United States. Congress. Senate. Committee on Labo.

OSHA reform : coverage and enforcement : hearing before the Subcommittee on Labor of the Committee on Labor and Human Resources, United States Senate, One Hundred Third Congress, first session, on examining the scope of coverage and enforcement of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration of online

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Online LibraryUnited States. Congress. Senate. Committee on LaboOSHA reform : coverage and enforcement : hearing before the Subcommittee on Labor of the Committee on Labor and Human Resources, United States Senate, One Hundred Third Congress, first session, on examining the scope of coverage and enforcement of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration of → online text (page 6 of 17)
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Federal facilities, OSHA should also be empowered to do the following to super-
visors and installation/activities commanders:

A) personal fines

B) imprisonment for criminal behavior

C) lose their jobs,

D) all the above

OSHA should also be authorized to act against violators immediately, regardless
of where the complaint came from and about whom it is (i.e. federal employee, pri-
vate contractor, federal agency). Safety has no boundaries and injury/death does not
care where the fault lies. I urge you to make OSHA a force which can do its job,
and protect federal workers. The name OSHA should bring fear to federal installa-
tions. Please protect us from harm and/or death. Thank you.



35

Prepaed Statement of Praup J. Hopp

Mr. Chairman and niembers of the subcommittee, my name is Philip J. Hopp. I
am a retired 51-year-old New York City firefighter who works at West Point as a
Boiler Equipment Mechanic. I am married ad nave a daughter 23 years old and a
son 25 years old.

I have been working at West Point since 1980. In 1980 I started work for a con-
tractor who runs the motor pool. I was involved in union activities and laid off in
1983. I then went to work for Civil Service at West Point running an offset press,
delivering mail in the academic department of engineering. About 1985, the layolT
for the contractor was declared illegal, so I returned to work in the motor pool. I
became more involved in union activities and started turning in safety violations to
OSHA. I was then offered a job as Boiler Equipment Mecnanic in 1986-87 with
West Point in Civil Service ana I took it.

There was a reorganization in 1987 of the workforce and my shop was split up.
I then became a Heating Equipment Mechanic in family housing maintenance. Ap-
proximately 1988 - 89 I became work leader and joined AFGE Local 2367 and be-
came Health and Safety Representative. My experience in this field as a NYC fire-
fighter doing fire inspections, courses in safety and health committees, and hazard
communications standard, NY State and EPA certification as an asbestos handler,
asbestos inspector and asbestos management planner, were soon to be my creden-
tials for this position in the union. As Health and Safety Representative, I was in-
volved in the tail end of the 1988 OSHA inspection of West Point. I recall
receivingT^ailure to Abate Notices" from OSHA and was to follow up on these, to
find out their status, and let OSHA know where West Point was in its efforts to
correct the violations. A lot of the "Failure to Abate" violations were not being taken
care of and OSHA was upset. Some examples of problems were ladders not naving
been made correctly, chlorine problems, etc.

In 1989, the union was notified by our national office in Washington, DC that we
were not doing anything about the existing OSHA violations and the "Failure to
Abate." I called Ed Jerome at the Albany Office of OSHA and asked what we could
do? (I mean if OSHA could not do anything, what could we do?) He suggested we
come up to Albany for a meeting. Both Brian Bauer (then President) and I had a
meeting with the head of civilian personnel and the Garrison Commander. They
questioned us on why OSHA wanted to meet with us. We told them we had no idea,
but requested administrative leave in order to go. We were granted leave.

At the meeting with OSHA, Joim Tomich and Ed Jerome suggested that the union
put some articles in the newspaper to try to force West Point to correct the OSHA
violations. (OSHA had already spoken with the press about the 1988 inspection and
its deadlines.)

The Union then followed up with other articles to try to achieve a compliance
from West Point.

One of the first articles to appear in the Times Herald Record had to do with toxic
exposures (i.e. asbestos, PCB's, etc.). There was a problem of PCB laden oil in the
HVAC ducts.The problem existed for approximately 13 months. Neither manage-
ment nor the safety office made any attempt to get rid of the PCB laden oil, and
workers had been working in and around it, getting oil on their clothing. I notified
the newspaper. An article was written, and within three weeks the PCB laden oil
was gone. AU this after workers were exposed to it for 13 weeks. At the same time,
OSHA was notified and citations were issued.

Another incident occurred with the transite board, which contained asbestos. The
employees' supervisor ordered his men to remove the transite board by breaking it
up and putting it into dumpsters. I called OSHA, filed a complaint, went to the loca-
tion where the incident occurred, and took pictures. When OSHA came, I had the
pictures and the employees' story, and a violation citation was issued.

I was also involved in working with the white lung association of New Jersey in
my endeavors with asbestos at West Point. For some of the actions I took and the
situations I went through, I received a Meritorious Service Award which stated "for
extraordinary contributions in protecting the public health against exposure to as-
bestos, and in preventing the creation of a new generation of asbestos victims."

During my course as Health and Safety Representative, I was constantly "coun-
seled" by management about my activities and my time spent on health and safety.
I was warned by my supervisor to make sure that I keep track of my time while
I was on Union business.

I was called to other meetings where I was questioned about my activities in the
Union, qualification of Health and Safety Representative, why I went to OSHA, and
why I put articles in the newspaper.



36

I seemed to be working under noore stress, as I tackled new problems in health
and safety. My stomach started bothering me. I was tired. I kept this up for the
next few years until approximately 1992 when I couldn't take any more and finally
left the Union. I now Know I have a hiatal hernia with ulcers. I don't know if the
stress I was facing contributed to my health problems but it didn't help.

Some of the outcomes of the OSHA violations (which are still occurring), are two
deaths that could be attributed to asbestos exposures at West Point. One worker
died of mesothelioma, the other, Jerry Downey, Sr., died of mesothelioma of the res-
piratory tract. His widow is now pursuing a lawsuit against the manufacturers of
asbestos. West Point is also implicated because of his exposures. (This information
was passed on to me by his son and the family's lawyer.) There have also been many
other "cancer^ deaths and people with cancer at West Point. Whether they can be
attributed to asbestos or chemical exposure, we may never know. There also was
a worker who wound up in the hospital aft^r receiving a shock of 2,0(X) volts.

Although I am no longer the Health and Safety Representative, I was aware of
the 2nd OSHA inspection this year (1993). In fact, I gave some leads to the inspec-
tor. I was also aware of the fact that some violations existed from the first inspec-
tion done in 1988 (fire exits opening in, instead of out, exits not marked, employees
not trained in hazardous material, machinery not guarded, exposed wiring at Cadet
Mess). I was also aware that there were approximately 100 more violations than
there were in the first inspection and that OSHA was barred from the chemical lab
at West Point for the inspection.

The fact that West Point is not fined directly affects the way health ad safety reg-
ulations are followed (after all, if you had an inspection done and violations were
found, would you correct them if there were to be no retributions? I think not.)

A lot of the health and safety problems at West Point are due to poor manage-
ment. Management is more concerned about getting the worii done without regard
for the health and safety of the workers, and it doesn't have enough knowledge or
training in health and safety rules and regulations. I also am sure that if OSHA
had the power to encourage other government agencies to comply by fining, then
the tables would turn, and government agencies would comply.

The fines could be generated by transferring the fine monies from one agency's
budget to the other (i.e. West Point's budget to OSHA's budget) thereby sparing tax-
payers additional costs. The agency that was fined would thereby have to cut some-
thmg out of its budget, and we all know government agencies do not like that. I
further reconmiend that if a violation is severe (i.e. death, terrible accident, because
of a violation) that criminal charges should be filed against responsible agencies.
Possibly criminal charges could also be applied to repeat offenders.

I strongly urge you to encourage legislation that would give OSHA the ability to
fine other government agencies thereby creating a more healthfiil and safe work en-
vironment Tor employees.

Senator Metzenbaum. Mr. Hale, I must recess the hearing brief-
ly in order to vote, and I will come back and hear the other two
witnesses as well. Please bear with me; there is nothing I can do
about it.

[Short recess.]

Senator Metzenbaum. We'll now take the next witness. I am
sorry we had two votes, not one, and now I am going to have to
leave here as soon as all those lights go out. So we will hear from
our next witness now, Deanne Clarke.

And Mr. Hale, the balance of your statement will go in the
record, and I really appreciate it. I apologize to all of you. That is
the U.S. Senate, and there is nothing I can do about it. I ran all
the way down the hall to get back here. So please proceed.

Ms. Clarke. Thank you. I appreciate it.

My name is Deanne Clarke, and I am a flight attendant for a na-
tional airline and a member of the Association of Flight Attend-
ants. On behalf of myself and my flying partners, I am pleased to
speak to you today on why we need OSHA coverage.

It has been over a year since I worked the 45-minute flight from
Anchorage to Fairbanks, during which I and three of my colleagues
experienced severe health problems. Since that time, I have been



37

unable to work and have seen countless doctors. But while it is de-
pressing to be so ill, what has been equally upsetting has been my
company's and the Government's total disinterest concerning my
and others' illnesses.

I know they are aware of the important safety responsibilities
flight attendants have on board an aircraft. Besides routine respon-
sibilities, flight attendants must be mentally and physically pre-
pared at all times to evacuate an aircraft during an emergency and
provide emergency medical assistance to passengers. Our main con-
cern is the passengers' safety. It is critical that we are alert and
healthy.

I am no longer healthy enough to perform my flight attendant re-
sponsibihties. Let me tell you what happened.

Shortly after departure, I began to experience dizziness, nausea,
and my hands started to shake. Fifteen to 20 minutes into the
flight, I had to sit down because my hands were numb; I was hav-
ing difficulty concentrating, and I had excruciating pain in my
head. At the same time, two other flight attendants started feeling
ill. We reported the illnesses to the pilots, and our illnesses were
dismissed without response.

By the end of the flight, I was disoriented, and the waves of nau-
sea and pain to my head worsened. I had tunnel vision, and my
eves felt as if they were being pulled out of their sockets. I had hot
flashes, and the skin on my face felt like I had a horrible sunburn.
I even experienced a burning and tightness in my chest, and my
heart was palpitating.

Upon deplaning, we asked agent and other company personnel
for help, many, many times, without success. I felt as if I was going
under an anesthetic. I heard noises and voices, but could not re-
spond. We continued to try to convince the company that some-
thing was terribly wrong and that we desperately needed help. We
described our symptoms, but nobody showed any interest. In fact,
they wanted us to get back on the plane and continue working the
trip.

Finally, we managed to convince our supervisor that we were ill.
She decided to send us to the hospital by company van. By the time
we reached the hospital, I had muscle weakness, a metallic taste
in my mouth, and extreme pain in my bones and joints, which was
later diagnosed as "the benas."

Finally, now 3 hours after the plane had landed, blood was fi-
nally drawn to determine the carbon monoxide level. Eventually, I
met up with my colleagues. When the doctor returned, he said ne
believed we had all experienced a lyophilic gas inhalation injury.
Since the blood tests had been performed so long after the original
inhalation, it was impossible to know which gas or gasses we had
been exposed to.

We later learned that before we had left Anchorage, our airplane
was maintenanced for a faulty thrust reverser while we and the
passengers were on board. When the work was completed, the me-
chanics tested the engines; however, the auxiliary power unit,
which is the on-the-ground electrical system for planes, was on, so
the vaporized fuel entered into the plane through the APU into the
air conditioning system and four open doors. We were actually
breathing vaporized fuel exhaust during preboarding and in-flight.



38

Since that horrible flight, I have had migraines, developed a
heart murmur, have a damaged endocrine system and visual dis-
turbances. I have chronic fatigue and olfactory sensitivity to all
chemicals. Also, I have had two convulsions, one as recently as last
month, and numbness in my face, arms, and legs. I have seen
countless doctors and have endured a multitude of tests, including
EEGs, an MRI, and a full-day neurological/psychological evalua-
tion. The latter test showed that I had lost 20 points in my IQ, now
have a learning disability, limited short-term memory and cog-
nitive functioning problems.

My doctor finally allowed me to work last June, but I found out
I was not ready; I did not see an improperly stowed briefcase, and
it came out of the overhead and knocked me unconscious.

My colleagues told me that I was a safety risk on this flight,
since I had incorrectly performed many basic and important safety
tests such as disarming the doors. I finally admitted to myself that
I have neurological prwjlems and was not healthy enough to work,
I have not worked since June.

Sadly, we are not the only group of flight attendants who have
become seriously ill from poor air quality on the aircraft. There
were 235 separate flights with air quality incidents and 506 related
flight attendant illnesses reported from July 1989 to the present on
my carrier alone. These flight attendants have reported headaches,
blurred vision, and other health problems.

The Association of Flight Attendants contacted the FAA imme-
diatelv and many times thereafter, as flight attendants began get-
ting ill. Nevertheless, my union learned last week that in Septem-
ber of 1991, the FAA requested that the carrier no longer send re-
ports on air quality incidents or illnesses to the agency. In other
words, the agency did not want to be bothered any further. The
union was never notified that they had stopped receiving these im-
portant documents.

Since the FAA claimed total jurisdiction over airline crew mem-
ber health and safety in 1975, the agency has failed to make any
serious effort to address occupational safety and health issues out-
side the area of crash survivability. The threats of turbulence, radi-
ation, passengers' viral illness, poorly-designed 200-pound meal
and beverage carts, lengthy duty days, noise, and inadequate cli-
mate controls argue forcibly for strong agency oversight of occupa-
tional hazards on aircraft. Yet the reality is that flight attendants
are unprotected and desperately need OSHA coverage.

Senator Metzenbaum. I thank you very much, Ms. Clarke. Your
entire statement will be included in the record.

[The prepared statement of Ms. Clarke follows:]

Prepared Statement of Deanne Clarke

Good morning Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, my name is
Deanne Clarke and I am a flight attendant for a national airline and a member of
the Association of Flight Attendants, AFL-CIO. on behalf of myself and my flying
partners, I am pleased to speak to you on why we need OSHA coverage. I am accom-
panied here today by Terry Taylor, the former AFA local president, who can provide
historical background on this situation.

It has been over a year since I worked the 45 minute flight from Anchorage to
Fairbanks, during which I, and my three colleagues, ; experienced severe health
symptoms. Since that time, I have been



39

unable to work and have seen countless doctors. But while it is depressing to be
so ill, what has been equalling upsetting has been my company's and the govern-
ment's total disinterest concerning my and others' illnesses. The airline and the
FAA reftise to do anything about our problem and OSHA can not help us because
it has no jurisdiction. This is why I am nere today.

I know you are all aware of the important safety responsibilities flight attendants
have on board an aircraft. Besides the routine responsibilities, flignt attendants
must be mentally and physically prepared at all times to evacuate an aircraft dur-
ing an emergency and provide emergency medical assistance to passengers. Our
main concern is the passenger's safety, and it is critical that we are alert and
healthy.

I am no longer healthy enough to perform my flight attendant responsibilities. Let
me tell you about what happened. Shortly after departure, I began to experience
dizziness, nausea and mv hands started to shake. Fifteen to 20 minutes mto the
fli^t, I had to sit down because my hands were numb; I was having difliculty con-
centrating and I had an excruciating pain in my head.

At the same time, two other flight attendants started feeling ill. We reported the
illnesses to the pilots. Our illnesses were dismissed without response. By the end
of the flight, I was disoriented and the waves of nausea and pain in my head wors-
ened. I had tunnel vision and my eyes felt like they were being pulled out their
sockets. I had hot flashes and the skin on my face felt like I had a horrible sunburn.
I even experienced a burning and tightness in my chest and my heart was palpitat-
ing.

We landed in Fairbanks and a carrier agent met our plane to help deplane the
passengers. Upon deplaning, we asked the agent and other company personnel for
help many times witn no success. I wandered around the passenger area but could
not remember where I was despite the fact that I am oft«n ancf regularly in that
airport area. I felt as if I was going under anesthesia. I heard noises and voices but
could not respond. My symptoms persisted as did the symptoms of the other flight
attendants. One flight attendant's fingernail beds were blue, her heart was racmg
and her eyes were extremely bloodshot.

We continued to try to convince the company that something was wrong and we
desperately needed help. We described our symptoms, but nobody showed any inter-
est. In fact, they wanted us to get back on the plane and continue working tne trip.
Finally, we managed to convince our supervisor that we were ill. She decided to
send us to the hospital by company van. I should note that two passengers, who
had also become ill on the flight, were taken to the hospital by ambulance. We ar-
rived at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital over an hour after we landed at the airport.
Our blood pressure, temperature, and glucose levels were taken. That was it.

?By this time, I had muscle weakness, a metallic taste in my mouth and extreme
paun in my bones and joints, which was later diagnosed as the bends. Finally at this
point, now three hours aft^r the plane had landed, blood was drawn to determine
the carbon monoxide level. Eventually, I met up with my colleagues. They were
shocked when they noticed that my hands and lips were deep blue. When the doctor
returned, he said he believed we had all experienced a lyophilic gas inhalation in-
jury. Since the blood tests had been performed so long after the original inhalation,
it was impossible to know which gas or gasses we had oeen exposed to.

When we returned to the airport, we were rescheduled to fly to Anchorage and
then Seattle, Washington and checked in for our flight. A passenger came up to me
and said she was glad to see I was alright because foUowing the fii^t, an announce-
ment had been made that the next flight on that plane had been "canceled due to
illness of a flight attendant who suffered from an air quality problem." That was
the only company acknowledgement we ever received that something was wrong
with that plane and that we had, in fact, become sick. We later learned that before
we had left Anchorage, our airplane was maintenanced for a faulty thrust reverser
while we and the passengers were on board. When the work was completed, the me-
chanics tested the engines. However, as the Auxiliary Power Unit (APU), the on
ground electrical system for planes, was on, the vaporized fuel entered into the
plane through the APU, the air conditioning system and four open doors. We were
actually breathing vaporized fuel exhaust during preboarding and in-flight.

Since that horrible flight, I have had migraines, developed a heart murmur, have
a damaged endocrine system and vision disturbances. I have chronic fatigue and an
olfactory sensitivity to all chemicals. Also, I have had two convulsions, one as re-
cently as last montn, and numbness of my face, arms and legs. I have seen countless
doctors and have endured a multitude of tests including EEGs, an MRI and a full
day neurological/psychological evaluation. The latter test showed that I had lost 20
points in my IQ, and now nave a learning disability, limited short term memory and
cognitive functioning problems. I have incurred almost $6,000 in medical costs.



40

To add insult to injury, while Washington State, where I reside, has twice said
I am covered by worker^ compensation, the carrier is appealing those decisions. I
have hired an attorney to help me with the appeal. I have received 60 percent of
my wage loss and secondary health insurance has paid 80 percent of the medical
bills. If I lose the appeal, I will have to pay back all of the money I received for
lost wages.

My doctor finally allowed me to return to work last June but I quickly found out
I was not ready. On one of these flights (and my last), I was hit in the head bv
an improperly stowed briefcase, emd it knocked me out. Had I been alert enough
to notice the briefcase in the overhead bin and prop)erly stowed it, I probably would
not have been hit by it and suffered the concussion. Later, my colleagues told me
I was a "safety risk on those flights since I had incorrectly perforraea many basic
and important safety tasks, such as disarming the doors. I finally admitted to my-
self that I did have neurological problems and was not healthy enough to work. I
have not worked since June.

The other flight attendants working that original flight have also taken off
months of work while they recover from various illnesses. Sadly, we are not the only
group of flight attendants to get seriously ill from poor air quality on our aircraft.
There were 235 separate flights with air quality incidents and 506 related flight at-
tendant illnesses reported from July 1989 to the present on my carrier alone. These
fUg^t attendants have reported headaches, blurred vision, and other health prob-
lems. The Association of FHght Attendants contacted the FAA inamediately when
fli^t attendants began getting ill. Despite numerous calls and letters, the FAA has
never taken any action. In fact, my union learned last week that in September of
1991, the FAA requested that the carrier no longer send reports on air quality inci-
dents and illnesses to the agency. In other words, the FAA did not want to be both-
ered any further. The union was never notified that the FAA had stopped collecting
these important documents. I have attached to this testimony a chronology of some
of the union's efforts to get help from the airline carrier and the government con-
cerning this serious problem.

In addition, these health problems are not just found on my carrier. In prepara-
tion for this hearing, I was told about another incident in June, 1990 on a major
carrier. A Boeing 727 aircraft, with 22 passengers and four flight attendants, was
traveling from Columbus, Ohio to New York's Laguardia Airport. Shortly after de-
parture, passengers and flight attendants began experiencing health problems. By
the time they arrived in New York, one flight attendant and a quarter of the pas-


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Online LibraryUnited States. Congress. Senate. Committee on LaboOSHA reform : coverage and enforcement : hearing before the Subcommittee on Labor of the Committee on Labor and Human Resources, United States Senate, One Hundred Third Congress, first session, on examining the scope of coverage and enforcement of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration of → online text (page 6 of 17)