A fertilizer plant exploded in West Texas. Lots of news coverage followed. Yet, media have largely failed to report on the plant’s very serious safety violations.
Today, in Clackamas County, Oregon, a meat-processing plant is being investigated for a brutal death that occurred there last week (see the news coverage here, but be warned – it’s hard to read). It will be interesting to see what the OSHA investigation reveals, but a death like this does not occur in a safe workplace.
This Portland worker’s death doesn’t have the same scale as the incidents above, but just as tragic for the deceased and his family. His death underscores the importance of government regulation and the efforts of labor organizations to keep fighting for workplace safety.
Over the weekend, AFL-CIO observed its annual Workers Memorial Day remembering those who have been seriously injured or died on the job. Next year, the observance will include the Oregon man who died on the job, along with a dozen first responders who died in Texas, and many thousands more whose deaths might never be publicized but are no less tragic – and no less preventable.
Regulations don’t kill business. A lack of regulations kills workers. When businesses try to justify outsourcing labor jobs because production in the U.S. is more regulated and more expensive, remember that is only true when profits become more important to businesses than the people who produce their products.
For further reading check out the AFL-CIO’s annual report DEATH ON THE JOB: The Toll of Neglect.