Wednesday, November 11, 2009

OSHA Underground No More

Many visitors here on the ComDust site, have also have visited the OSHA Underground site where a diverse spectrum of health and safety information could be found. Unfortunately the OSHA Underground site was removed a few days ago and visitors will no longer be able to read the helpful information that Kane and contributing authors provided concerning workplace health and safety issues.

As a contributing author, I was much at loss as others into what happened. Especially with all the great content, now vanished at the click of a mouse, that Kane and others provided through comments and posts. To a large extent the ability to write and post content on OSHA Underground as a contributing author enabled me to continue successfully in my combustible dust research project. On many a occasions, Kane and numerous visitors on the site always provided welcome encouragement to continue, which provided the much needed extra boost following hundreds of hours of researching combustible dust incidents.

Recently Abel, the owner of OSHA Aboveground site, obtained an e-mail from Google, the owners of Blogger. I'd like to share with others the content of the email:

Hello,
Google has received a subpoena for information related to anonymous comments posted on your blog. The case is entitled Secretary of Labor v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., United States Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, Case number SDT-9-0181.

To comply with the law, unless you or an anonymous commenter provide us with a copy of a motion to quash the subpoena (or other formal objection filed in court) via email at legal-support@google.com by 5pm Pacific Time on November 26, 2009, Google will assume you do not have an objection to production of the requested information and may provide responsive documents on this date.

For more information about the subpoena, you may wish to contact the party seeking this information at:

Michael D. Billok
Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP
1050 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 300
Washington, DC 20036
(202)887-3500

So that's it. I called Mr. Billok, the attorney representing Wal-Mart and he could not legally provide any additional information that wasn't already in the above letter. It appears that the OSHA Underground site was voluntarily removed by Kane, the owner of the site.

This is a bittersweet ending to the recent award that LexisNexis bestowed on the OSHA Underground as one of the Top 25 Blogs for 2009. I was honored to be one of the four contributing authors in addition to Kane that wrote on subjects concerning workplace issues, which potentially had an impact amongst the readers.

Since the site is down and I can't express my feelings there, so here on the ComDust site I'd like to extend my sincere thanks to all the OSHA Underground readers for your support with your diverse comments that made the site so special as a unique outlet in discussing workplace health and safety issues. Like a friend that you grew up together with in the old neighborhood, all that is left is good memories from those days gone by.

Alternative: Facility Licensing that Generate Combustible Dust

I'd like to share this post that was authored by Timothy Anderson, Owner, Allfeed Process and Packaging Inc in the ComDust discussion group.

Information is powerful and it’s easy to become complacent when life experiences do not match the statistics. For instance, when you operate fork trucks for 30 years and never heard of an LPS classification of forklift or understood that there are also additional classes of electric fork trucks, then its easy to stop looking or stop asking questions to answers you didn't knew exist. Additionally, when the OEM (original equipment manufacturer), does not enlighten you or when OSHA inspectors visit your facility, when you have two, then three, then four trucks, and says nothing until you have ten forklifts then fines you $60,000 dollars, you then immediately realize you can not count on them (and shouldn't) for the answers.

Having farmed for some years (late 70’s to mid 80’s) it was common a few times each day to open the engine compartment to put out the embers from soybean or corn dust that accumulated on the engine and were smoldering. We never looked to see if there were any, there always were, we were just hunting them down.

In the grain elevator business, running corn dryers, we did fire watches each hour. Again not to look to see if there were hot spots but to find the ones that were always there. So in the feed business, when we get done running our LP or diesel equipment, we simply blew down the motors and put out any embers that might be there, and sometimes there are.

This is how it has been done for a long time. I agree with the changes that are coming down the pike but don’t agree with how they are coming down. Licensing is the real answer. Upgrade the test annually so changes are small. These pendulum swings from no knowledge to no tolerance is bad business.

Posted by Timothy Anderson

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