Families in Chile are celebrating after it was discovered that 33 miners trapped in Chile are still alive after two and a half weeks of being trapped. The New York Times reports that a video camera plunged into the depths of the mine showed all of the men alive. Rescuing them and digging a shaft may take up to four months.
The good news is that a narrow shaft can be used to lower food, water, and medicine to the men while they await rescue. The miners are trapped about 2,000 feet beneath the surface, and should be rescued by Christmas.
Industrial Accidents in Springfield, Missouri
Springfield, Missouri, luckily has a varied economy with industry, health care and tourism being high on the lists. Unfortunately there are occasional accidents that are deadly and completely preventable. The case of Toby Hall in October of 2009 is a case in point that industrial accidents can happen anywhere, not just in large mines.
AC Buckhorn makes plastic objects from molds such as pallets, containers, trash cans, bins, and just about anything heavy duty made of colored plastic. Heated plastic forms into molds that are quickly cooled to form whatever shape is needed.
Toby Hall was crushed to death in an accident that should never have happened, according to a former employee interviewed by local news station KYTV. The equipment should have been “locked out” while maintenance was performed. When a large piece of equipment is locked out, that means that the power should be off and no one should be allowed to reactivate it until the lock is removed.
Buckhorn was fined $116,000 after OSHA investigated the accident. In April of 2010, Buckhorn stated that they are appealing the OSHA fine. The family’s attorney says that Hall’s widow is disappointed in the company’s decision.
Another source that deals with workplace injury law has stated that one worker thought Hall was out of the machinery so he reactivated it. Hall was repairing a mold at a plant that had been cited for many serious violations by OSHA and fined before this tragic accident, according to IMPO.
What amazes me about both the Chilean mining accident and the death at Buckhorn is that I would expect deaths to happen in less-industrialized nations such as Chile, and fewer accidents to happen in the United States. In these instances, it seems the reverse is true. A company that had been cited for many safety violations may have been responsible for a worker’s death in America. However, in earthquake-prone Chile, there are 33 miners alive after what could have been a fatal accident.
I am in awe wondering that Americans have been so desperate for jobs that we are willing to die for them. There are many unsafe jobs in the United States, and yet somehow we are accepting these standards until someone really does die from them. Even after the deaths, much like the mining disaster in West Virginia earlier this year, there is the usual outcry and grief, but the industry may not change until mandated to do so by Congress. Congressional change may not happen right away, if at all.
How many deaths will it take before real change happens in this country? As long as industry makes money, they may or may not have the workers’ best interests in mind, as opposed to turning a profit.
The New York Times, KYTV, and IMPO provided information for this article, as well as Buckhorn’s official website.