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Well, doesn’t this just make you feel comfortable about the safety of our workplaces and our communities:

A Dallas Morning News analysis of more than 750,000 federal records found pervasive inaccuracies and holes in data on chemical accidents, such as the one in West that killed 15 people and injured more than 300.

In fact, no one at any level of government knows how often serious chemical accidents occur each year in the United States. And there is no plan in place for federal agencies to gather more accurate information.

As a result, the kind of data sharing ordered by President Barack Obama in response to West is unlikely to improve the government’s ability to answer even the most basic questions about chemical safety.

“We can track Gross National Product to the second and third decimal, but there is no reliable way of tracking even simple things like how many [chemical] accidents happen,” said Sam Mannan, a nationally recognized expert on chemical safety who recently testified before a congressional hearing on West.

Let’s be clear, this is intentional. Corporations don’t want you to know where things are produced or under what conditions. Business has ensured that the relevant government agencies that could effectively track this information remain chronically underfunded. We can blame government and there’s no question that it isn’t enough of a priority for either political party. But one party is opposed to the sheer existence of these agencies and that makes it awfully hard to craft an effective regulatory system.

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  • BobS

    The lack of adequate regulation also includes the daily poisoning of the land and population that is just business as usual for industry and agriculture. While I’m against us killing more Syrians to punish Assad for the chemical weapons he may or may not be responsible for using in the course of their civil war and that represent no danger to Americans, I could get on board with Obama ordering hits on frakking sites in the US.

  • James E. Powell

    The employers would not be able to pull this off without support from the employees. I don’t know what it is, but there is something in the culture, something that readily accepts employers’ arguments that safety regulations are unduly burdensome.

    One would think that a safe workplace would be something we would all want for everybody.

    • It’s the fear of losing your job. What’s getting in the way of a meaningful regulatory system is not employees.

      • DrDick

        This. Management terrorizes the workers into complicity, but It is corporate cash that makes this work and drives the legislative process.

      • James E. Powell

        That may be true in the actual workplace, but I’m referring to the total lack of any voter-driven pressure for workplace safety.

        It’s a bit like the mass shootings and the environmental disasters. We have an event. There is a general recognition that it was avoidable with safety regulations. A few speeches are made. It goes away.

        No candidate I can recall included workplace safety in his or her campaigning. I assume that’s because their research shows that it doesn’t move voters, i.e., no one really cares.

        • witless chum

          It might or might not move voters, but it absolutely would move donors to your opponent.

        • DrDick

          Most people do not even know about these kinds of problems (something which the industries involved actively work to maintain), which is why voters “do not care.”

    • BigHank53

      One would think that a safe workplace would be something we would all want for everybody.

      That costs money. Money that would otherwise be on its way to a home in the Owners’ pocket.

  • Pingback: Because you looked too damn secure for my taste, chemical explosions edition | Blog on the Run: Reloaded()

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