Many previous posts in this blog have discussed employers' responsibility
to take whatever steps are reasonably necessary to keep their employees
safe from workplace injuries. No matter whether an employer takes the
necessary steps or not to keep their employees safe, once an employee
suffers from a workplace injury they are entitled to
workers' compensation. However, it appears that this standard may not apply to all industries.
Readers in Pennsylvania may be interested in a recent article about the
fracking industry seemingly showing that employers, OSHA and even the
government have a more secretive and hands-off approach when it comes
to informing consumers and employees of the dangers related to fracking.
Because workers' compensation does not rely on whether employers take
steps to keep employees safe, some may argue that as long as those employed
in fracking still get their workers' compensation benefits, the secrecy
around the dangers is not a big deal. However, the nature of the occupational
diseases is so severe that it is shocking there is not more being done
to prevent the onset of these illnesses.
The biggest concern raised for those in the fracking industry is cancer.
According to the industry, the three carcinogens that most commonly occur
are formaldehyde, naphthalene and benzyl chloride. But, no one truly knows
what chemicals or how much are used in fracking practices. The industry
does whatever is necessary to keep certain aspects of the process a secret.
As if this is not scary enough, the industry has actually successfully
lobbied to prevent medical doctors from discussing the connection between
the chemicals used in fracking and the illnesses they may be causing.
Pennsylvania doctors are forbidden from warning the community of the connection.
Although OSHA released a hazard alert in mid-2012 about the dangers involved
in the industry, there were no requirements set forth for change. The
agency simply suggested minimizing the use of harmful chemicals if possible.
This is a scary situation that could leave numerous individuals very sick.
With the prevalence of cancer in today's society it almost shocks
the conscience that this is an acceptable business practice.
However, no matter what the nature of the employer's involvement in
preventing harmful situations for their employees, all injured workers
should take the steps necessary to obtain the workers' compensation
benefits to which they are entitled.
Source: Planetsave, "Fracking In The Age Of Cancer," March 4, 2013