I always thought it was weird when coal miners claimed that they were the ones disregarding safety rules and not using equipment by their own judgment, not under the orders of supervisors requiring unsafe work practices to help the bottom line. But in this article, it says,
Coal workers are supposed to be offered masks to wear, Smiddy said, but “for a 12-hour shift in a coal mine, there's almost nobody who can wear a mask. They say, ‘It's heavy on my face, I can't breathe with it on.’”
That got me to thinking about how many news stories I ran into this summer about the difficulty of dealing with PPE in the ebola outbreak, and how no one says, "The gowns were just too uncomfortable, so we just took them off." In fact, I spent a lot of time last summer wondering at how people seemed to be transmitting ebola so easily. I've used BSL 3 PPE in a relatively low-pressure environment and it didn't strike me as a particularly big deal. Ebola is the next step up, but it still seemed like people who should know better were getting sick all the time.
Then again, from the sounds of it, health workers were doing their work without the aid of gowns and masks quite a lot as the outbreak spun up. I'd really love to hear from someone who's been there about how that comes to pass, and whether it rests on ignorance or a mixture of carelessness and bravery. I wonder what the difference is between health care workers and their PPE, and coal miners and theirs. Ebola kills you quicker than black lung, but still.
Even if this tangential thought isn't all that interesting to you, read this article. It does a good job of showing the intersections between poverty and disability and how our country's safety net isn't constructed in a way that can quite handle those complications.