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September 2011 Archives

Born Through Tragedy: The Cherry Mine Disaster and Workers' Compensation

In the early part of the 20th century, the second industrial revolution in the United States was in full swing. Between 1870 and 1915, the U.S. economy and population experienced one of its greatest periods of growth and change, with industries like railroads, oil, steel and coal enjoying unprecedented expansion and demand. However, this era was also punctuated by numerous industrial tragedies as a result of little to no public and worker safety regulations or oversight. Those injured or killed in these events often had little recourse or justice available to them. However, some tragedies were too devastating to ignore. And it was one such event that ultimately led to sweeping changes in labor and compensation laws – the Cherry Mine disaster.

Concussion Legislation Could Save Lives

Recent high-profile reports on the danger of concussions have lead many lawmakers nationwide to enact safety standards for youth sports. Sadly, these standards come too late for athletes like high school football players Jacob Snakenberg and Matthew Gfeller who each died from second-impact syndrome, a traumatic injury that occurs when a second concussion occurs before a previous concussion has healed. Tragedies like these have brought together diverse organizations like professional athletic leagues, medical associations and family advocacy groups to support state legislation mandating better education and protocols on the handling of concussions.

Outdoor Worker Safety: The Heat Is On

There’s an old saying that goes, “If you don’t like the weather, wait around a few minutes.” And lately this seems even truer, with 2011 bringing everything from stronger-than-normal weather events to the downright strange. This summer in the United States, a massive heat wave, alternately referred to as a “hot dome” or “pressure-cooker”, blasted even typically cooler areas like Chicago and Fargo. With these areas unprepared for such temperature extremes, numerous heat-related deaths and injuries have occurred. Particularly at risk during these high-heat weather conditions are workers whose jobs take them outdoors.

Recent Disasters Offer Reminder to Plan Ahead

Many on the East Coast of the United States were recently reminded how unprepared they were for Mother Nature’s whims. An unprecedented earthquake that rattled buildings and people from the Deep South to Canada was swiftly followed by Hurricane Irene which swept up the Atlantic coast from the Bahamas. While somewhat familiar with hurricanes, Easterner’s certainly could not have predicted an earthquake for the area. And lately, many areas of the U.S. have seen such unusual events, from deadly outbreak of multi-state tornadoes to devastating wildfires in drought-stricken areas. Such events remind us that not only are we not immune from nature’s wrath, but that planning now for even unlikely disasters can save lives and property.

New E. Coli Strain Among Deadliest

This spring, the European Union saw one of the deadliest outbreaks of food poisoning ever recorded. The culprit, a new strain of E. coli, confounded doctors and investigators with its surprising virulence and resistance to antibiotics. Even months later, its affects are still being tabulated, with the World Health Organization to date citing over 50 fatalities and over 4,000 sickened. The food-borne illness largely struck residents of Germany, but its victims include citizens from fourteen other countries in the EU, Canada and the United States. Most recently, the death of a 65-year old man resident of Arizona was confirmed as being the first American fatality as a result of the outbreak.

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