Today in Labor History

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Archive for the tag “occupational safety and health”

February 7, 2008

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A huge explosion and fire at the Imperial Sugar refinery northwest of Savannah, Georgia, kills 14 and injures 38 people. The explosion was fueled by massive accumulations of combustible sugar dust throughout the packaging building. An investigation by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board stated that the explosion had been “entirely preventable,” noting that the sugar industry had been aware of the risk of dust explosions since 1926.

January 14, 1993

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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issues a Permit-Required Confined Spaces Standard to prevent more than fifty deaths and 5,000 serious injuries annually for workers whose job requires them to work in confined spaces, such as underground vaults, tanks, storage bins, manholes, pits, silos, process vessels, and pipelines.

January 5, 1933

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Construction officially began on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Safety netting suspended under the floor of the bridge from end to end saved the lives of nineteen workers; however, ten of the eleven deaths on the job occurred when a section of scaffold fell through the net. The bridge opened in 1937 and was, until 1964, the longest suspension bridge main span in the world.

November 26, 1910

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Four months before the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, a sweatshop in Newark, New Jersey, catches fire, killing more than two dozen women and girls. The fire made national news and more than 100,000 people flocked to the scene the next day. A coroner’s jury a month later deemed the fire the result of human error: “They died from misadventure and accident.”

July 6, 1988

Hazlehead-Park-33Explosions and the resulting fire on the Piper Alpha offshore oil drilling platform in the North Sea kill 165 oil workers and two crewmen of a rescue vessel. An inquiry found the operator, Occidental, guilty of having inadequate maintenance and safety procedures, but no criminal charges were ever brought against the company.

June 23, 1978

June 23The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issues a cotton dust standard to protect 600,000 workers from byssinosis, also known as “brown lung.”

April 16, 1947

1947 TEXAS CITY DISASTER EXACT DATE UNKNOWN.2,300 tons of ammonium nitrate on board a ship docked in the port of Texas City detonate, setting off a chain reaction of explosions and fires on other ships and nearby oil storage facilities. At least 581 people were killed and thousands more were seriously injured in the deadliest industrial disaster in U.S. history. As a result, changes in chemical manufacturing and new regulations for the bagging, handling, and shipping of chemicals were enacted.

March 31, 2004

Westray-Mine-Memorial-pictureCanada Bill C-45 goes into force, amending the Criminal Code to impose penalties on corporations, managers, and executives for violations causing workplace injuries and deaths. The Westray Bill, as it is known, was named after a methane explosion in the Westray coal mine near Plymouth, Nova Scotia, which killed all 26 miners working there at the time.

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