Workplace Deaths: "Abandon hope all ye who enter here"


Here is a story drawn from the book entitled "Morti Bianche" (White Deaths), written by Samanta Di Persio and made available free of charge on this blog.
"The accident involving Antonino Mingolla occurred on 18 April 2006. My husband was working for a company called Cmt, a firm that had been awarded the maintenance contract for the Ilva plants. Due to his many years of experience in the field, he was appointed as deputy site foreman. On that fateful day, he and his team were scheduled to replace a valve on a certain pipeline that removed the gases produced by the blast furnaces. This task required that the workers wear masks connected to air tanks located on the ground. Prior to the commencement of the maintenance operations, Ilva was required to make the area safe, in other words, shut off the gas supply and flush the pipeline with nitrogen in order to remove any remaining traces of the gas. The flushing occurs through a number of flues. The valves were then to be shut by Ilva employees prior to handing over to the outside company for them to begin with the necessary work. In order to ensure the “safety” of the operations, the company normally handed out the masks they kept on hand, which were fitted with gas detectors, but apparently, on tat day none of these detectors registered the presence of any gas.
The pipes on which the people were working are enormous. They are three metres in diameter and are suspended some twenty metres above ground level. There were walkways located adjacent to this pipeline. On the one side was the entrance with the staircase leading up, serving both as access way and escape route. In the spot where my husband was working, there was a two-metre by four-metre walkway, fenced off by a handrail. Each time Antonino needed to move around, communicate with anyone at the other end of the working area or simply move away in order to keep an eye on the workers, or if he perhaps felt unwell, he was obliged to clamber over a three-metre pipe.
This was an untenable situation and one that was anything but safe. When a company puts a job out on tender, they should oversee the work in order to ensure compliance with the safety regulations, even as regards temporary operations. Are we honestly expected to believe that neither Ilva nor Cmt committed any safety violations?
Notwithstanding the fact that the conditions were not up to the required standards, my husband and his team nevertheless began with the maintenance procedure. If the truth were told, this was the way it had always been. They started disconnecting the pipes to insert the blank flanges that run on rails, in order to prevent any gas from escaping while the valve was being worked on.
Already early on during the day, they had encountered certain problems with the insertion of the blank flanges. At around 10 o’clock, one of Antonino’s colleagues began to feel ill due to the emission of toxic gaseous substances into the air.
When I spoke to him, he told me that he had changed the gas tank. The procedure for changing the tank was the same as it had always been previously and involved the workers moving back to a safe zone. That morning, instead, when he put the mask back on, he began to feel ill as a result of dizziness and nausea. What I think is that there were high levels of carbon monoxide in the air, which also landed on Antonino’s mask and he eventually died at four in the afternoon. His shift was due to end at 15h00. He stayed on for an extra hour due to his sense of duty and because he wanted to see the maintenance job through to its conclusion.
Only the court case will be able to establish the precise dynamics of the accident with any kind of certainty. For the time being, there is only a lot of passing the buck.
Antonino and I were the same age; we were both 46 years old at the time of the accident. We had two adolescent children who are now 15 and 16 years of age respectively. We had made a joint decision that he would go out to work while I would stay at home and raise our children. I try to provide the children with everything they may need so as to ensure that they can live in a carefree manner and, I must say, they have been extremely understanding. I feel honour bound to carry on fighting, together with the other families that have been left all alone, both by the trades union and the politicians. The only trade union that has given us any kind of support at all is the organised SLAI COBAS trade union of Taranto, who advised us to set up the “12th July Association”. Ilva has never approached us, not even as regards the conciliation attempt set up by my attorney.
Antonino was afraid because there had been far too many accidents of late. For example, I remember on of the stories he told me. On one occasion, a worker standing next to my husband fell off the scaffolding, under which ran the conveyor belts. They asked that the conveyor belts be stopped so that the man’s body could be recovered, but Ilva could not halt their production. From the year 2000, through to 2007, 16 men lost their lives in that place. That place is and always will be Dante’s Inferno, so it is appropriate to quote the phrase “abandon hope all ye that enter here”. It was only thanks to a bit of fear and irony that my husband was able to continue going to work. I am concerned about the fact that around 1,300 people die every year due to their work, that too many of these have no voice and are not ever mentioned. We are talking about an average of 3.5 deaths every day. My prayer is that no more bodies be separated and broken because these are human beings and should remain intact. What I wish for is that the hope for justice never dies, because it is difficult to face court cases where, against a colossus such as Ilva, I feel somewhat like an insignificant little ant. I cannot believe that the statute of limitations on these cases actually expires after just seven years.
During this period, hearings may be postponed for no reason and the delays increase without any valid reason, for example, when certain witnesses fail to show up. There is no respect or protection, not even after tragedy for which my husband bore no blame. There are 13,500 people currently working for Ilva, and another 8,000 currently working for associated companies. There is no other option but for them to join the other families involved in the Associazione 12 giugno and the many other associations that would like to join forces, so that we can give each other strength and to travel throughout Italy to tell the story to anyone who may wish to fight at our side."
Samanta Di Persio, from the book entitled "Morti Bianche".

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 05:15 PM in | Comments (3)
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Abandon every hope, you who enter here

e tante altre traduzioni da babelfish.
ma chi traduce da italiano a inglese, ha imparato l'inglese al cepu??

Beppe ma assumi qualcuno piu' skillato suvvia.

Posted by: Michele Bene | August 9, 2008 08:20 AM

zero is the number of the beast

skull and strawberry like 1979

Ich bin der Koenig!

give me a man after midnight....

want to smell some fleures du mal...

reply to my zero mail...

God... OVERLORD... waiting for midnight....

freedom everywhere... mess and anarchy...

want to join skull and bones...

HIM I wait for you my darling

Posted by: andrea dino | August 8, 2008 06:11 PM

Ich bin im Amsterdam... nice but a little bit too commercial mner meinung nach.... anyway I want to suck some dicks... and drink the juice... plz give me a man after midnight!!

Prefer th cold and so omosexual germany... there yoyu can meet people alone.

God.... fuck off....

yours sincerely ZERO

Posted by: Andrea Dino | August 8, 2008 06:07 PM

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