According to a new report from the AFL-CIO, in 2013, 4,585 workers were killed on the job in the United States, and an estimated 50,000 died from occupational diseases, resulting in a loss of 150 workers each day from hazardous working conditions.
The report, titled Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect, 2015, said that nearly 3.8 million work-related injuries and illnesses were reported, but many injuries are not reported. "The true toll is likely two to three times greater, or 7.6 million to 11.4 million injuries each year," the report said.
North Dakota continues to stand out as an exceptionally dangerous and deadly place to work, said the report. For the third year in a row, North Dakota had the highest job fatality rate in the nation. The state’s job fatality rate of 14.9 per 100,000 was more than four times the national average and its fatality rate and number of deaths have more than doubled since 2007.
Latino workers continue to be at increased risk of job fatalities. The fatality rate among Latino workers increased in 2013 to 3.9 per 100,000 workers, up from a rate of 3.7 per 100,000 in 2012. At the same time, the number and rate of fatalities for all other races declined or stayed the same. There were 817 Latino workers killed on the job in 2013, up from 748 deaths in 2012. Sixty-six percent of the fatalities (542 deaths) in 2013 were among workers born outside the United States. There was a sharp increase in Latino deaths among grounds maintenance workers. Specifically, deaths related to tree trimming and pruning doubled among Latino workers since 2012, and 87% of the landscaping deaths among Latino workers were immigrants.
Workplace violence continues to be the second leading cause of job fatalities in the United States (after transportation incidents), the report said, responsible for 773 worker deaths and 26,520 lost-time injuries in 2013. Women workers suffered 70% of the lost-time injuries related to workplace violence.
Penalties for worker deaths continue to be minimal, according to the report. For FY 2014, the median penalty in fatality cases investigated by federal OSHA was $5,050, and for the OSHA state plans the median penalty was $4,438. "Criminal penalties under the OSHA law are weak," according to the report. "They are limited to cases in which a willful violation results in a worker death, resulting in misdemeanors. Since 1970, only 88 cases have been prosecuted, with defendants serving a total of 100 months in jail. During this time there were more than 390,000 worker deaths."
The report is available at http://www.aflcio.org/Issues/Job-Safety/Death-on-the-Job-Report