Casey calls for scrutiny of temp-worker fatalities

Posted: July 13, 2014

U.S. Sen. Robert P. Casey called Friday for more scrutiny of temporary worker fatalities, citing a man's death at a Bucks County sugar plant last year.

The Pennsylvania Democrat pressed the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration to investigate the prevalence of such deaths and offer guidance to lawmakers.

Casey also pushed for the Protecting America's Workers Act, a perennial bill that would increase penalties for employers who fail to follow safety laws.

Casey's call was described by an attorney for employers as "saber rattling" because OSHA efforts are underway.

Last year, Janio Salinas, 50, suffocated in a vat of sugar at the CSC facility in Fairless Hills after trying to remove clumps from a malfunctioning hopper.

OSHA cited CSC for failing to install safety guards and removing a hopper screen that slowed production but would have prevented the death, among other violations. CSC did not respond to e-mails and a phone call for comment.

Casey's call for action followed a joint investigation into temporary worker deaths by the TV network Univision and news website ProPublica.

OSHA launched its Temporary Worker Initiative last year to collect data on deaths and to increase education among temp firms and employers.

Eric Conn, chair of the OSHA practice group at the firm Epstein, Becker & Green in Washington, said, "I'm not sure OSHA needs saber rattling from lawmakers, because they're already focusing a lot of resources on this issue. Rather than increase penalties, they need to educate smaller employers and provide them with resources to improve safety."


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