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Unions Remind U.S.: 150 Workers Die Every Day from Job Injuries, Illnesses

April 28, 2017

In 2015, 150 workers died from preventable work-related injuries and illnesses every day in the United States, on average, according to a report, Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect, released by the AFL-CIO.

The union said 4,836 workers died due to workplace injuries, and another 50,000-60,000 died from occupational diseases. The number of immigrant workers killed on the job reached a nearly 10-year high.

The union organization blames “corporate negligence and weak safety laws” for what it says is an “unacceptable” tragedy affecting working families.

The report praises the safety record of the Obama Administration and criticizes the Trump administration’s safety policies:

“The Obama administration had a strong track record on worker safety and health, strengthening enforcement, issuing key safety and health standards, and improving anti-retaliation protections and other rights for workers. With the election of President Trump, the political landscape has shifted dramatically, and many of these gains are threatened.”

According to AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, “too many Republican politicians in Washington, including the Trump administration,” are trying to roll back safety regulations. “These are more than numbers; they are our brothers and sisters, and a reminder of the need to continue our fight for every worker to be safe on the job every day,” Trumka said.

The report says that more than 553,000 workers lives have been saved since the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970.

The report shows the highest workplace fatality rates are in North Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Nebraska and West Virginia.

The report estimates the cost of job injuries and illnesses at $250 billion to $360 billion a year.

According to the report, Latino workers have an 18 percent higher fatality rate than the national average. Deaths among Latino workers increased to 903, compared with 804 in 2014. Overall, 943 immigrant workers were killed on the job in 2015—the highest number since 2007.

The report also finds that construction, transportation and agriculture remain among the most dangerous sectors. More than 930 construction workers were killed in 2015—the highest in any sector. Older workers also are at high risk, with those 65 or older 2.5 times more likely to die on the job. Workplace violence continues to be a growing problem for workers, resulting in 703 deaths.

On April 28, the unions of the AFL-CIO observe Workers Memorial Day at events across the country to remember those who have died on the job.

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