Thursday, January 05, 2006

The Sago Mine disaster: A study in Republican indifference!

Tonight twelve men are dead, and one man may never recover.

Each man shared something in common. Each was a miner. Each was someone’s son…brother…uncle… father…husband…friend. And each gave up his life aware of his dark, cold, damp, lonely earthen tomb, comforted only by a vision of a tomorrow he would never be part of. Each was a preventable death but for Republican indifference.

Mines are regulated by the Republican controlled Department of Labor, Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). Under Republican leadership, MSHA cite the Sago Mine 273 times for safety violations, of which about a third were classified as ‘significant and substantial,’" yet mine regulations were never enforced in a meaningful way. The more serious allegations resulted in proposed penalties of $250 each.

Tony Oppegard, a former MSHA senior adviser, said in the last eight months over a dozen violations were “serious safety infractions for which the [owner of the mine] had either already been warned, or which showed ‘indifference or extreme lack of care.’”

I know…I know…things happen, right? It was just their time to go, right? Or, was it the result of indifference?

In 2003, 4.3 million workers were injured and 5,559 workers were killed do to job hazards…[and] 6000 died to occupational disease.”

In response, the Republican controlled congress and the Bush administration slashed the job safety budget, tried to dismantle worker safety and health training programs, shut down all new workplace safety and health rules, favored employer voluntary programs over enforcement and excluded workers and unions, and killed workplace ergonomic protection.


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