The report notes that in 2011, there were 4,693 workplace deaths due to traumatic injuries and more than 3.8 million workers across all industries, including state and local government, who experienced work-related illnesses and injuries. As a comparison point, in 2010, 4,690 people died on the job. For the past three years, after years of steady decline the job fatality rate has essentially been unchanged, with a rate of 3.5/100,000 workers in 2011. Similarly for past two years there has been no change in the reported workplace injury and illness rate (3.5 per 100 workers), indicating that greater efforts are needed for continued progress in reducing job injuries and deaths.
“Too many people are dying on the job right here in Wisconsin and a lot of work still needs to be done to ensure that no worker fears for his or her health and well-being on the job,” said Phil Neuenfeldt, President of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO. “Many workers are still unable to have a voice on the job and to advocate for better working conditions in both the public and private sector. A good job is not defined only by the absence of physical danger. Working people deserve respect, dignity, good wages, healthcare, and opportunities to grow and to give back to one’s community.”
“With recent workplace tragedies in Bangladesh and West, Texas, we are reminded of the horrific human toll unsafe workplaces and inadequate workplace inspections have on local communities and society as a whole,” said Stephanie Bloomingdale, Secretary-Treasurer of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO. “This report reminds us that we must do more to ensure that every worker who gets up to go to work comes home to their family. We can and must do better. Through collective bargaining, adequate oversight and increased commitment to worker rights we can decrease workplace fatalities.”
The AFL-CIO report features profiles of workers’ safety and health in each state and includes national information on workplace illnesses, injuries and fatalities as well as the number and frequency of workplace inspections, penalties, funding, staffing and public employee coverage under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act). The report also addresses delays in the rule-making process and emerging hazards such as pandemic flu and other infectious diseases.
The report finds that in the face of an ongoing assault on regulations by business groups and Republicans in Congress, progress on many new important safety and health rules has stalled. The White House Office of Management and Budget has delayed needed protections including OSHA’s draft proposed silica rule which has been held up for more than 2 years.
Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect was released after vigils, rallies and actions were held across the country to commemorate all those workers who died and were injured on the job for Workers Memorial Day on April 28.