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    "The fight is never about grapes or lettuce. It is always about people."
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    :: Thursday, June 14, 2007 ::

    Construction Boom Leading to More Wash. Job-Site Accidents, Death - Insurance Journal, CA
    Injury rates remain high in the building trades, in natural resource extraction and in some manufacturing industries.

    That's partly because some employers aren't making safety a priority, said Leonard Smith, a spokesman for the Teamsters union local headquartered in Seattle.

    "What we find is that there are generally two kinds of employers --those who view safety as an asset and those who view it as an impediment to making money," Smith said.

    The local has lost one worker this year, Afrian Vega. State investigators are reviewing the Jan. 17 accident at Seattle Iron & Metals Corp. that killed Vega.

    The state's inspectors-per-worker ratio ranks among the top in the nation, with 100 inspectors, said Rick Gleason, a safety trainer with the University of Washington and a former work-site inspector.

    Idaho, for example, has just nine accident investigators for the entire state. By comparison, Gleason said, the Washington Legislature this year directed Labor and Industries to hire 11 inspectors assigned solely to examine and certify cranes.

    "We're getting safer," he said. "But, if you're one of the 90 (Washington state) workers that's going to die this year, it doesn't really matter."
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