Sinclair Lecture Highlights Neglect of Farm Safety
Jeffrey Meitrodt, an investigative reporter with Minneapolis’ Star Tribune, was the latest reporter to present the annual Upton Sinclair Memorial Lecture at AIHce EXP 2019 in Minneapolis, Minn. Meitrodt’s lecture, titled “The Price of Neglecting Farm Safety in the Midwest,” offered an inside view of the reporting behind his award-winning series of articles “Tragic Harvest” and its impact on farm safety in Minnesota. The article series examines a troubling spike in farm deaths that went unnoticed by state and federal officials charged with overseeing workplace safety. “Farmers are supposed to follow the same kind of safety rules that apply on other work sites. But Congress has routinely exempted farms from federal oversight if they do not employ at least 11 workers,” Meitrodt wrote. “Most fatal accidents happen at these smaller operations, not mega-farms or giant dairies, and receive little scrutiny.” Meitrodt joined the Star Tribune in 2009 and specializes in stories involving the collision of business and government regulation. He has led or overseen more than a dozen investigations, including the reckless use of all-terrain vehicles by children and the deadly surge of synthetic drugs. He coauthored a 2013 series about special education that won the National Headliner Award for education writing. Meitrodt is currently working on investigations centered in the business world. The Upton Sinclair Memorial Lecture is presented annually at AIHce EXP by journalists who have been invited by AIHA's Social Concerns Committee to deliver lectures based on their stories. The lecture is named for the political activist Upton Sinclair, who is best known for his 1906 novel The Jungle, which described the horrors of the meat-packing plants in Chicago and led to major health and safety changes in the industry. The lecture series highlights the importance of media in occupational safety and health, involves the public in the cause of occupational safety and health, and recognizes good investigative reporting. A list of previous Upton Sinclair lecturers is available on AIHA’s website. Read Synergist coverage of the Upton Sinclair Memorial Lecture and other conference news on the AIHce Daily page.

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