House passes Combustible Dust protections

With work from the labor federations, bloggers and the unfortunate accident at the Imperial Sugar facility, The US House has passed the Worker Protection Against Combustible Dust Explosion and Fire Act, H.R. 5522 by a vote of 247-165. 165 Republicans voted against American workers.

According to The Gavel ( 4/30/08) :

This bill would require the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue rules regulating combustible industrial dusts, like sugar dust, that can build up to hazardous levels and explode. In early February the Imperial Sugar refinery in Port Wentworth, Georgia, exploded, killing 13 workers and severely injuring many more. OSHA and the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, which have launched a major investigation into the Imperial Sugar explosion, have concluded that the explosion was caused by combustible sugar dust. In 2006, following a series of fatal combustible dust explosions, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board conducted a major study of combustible dust hazards. It identified 281 combustible dust incidents between 1980 and 2005 that killed 119 workers, injured 718 others, and extensively damaged industrial facilities. OSHA has known about these dangers for years, but has failed to act. Even after the Chemical Safety Board urged OSHA in 2006 to issue rules controlling dust hazards, OSHA has never offered any indication that it is planning to issue such rules without being required to do so by law.

Learn more in our current legislation section >>

The Education and Labor Committee held a hearing on March 12 with testimony from Tammy Miser, sister of a victim of a 2003 combustible dust explosion in Huntington, IN:

Tammy Miser: “Shawn’s back was towards the furnace when they were picking up their tools and there was a blast. Some say Shawn got up and started walking towards the door and then there was a second, more intense blast. Shawn didn’t die instantly. He laid on building floor while the aluminum dust burnt through his flesh and muscle tissue. The breaths that he took burnt his internal organs, and the blast took his eyesight. Shawn was still conscious and asking for help… And the two things that I can always remember and that never leave are his last words, ‘I’m in a world of hurt,’ and his last breaths.”
Thank you Tammy, for your hard work to memorialize workers who die on the job. I watched with great adoration your courage to speak in front of congress on behalf of workers.

Shawn did not die in vain. Through your persistence you have helped to change the world for the next worker, for that we are all grateful.

Thanks to Jesse Lee for posting this at The Gavel
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To read more about Tammy Miser and her contributions, as well as those of Rep. George Miller, please take a look at the article "Our Memorial Day" by Esther Kaplan published this week at the Nation
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