Monday, December 29, 2008

Under Bush, OSHA Mired in Inaction

Why does this not surprise me. From

In early 2001, an epidemiologist at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration sought to publish a special bulletin warning dental technicians that they could be exposed to dangerous beryllium alloys while grinding fillings. Health studies showed that even a single day's exposure at the agency's permitted level could lead to incurable lung disease.

After the bulletin was drafted, political appointees at the agency gave a copy to a lobbying firm hired by the country's principal beryllium manufacturer, according to internal OSHA documents. The epidemiologist, Peter Infante, incorporated what he considered reasonable changes requested by the company and won approval from key directorates, but he bristled when the private firm complained again.

"In my 24 years at the Agency, I have never experienced such indecision and delay," Infante wrote in an e-mail to the agency's director of standards in March 2002. Eventually, top OSHA officials decided, over what Infante described in an e-mail to his boss as opposition from "the entire OSHA staff working on beryllium issues," to publish the bulletin with a footnote challenging a key recommendation the firm opposed.

Current and former career officials at OSHA say that such sagas were a recurrent feature during the Bush administration, as political appointees ordered the withdrawal of dozens of workplace health regulations, slow-rolled others, and altered the reach of its warnings and rules in response to industry pressure.

The result is a legacy of unregulation common to several health-protection agencies under Bush: From 2001 to the end of 2007, OSHA officials issued 86 percent fewer rules or regulations termed economically significant by the Office of Management and Budget than their counterparts did during a similar period in President Bill Clinton's tenure, according to White House lists.

Friday, December 19, 2008

More Bradford County Layoffs

From the Towanda Daily Review:

The economic downturn is affecting the work force at most of the larger manufacturing plants in the Bradford County through temporary furloughs, permanent layoffs or reductions in work hours. Here is how the economy is affecting the work force at some of the larger local businesses:

— In response to reduced demand for its products, the Ingersoll-Rand’s plant in Athens, which employs 253, will temporarily shut down during this holiday season, said Susan Jaramillo, a company spokesman. Specifically, the plant will be shut down from Dec. 19 to Dec. 28, and again from Dec. 31 to Jan. 4, she said.

— The Mill’s Pride plant in Athens Township has in place a number of temporary, voluntary layoffs of its employees, which began Nov. 28 and which will end Jan. 26, said Kathleen Vokes, director of communications for the plant’s parent company, Masco Corp. Attempts to find out from the company how many employees were participating in the voluntary layoff program were unsuccessful. Mill’s Pride produces cabinets for kitchens and other locations in people’s homes, Vokes said.

— At the end of November, Penndu Manufacturing Inc. laid off most of the employees at its plant in Tuscarora Township, reducing the number of employees at the plant from 25 to "about 10," said Dwylan Lefever, general manager of the company. Because business at sawmills has dropped off, "they are not purchasing capital equipment," which has reduced the demand for products made at Penndu, such as saws and conveying equipment, he said. A nationwide slump in manufacturing is also affecting Penndu, because there is not as much demand for wood pallets, he said. Consequently, pallet manufacturers are not buying as much equipment from Penndu, Lefever said.

— A total of 70 employees in two businesses in Troy Township that are owned by the Cummings family — Cummings Lumber and Barefoot Flooring — have been laid off this month as lumber sales slow, company officials said.

— At the CraftMaster Manufacturing plant in Wysox Township, which makes wood products used in home construction and remodeling, there have been temporary reductions in work hours of production workers on certain weeks in recent months, said plant CraftMaster Vice President and mill Manager Bob Andzulis. "It’s not a wholesale cutback" of hours, but does occur from time to time, he said. Also, 46 employees were laid off at the plant in March, and, in addition, a number of employees took offers of early retirement at that time, he said. Andzulis declined to say how many employees took the early retirement offers.

— Almost 200 of the 975 employees at Global Tungsten & Powders Corp. (GTP) in Towanda have elected to take voluntary furloughs, which could last a week or several weeks, company spokesman Craig Rieder said. The furloughs began in November and are scheduled to end at the end of December, he said.

— DuPont Corp. in Towanda is in the process of laying off 42 contract workers at the plant, which will leave 538 employees at the plant, company officials said.

— The newspaper industry also is affected by the downturn in the economy. At The Daily & Sunday Review, for example, a wage freeze and a hiring freeze have been imposed.

I think it's going to get worse before it gets better.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Bradford County Employers Laying Off Workers

In today's Towanda Daily Review, there are two articles about local employers laying off workers. Because of this, I wanted to again stress my last blog post: "What do I do when I'm working light duty but laid off?"

As detailed in the Towanda Daily Review, employees from the former Osram Sylvania, now Global Tungsten & Powders Corp. (GTP), were offered a voluntary layoff. See the article here.

Also in the same edition of the paper, two Troy, Pennsylvania companies owned by the Cummings Family, have laid off workers. 22 employees from Cummings Lumber and 48 employees from Barefoot Flooring have been laid off. See the article here.

As stressed in my last post, if you're working a light duty job due to a work related injury and you're laid off, you should contact an experienced workers' compensation attorney immediately. At that point, your total disability wage benefits should be reinstated immediately upon lay off.