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National COSH Calls for Reports to Include Names of Fatally Injured Workers

July 2, 2019
The Chemical Safety Board recently changed its policy about including workers killed on the job in its investigative reports.

Occupational safety and health experts are urging the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigations Board(CSB) to reveal the names of workers who were fatally injured in its reports.

The CSB, an independent federal agency, changed its policy of including workers' names with the June 12 report about a January 2018 fatal gas well blowout at a Pryor Trust gas well Oklahoma. The incident claimed the lives of Josh Ray, Mike Smith, Cody Risk, Parker Waldridge, and Roger Cunningham.

The names of workers who lose their lives on the job is “simple factual information that should be included” when reporting on chemical spills, explosions and other tragic events, said Peter Dooley, safety and health project consultant for National COSH. 

Dooley was one of numerous advocates who testified in person and via telephone at a CSB public meeting on June 25.

During the session, the CSB released its final report on a November 2014 release of the chemical ethyl mercaptan at a DuPont Plant in La Porte, Texas. Four workers died in that incident, but their names were omitted.

The 2014 release of ethyl mercaptan at DuPont’s LaPorte plant killed Crystle Rae Wise, Wade Baker and brothers Gilbert and Robert Tisnado.

During public comments at the CSB meeting, several speakers urged the agency to reconsider its policy. No member of the public spoke in favor of continuing to exclude the names of deceased workers. Including worker’s names, said Dooley, is “an extremely important piece of information that makes the report much more relatable to its audience, which is workers of all types.”

CSB Interim Executive Kristen Kulinowski then acknowledged “a lot of passion around this subject.” She recommended the agency's general councel review the policy of including names on its investigative reports.

According to National COSH, speakers also praised the agency for the quality and impact of its investigative reports, which include recommendations on how to avoid future tragedies.

“That one day, that one incident to us, it’s forever. And we’re trying to turn that forever into something positive," Tonya Ford, executive director of United Support and Memorial for Workplace Fatalities (USMWF) told the CSB. "Your report truly makes a difference and it can be that tool for prevention.”

She continued, "As many years as I’ve been doing this, I have never had a family member come up to me asking that we don’t mention their son, daughter, brother in any report or any article or anything. I’ve always heard, please share, please tell his or her name. We urge you and ask you please remember them. Share their names and let us not forget them.”

National COSH provided the information for this article. EHS Today contacted the Chemical Safety Board for additional comments but did not receive a response.

About the Author

Stefanie Valentic

Stefanie Valentic was formerly managing editor of EHS Today, and is currently editorial director of Waste360.

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