Workforce Solution’s summer program, including job safety and worker’s rights training.

Jun 26, 2014
Mary Oso

Off-the-Job Safety: Summer is the Season for Burns

Last year, 450,000 people sought medical treatment for burn injuries, and 40,000 were hospitalized. Not surprisingly, summer – with its cookouts and campfires – is the busiest season for burn injuries.

“The old adage of ‘When you play with fire, you get burned’ is true,” says Richard Gamelli, M.D., director of the burn unit at Loyola University Medical Center. “You must always be very serious and attentive when fire is involved. Injuries due to fire happen easily and fast, especially when children are involved or alcohol has been abused.”

Gamelli, who also serves as president of the International Society for Burn Injuries, points out that young children are especially vulnerable. Oftentimes, kids burn themselves by touching the sides of cooking grills.

Parents should keep children away from cooking areas at all times, Gamelli says, and they should watch kids closely even after the cooking is done, because grills remain hot.

Likewise, adults should exercise caution when approaching the previous night’s campfire.

“At Loyola, we have had patients who got burned after contact with a log from the previous night’s fire, thinking the fire was out,” Gamelli says. “Fire can burn for hours after ignition and the temperature can remain dangerously hot.”

Gamelli offers these safety tips for fire pits, barbecues and campfires:

  • Keep an eye on anything that burns.
  • Keep children and pets away from the cooking area and supervise them around recreational fires.
  • Place the barbecue, fire pit or campfire in an open area away from all walls, fences or other structures, especially wooden construction that can ignite.
  • Never burn anything in, on or under a garage, breezeway, carport, porch, deck or any other structure that can catch fire.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher close at hand and be familiar with how to operate it.
  • If you burn yourself, or someone else is burned, seek immediate medical attention.
  • Do not abuse alcohol while around fire.
  • Place a metal cover over a burning fire pit to contain embers.
  • Never leave a fire burning unattended.
  • Coals and logs can burn and stay hot for a long time – do not kick them or touch them and cover them to protect others from accidental contact.

“Whether a campfire, a fire pit or a barbecue grill, you should always take extreme care when using devices that have the potential to cause great harm to yourself and others if used in a careless, irresponsible manner,” Gamelli says.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, burns and fires are the third-leading cause of death in the home. In 2010, a fire-related death occurred every 169 minutes. A fire injury occurred every 30 minutes.

Jun 25, 2014
Mary Oso

Labor deal at ports to expire

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LOS ANGELES – The West Coast ports that are America’s gateway for hundreds of billions of dollars of trade with Asia and beyond are no stranger to labor unrest and even violence.

Now, the contract that covers nearly 20,000 dockworkers is set to expire, and businesses that trade in everything from apples to iPhones are worried about disruptions just as the crush of cargo for the back-to-school and holiday seasons begins. With contentious issues including benefits and job security, smooth sailing is no guarantee.

The Port of Stockton is not taking part in the negotiations, Director Richard Aschieris said.

On one side is the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, with its tradition of fierce activism dating to the Great Depression, when two of its members were killed during a strike. On the other is the Pacific Maritime Association, which represents shipping lines and operators of terminals at 29 West Coast ports.

Both acknowledge that they are unlikely to agree on a new contract before the current one expires June 30, but they plan to negotiate past that deadline. That would fit the pattern from contract talks in 2008 and 2002. In 2002, negotiators didn’t reach an agreement until around Thanksgiving after an impasse that led to a 10-day lockout and a big disruption in trade.

The Port of Stockton belongs to the Pacific Maritime Association. It has 100 longshoremen who are members of ILWU Local 54.

“I am not a part of the negotiations,” said Aschieris, director at the port since 2000. “We do monitor. Everything I am hearing is that the discussions are making good progress. They are not completed, and there is more to work out.

“So far, the progress has been good. In the midst of contract negotiations, a lot of rumors fly around the docks. I’ve heard nothing.”

Aschieris added that shipping at the Port of Stockton is up by 20 or so ships at the midpoint of 2014.

The union’s total control over the labor pool means huge bargaining leverage, which negotiators have parlayed into white-collar wages and perks for blue-collar work. A full-time longshoreman earns about $130,000 a year, while foremen earn about $210,000, according to employer data. Workers pay nearly nothing for health coverage that includes no premiums and $1 prescriptions.

Neither side has publicly discussed progress on negotiations that began May 12 in San Francisco, which is headquarters to the union and the maritime association.

Twelve years ago, the shutdown had a lasting impact on how products moved in and out of the United States. Hulking cranes idled. Ships anchored in San Francisco Bay and outside ports from Los Angeles to Seattle. Economists estimated the impact at $1 billion each day.

Even after trade resumed, retailers – with their just-in-time supply chain – worried that West Coast ports risked becoming a bottleneck. Companies looked to Gulf Coast and East Coast ports, which courted them by upgrading facilities.

“They can’t afford to have their goods hung up either out on the sea or on the docks,” said Jonathan Gold, vice president of supply chain and customs policy at the National Retail Federation.

Between 2002 and last year, the portion of shipping containers that came into the U.S. through West Coast ports dropped from 50 percent to 44 percent, according to a study by Martin Associates, a firm that analyzes transportation systems. Imports to the Gulf of Mexico and the Northeast increased.

Even so, West Coast ports handled cargo worth $892 billion in 2013 alone, according to trade data compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Worries over the current negotiations have prompted some stores to route shipments away from the West Coast, Gold said. Other importers planning for fall and winter shopping have shipped early to beat the contract’s expiration date.

The maritime association warns that labor peace is essential to keeping West Coast ports competitive, especially with an expansion of the Panama Canal that will allow larger vessels to reach East Coast markets directly.

The union is not persuaded, at least not publicly.

“The competitiveness argument is an old saw that gets trotted out every time there’s a negotiation,” said union spokesman Craig Merrilees. “The claim has generally been used in an effort to extract concessions from the union members.”

One area where the Pacific Maritime Association is looking for concessions is benefits. According to the PMA, the cost of benefits more than doubled over the past decade, reaching $93,200 per registered worker in fiscal year 2013.

During these negotiations, a new incentive is in play: In 2018, a 40 percent tax on the value of “Cadillac” health plans above a certain threshold kicks in under the Affordable Care Act – and the union’s coverage qualifies.

Last July, workers and retirees picketed in Long Beach and in Tacoma, Washington, complaining that some families were shouldering tens of thousands of medical bills the health plan was not paying.

Employers said legitimate claims were being paid, but they were scrutinizing tens of millions of dollars of treatments that were likely fraudulent, including phantom appointments and charges for cosmetic surgery.

Other bargaining issues include what jobs will remain under union control, the introduction of technology that could make some jobs obsolete, and on-the-job safety measures.

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