Top Safety Stories of 2010

This was a big year for safety in the news. Between mine disasters, new food safety rules, and widespread recalls, there was no shortage of safety-related headlines. Here’s a rundown of the Top 5 Safety Stories of 2010, in no particular order:

U.S. Food Safety Modernization

As a usually unproductive lame-duck session of U.S. Congress came to a close with an unusually productive string of new legislation. Chief among U.S. lawmakers’ achievements was the passing of the Food Safety Modernization Act, a bill that will give the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the power to increase the frequency of inspections, target high-risk sites, recall tainted foods, boost oversight of farms, better trace food-borne illnesses to their source, and more. The bill marks the first significant changes to food safety in the U.S. in nearly 75 years.

Mine Disasters and Chilean Mine Rescue

The Upper Big Branch Mine disaster in April results in the death of 29 miners after an explosion at the West Virginia coal mine. The accident was the worst mining tragedy in the U.S. in four decades. In the aftermath of the disaster, Democrats reveal the framework of a new bill to tighten mine safety and increase penalties for mines with a record of repeated safety violations.

Also, in addition to tragic mine disasters in New Zealand, China and other parts of the world, an early-August collapse of the San José copper-gold mine near Copiapó, Chile leaves 33 miners trapped 700 feet underground for 69 days, before all were successfully rescued in that captivated the world. The accident prompts the Chilean government to initiate a major overhaul of the country’s mining agency.

Tainted Eggs and Other Recalls

More than 1,000 Americans fall ill as a result of salmonella-contaminated eggs produced by two Iowa farms. The outbreak results in the recall of 380 million eggs. In addition to another recall of nearly 300,000 eggs in November, other large recalls tackle E.coli in hamburger patties and cookie dough, salmonella in peanut butter and ground beef, and mouldy, musty painkillers and cold medications.

Alberta Safety Crackdown

The provincial government of Alberta, Canada announces a series of safety initiatives designed to help the province shed its reputation for lax safety enforcement and position it as a continental leader in safety performance. Initiatives in the 10-point plan include measures for all companies to post mandatory safety records online, updated compliance and enforcement procedures, and weekend and evening worksite inspections.

Charges in Toronto Christmas Eve Scaffolding Deaths

Toronto police arrest three men in connection with the tragic 2009 Christmas Eve deaths of three construction workers who were undergoing repair and restoration work on a swing stage at the 13th floor of a residential building in the city when the platform broke in two and four of the men plummeted to their deaths while another suffered life-threatening injuries. The men charged are high-ranking members of the company at the centre of the accident and, if proven guilty, could face life in prison for criminal negligence.

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