The 29th edition of Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect features state and federal data on worker fatalities, injuries and illnesses, as well as worker protections. In particular, the report examines some of the industries and workers most affected by the pandemic. For instance, among nursing home workers, more than 175,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 were reported between May 24 and September 6, in addition to nearly 121,000 suspected cases and 868 deaths.
The report is put together by the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL–CIO), the largest federation of unions in the United States. It is made up of fifty-five national and international unions, together representing more than 12 million active and retired workers.
Further data in the report shows that at least 163,000 health care workers had been infected, and 713 had died by the end of September, while the meatpacking, food processing and farming industries reported more than 58,000 infections and 238 deaths from April 22 to September 16.
According to the report, susceptible work environments include indoor workplaces, those with poorly ventilated spaces or crowded working conditions, and where workers are in proximity to infected individuals.
Other statistics in the report include that workplace violence accounted for 828 deaths, including 453 homicides. Workplace violence was the second leading cause of occupational fatalities, behind transportation incidents (2,080 deaths). Deaths among Black workers increased to 615 from 530 in 2017. That total is a 46% increase from 10 years ago. Deaths among Latino workers increased to 961 from 903 in 2017. Deaths among Latino immigrant workers were the major contributor to this increase (641 compared with 568 in 2017).
In addition, the report found:
- A third of the fatalities involved workers 55 and older, while those 65 or older had a fatality rate of 9.6 per 100,000 workers. The overall fatality rate was 3.5 per 100,000 workers.
- States with the highest fatality rates were Wyoming (11.5 per 100,000 workers), Alaska (9.9), North Dakota (9.6), West Virginia (7.9) and South Dakota (6.9).
“Nearly 50 years after the passage of the nation’s job safety laws, the toll of workplace injury, illness and death remains too high, and too many workers remain at serious risk,” the report states. “There is much more work to be done.”