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12 Things You Need to Know About Death on the Job

The AFL-CIO today released its 28th annual Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect report. Each April, we examine the state of worker safety in America. This year’s report shows that 5,147 working people were killed on the job in 2017. Additionally, an estimated 95,000 died from occupational diseases.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka (UMWA) called for action:

This is a national crisis. And it’s well past time that our elected leaders in Washington, D.C., stop playing politics and take action to prevent these tragedies. Instead, the Trump administration is actually gutting the protections we fought so hard to win in the first place. This is unacceptable. It’s shameful. And the labor movement is doing everything in our power to stop it.

Here are 12 key findings from the report:

  1. Every day, 275 workers die from hazardous working conditions.
  2. There is only one Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspector for every 79,000 workers.
  3. Since 1970, there have been 410,000 traumatic worker deaths, but only 99 cases have been criminally prosecuted under the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
  4. The average OSHA penalty for serious worker safety violations is only $3,580. The penalty rises to $7,761, on average, for worker deaths.
  5. About 8 million public sector workers lack OSHA protection. Their rate of injury and illness is 64% higher than private sector employees.
  6. Workplace violence is now the third-leading cause of death on the job.
  7. Women face the brunt of workplace violence, accounting for 2 of every 3 people who are attacked.
  8. Workplace violence caused 807 deaths in 2017 and nearly 29,000 serious injuries. More than 450 of those deaths were homicides.
  9. Health care and social assistance workers are four times more likely to suffer a workplace violence injury than those who work in other occupations. The level of serious workplace violence injuries for these workers has risen 69% in the past decade.
  10. The five most dangerous states to work in are: Alaska, North Dakota, Wyoming, West Virginia and South Dakota.
  11. The fatality rate for Latino and immigrant workers and workers 65 and older is higher than the national average.
  12. Workplace violence is preventable. An enforceable OSHA standard would keep workers safe, but in the meantime, Congress should pass the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act.

Read the full report to learn more.

This blog was originally published by the AFL-CIO on April 25, 2019. Reprinted with permission. 

About the Author: Kenneth Quinnell is a long-time blogger, campaign staffer and political activist. Before joining the AFL-CIO in 2012, he worked as labor reporter for the blog Crooks and Liars.

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