As Legal Insurrection readers may recall, I am an environmental health and safety professional.
I am attending a conference this weekend in Salt Lake City, endeavoring to learn about the rules regarding a compliance document required for each and every chemical containing substance an employee may use called a Safety Data Sheet. Many of you may have seen them for paints, cleaning agents, research compounds, or other substances you use in the normal course of work.
Back in 2012, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration changed the requirements of them, with the promise that these documents would be “easier for employees to understand” and “be harmonized to be useful globally”. Needless to say, these new rules have made the preparation of these documents far more complex, many countries are applying their own versions, and these documents can hardly be considered “more understandable”.
And while this represents an enormous profit opportunity for me, the epidemic of regulations adversely effects everyone—at home, at school, at the office, and on the battlefield.
A chilling development involving live anthrax shipped through the mail is a good example of what happens when the focus on practical safety matters is obscured by other requirements.
A potentially fatal batch of the deadly anthrax virus was sent to Australia in 2008, as part of a US military bungle.
The shipment misstep was revealed as part of a wider look into a military lab in Utah, where samples were supposed to be made inactive by radiation.
Health and military officials started a joint investigation last week after a commercial lab in Maryland, US, found a live sample of anthrax in a delivery from an US site near Salt Lake City, Utah, according to the AFP.
The mistake was acknowledged by the US government on Thursday, when a Pentagon statement said at least 18 government, university and commercial laboratories received live anthrax sample from a batch irradiated and believed to be destroyed in 2014.
There are a myriad of requirements for shipping these samples, and having the packages prepared and handled by trained employees is chief among them. What exactly happened, then?
It looks like the anthrax spores were not “cooked” long enough to deactivate them.
The U.S. military and experts outside the military say it appears that some of the spores lived through the radiation process used to deactivate them. John Peterson, a microbiology professor who works with anthrax at the University of Texas Medical Branch, says the X-rays or gamma rays used to kill anthrax spores might not get every little one.
No worries, however, the live spores were properly packaged!
FedEx ships such agents under the supervision of the U.S. government. “There are very stringent regulations about how you have to package agents,” Berns said. “Now, the ones that were being sent out — yesterday’s incident — should have been less of a problem because they were supposed to be inactive.” But Peterson and other experts say even inactivated spores would have been packed carefully.
This NBC Video sums up the situation.
Five Americans died in the wake of an anthrax attack that was carried out through the mail within a week of the 9-11 attacks. Fortunately, no one has become sick as a result of the recent potential exposure, though dozens are taking prophylactic medication.
While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention figures out that having rules is not the same as having them followed, another agency is making a mockery of genuine worker safety concerns. California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health is poised to regulate the adult film industry:
After five years of public hearings and heated debates, a proposed set of safety standards for all California porn production sets is edging closer to being finalized, but adult film performers say if passed, the new regulations would make sex scenes look like medical dramas.
The 21-page draft, proposed by the state’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health, blends thick regulatory definitions with graphic language as it outlines how adult film performers and others on set can protect themselves from bloodborne pathogens and other bodily fluids. It underscores the use of condoms as a way to protect against HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. It also calls for producers to pay for medical visits and hepatitis B vaccines.
During a hearing and public comment period that ended Thursday in San Diego, adult film performers and their supporters said the regulations — which include wearing protective eye gear — go too far.
I will simply point out that adults in this state have had enough sex education by the age of 18 to ensure a robust understanding of the health hazards they face. Eye protection is not apt to protect them from the risky behaviors they may engage in off the set, either.
These rules will be ignored completely. Alternatively, the industry will relocate. However, our tax dollars and resources have been squandered with no real gain in serious worker safety matters. In fact, it makes a laughing stock of my profession.
Truly, there is an epidemic of regulation-based insanity. I suspect that our bureaucrats and politicians will say that the solution to all this madness is even more rules.DONATE
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