The Verso Paper Mill exploded, killed one, injured five and cost 260 employees their jobs. In addition, the Verso paid $350,000 to the Sartell fire department for the cleanup and the structural damage cost $50 million. The company also lost future earnings from the plant that had operated successfully for over a hundred years.
Why? Because the plant didn't bother to have a piece of paper with a shut down plan. It winged it when the time came and lost. The company was fined $39,000 by OSHA for not having the piece of paper but there were no consequences for people who should have had safety policies in place. I believe the CEOs should be held accountable. All CEOs can’t be expected to be experts on safety. However, a requirement for CEOs to have a working safety structure in place that has independent checks to make certain that the system is performing seems like a reasonable start and would only codify good business practices. We need change incentives so CEOs are required to think long term.
Conservatives always claim regulations are too onerous but as usual the actual problem is the exact opposite. We need a system that encourages businesses to act safely and not put profits above all else which is our current system that encourages short-term profits whether that's for shipping jobs over seas, not providing adequate health care, taking short-cuts with safety regulations, destroying our environment, destroying our democracy or making fraudulent loans.
I believe if we are going to save ourselves we need a fundamental change in the way CEOS and their boards are rewarded and governed.
The Verso plant is in Michele Bachmann's district. They voted Mrs deregulation in for another two years in the face of a very stark reality. The GOP has become a defender of the CEOs and others who take advantage of the rest of us but still only 53% of the country seems to understand that. We still have to find a way to get through to those who vote against their interests.