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Industrial Safety

US Chemical Safety Board rethinking decision to omit names of workers killed in accidents from its reports

Unions, health experts, and family counselors emphasize importance of naming those fatally injured on the job

by Jeff Johnson, special to C&EN
July 1, 2019 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 97, ISSUE 27

Following criticism from its usual allies, the US Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board will reconsider a controversial decision not to include the names of workers killed at industrial accidents in its reports.

The decision was challenged by members of the public, unions representing workers, organizations counseling family members, health experts, and others at the board’s June 26 meeting. They spoke of the importance to families of having the names of loved ones killed on the job made public and included in CSB’s accident reports.

Citing a statistic or simply calling the deceased a worker creates numbness, several family counselors said. A name, in contrast, conveys that a person died.

Several said no family member had ever objected to the practice. Instead they had thanked CSB for naming the dead.

In a statement, the board said it had previously included names in reports out of respect and in remembrance. But it decided listing names was inconsistent with an objective root-cause accident analysis and could “infer culpability” on the entity operating the facility. In its last two reports,CSB did not name the nine workers who collectively died in the incidents.

Acting CSB chair Kristen Kulinowski says the board would further examine this issue.

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