According to a new report from the AFL-CIO, 13 workers were killed each day in the United States in 2011 as a result of work-related injuries, and another 137 people per day are killed as a result of work-related illness and disease. Although workplaces have become safer overall in the United States since the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, the report indicated that the overall committment to workplace safety has diminished in recent years, putting workers at risk.
The report said that while the job fatality rate has consistently been on the decline for decades, the past three years remained steady in the number of workers who are losing their lives because of workplace injuries or illnesses. According to the most current data, North Dakota had the highest job fatality rate in the country, while Pennsylvania had the lowest. The report was based on data from both the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA).
The report also indicated that a unprportionate number of Latino workers die because of workplace injuries and illnesses. As many as 68 percent of the workers who were killed on the job in 2011 were Latino, the report indicated. Additionally, the fatality rate among Latino workers is 14 percent higher than the job fatality rate among the general public.
While we often think about fatal accidents when we think about workplace fatalities, illnesses caused by exposure to harmful substances on the job is also a very serious problem. In fact, the report found that workplace exposures contributes to as many as 50,000 worker deaths each year in the United States.
After detailing the data on fatal workplace injuries and illnesses, the AFL-CIO report calls on Congress to enact the Protecting America’s Workers Act, a bill that would boost OSHA. As it stands today, OSHA is so understaffed that it would take approximately 67 years for the agency to inspect every workplace in the United States.
Source: msnbc.com, “US work-related deaths top 150 a day, finds AFL-CIO report,” Ned Resnikoff, May 8, 2013