The State of Safety Highlighted During Workers’ Memorial Week

heightened safety during workers memorial week

Workers’ Memorial Week was from April 23-30 in 2018.  Both AFL-CIO and the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health found the week an appropriate time to release reports that highlight workplace safety: “Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect” and “The Dirty Dozen 2018“, respectively.  The statistics in “Death on the Job” prompted AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka to say that the United States is in a “national crisis.”  The organization is calling for safety and health improvements from federal agencies such as OSHA and MSHA.

Some of the findings of “Death on the Job” include:

  • Worker deaths rose from 4,836 in 2015 to 5,190 in 2016, a increase of 354 fatalities
  • The national fatality rate climbed to 3.6 per 100,000
  • An estimated 60,000 additional deaths can be attributed to occupational diseases
  • Workplace violence is the second-leading cause of workplace deaths at 866 in 2016, including 500 homicides
  • The construction sector had the highest number of fatalities
  • Latino death and fatality rates declined
  • Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, South Dakota and North Dakota have the highest fatality rates

“The Dirty Dozen 2018” is a list of US employers that the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health claim have jeopardized worker safety.  The criteria for the list included:

  • Severity of injuries to workers
  • Exposure to unnecessary and preventable risk
  • Repeat citations by relevant state and federal authorities
  • Activity by workers to improve their health and safety conditions

The report also highlights the increase in workplace fatalities in 2016 while also going over the most at risk groups, the dangers of long-term exposure and the unregulated and dangerous flavoring chemicals used in food production.

After the release of both reports, OSHA deputy assistant secretary of labor Loren Sweatt said “American workplaces have become much safer in the decades since [OSHA opened its doors in 1971].  We will continue to work with our partners across the country… to make every workplace safe and healthful.”  President and CET of NSC Deborah A.P. Hersman had this to say: “Preventable deaths are tragedies because they should not have happened.  Committing to eliminating all preventable workplace deaths may seem like a daunting task, but when you think of the 5,190 families and communities that carry the loss of loved ones for a lifetime, it is the only acceptable goal.”

References: “Rise in worker deaths a ‘national crisis,’ AFL-CIO president says during Workers’ Memorial Week“, “The Dirty Dozen 2018: Employers Who Put Workers and Communities at Risk

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