Worker health and safety is a serious issue

Is the deck stacked against workers in hazardous industries?

Quite so, according to senior reporter Jim Morris, who explained the dilemma in a lecture before he received the Upton Sinclair Memorial Award for Outstanding EHS Investigative Reporting.

“In my reporting over the years, I’ve sometimes detected an odd bias [in the media] against those who work in the oil and gas fields, refineries, commercial fishing, and similar dangerous occupations,” he said.

“It’s as if it is tragic but hardly shocking when workers in these industries die. ‘They knew what they were getting into, didn’t they?’ It’s a stunning bias and lack of compassion.”

Morris has written about the dangers of working in certain industries, including lung disease, cancer in the PVC industry, manganese risks from welding fumes and the marketing of the asbestos trade in the developing world.

His stories focused on individual experiences and put it into perspective with the help of statistics, documents, data and quotes.

Closing his lecture, titled “‘Why Should I Care?’ Humanizing Worker Safety in the Media,” Morris said industrial hygiene professionals have a role in media coverage that can positively influence worker safety and health.

“Journalists usually don’t know about the emerging threats,” he told the audience of about 250 attendees. “I and other journalists rely on information from people like you for the story. It can have a powerful impact.”

Source: OHS Online

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