Linden, N.J., Fatalities Get House Subcommittee's Scrutiny

The new year's first order of business for the U.S. House Education and Labor Committee is a "Workplace Tragedies: Examining Problems and Solutions" Jan. 14 field hearing by the Workforce Protections Subcommittee in Linden, N.J. If the name of the city rings a bell, it is probably because you remember the Dec. 1 deaths of two unrelated workers, Victor Diaz and Carlos Diaz, who died as they were power-washing a 20,000-gallon dilution tank at North East Linen, an industrial laundry in Linden. The men had not been specially trained or equipped with respiratory protection, according to news reports and blogger Daniel Millstone, who reported Dec. 13 that Union County (NJ) Emergency Management Haz-Mat Chief Chris Scataro's readings an hour after the 911 call showed hydrogen sulfide levels as high as 80 percent in the tank, even though first responders had ventilated it before he took the measurements.

The other recent Linden tragedy occurred Dec. 7, when a scaffold occupied by two brothers who were window washers, Edgar Moreno, 30, and Alcides Moreno, 37, fell 47 stories on Manhattan's East Side, killing Edgar and gravely injuring Alcides; they shared a home in Linden. Linden, which is in Union County, N.J., is within the 10th Congressional District represented by U.S. Rep. Donald Payne, a Democratic member of the subcommittee.

The Daily Gotham™ blog has reported extensively on the two incidents, responses to them by public officials, and an SEIU local union's call for the New York City Council to conduct hearings on scaffold safety after 22 deaths this year. The Daily Gotham™ (http://dailygotham.com/) is published by culturekitchen Media, LTD.

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