NEWS BRIEFS

OIG Report on Crandall Canyon

In a report examining the roof control plan for Crandall Canyon Mine, where six miners and three rescuers perished in August 2007, the Department of Labor's Office of Inspector General (OIG) concluded that MSHA was negligent in protecting the safety of miners.

MSHA approved a roof control plan, five revisions and 11 site-specific amendments in the 5 years leading up to the Aug. 6 incident. The OIG report assessed MSHA's development procedures and suggested the agency failed to protect miners by exercising little or no oversight.

“MSHA could not show that it did everything appropriate to ensure the Crandall Canyon roof control plan was sufficient to protect miners,” the report read. “MSHA did not have a rigorous, transparent review and approval process for roof control plans consisting of explicit criteria and plan evaluation factors, appropriate documentation and active oversight and supervision by headquarters and District 9 management.”

ASARCO, EPA Reach Agreement

ASARCO reached an agreement with EPA to spend up to $13.5 million in cleanup efforts to remove arsenic, lead and copper soil contamination in two of its Arizona locations.

As part of the agreement, ASARCO will pay to clean up the sites and complete a remedial investigation/feasibility study to identify cleanup techniques and determine the full extent of soil contamination. The agreement also requires ASARCO to conduct additional cleanups, as necessary, to ensure full and final completion of the work.

EPA will oversee ASARCO's operations to ensure compliance with the agreement, which also requires ASARCO to reimburse the expenses related to the oversight.

Obesity Costly for Employers

A new report from the Conference Board shows that obesity costs U.S. private employers a pretty penny — about $45 billion a year in medical expenses and work loss.

The nation's obesity rate has doubled in the last 30 years, with 34 percent of adult Americans currently fitting the definition of “obese.” Those extra pounds weigh heavily on companies' bottom lines, consuming 5 to 7 percent of the national health care budget and contributing to a 36 percent increase in health care spending, the report said.

Many employers already are at work to combat obesity. More than 40 percent of companies have implemented obesity-reduction programs, and 24 percent said they plan to add such programs in 2008. Obesity-reduction programs can yield a return on investment ranging from zero to as much as $5 for each $1 invested, according to the report.

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