Report: Grim Facts on Workplace Deaths in the U.S.

Source: Borislav Marinic - 123RF

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 5,147 employees died from workplace trauma in 2017, a drop of 0.8% from 2016.

However, the overall trend shows that workplace deaths are up by 11% since 2012.

The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH) has released its “Dirty Dozen 2019” report – employers who put workers and communities at risk.

In addition to more than 5,100 deaths from acute workplace trauma, an estimated 95,000 workers die annually in the U.S. from cancers, respiratory and circulatory diseases and other illnesses associated with long-term exposure in the workplace.

The report states that despite the high cost to workers and the U.S. economy of workplace illness, injury and death, federal OSHA and other agencies continue to operate with insufficient resources:

● US OSHA now has just 875 inspectors to cover 9 million U.S. workplaces;

● It would take 158 years for OSHA to inspect all workplaces under its jurisdiction;

● OSHA enforcement activity is down 7.4 percent in the first five months of FY 2018;

● The price of a worker’s life: $7,500 — the median fine following a workplace fatality; and

● The FY 2019 proposed budget eliminates two critical safety programs – OSHA’s Susan Harwood Training Grants and the U.S. Chemical Safety Board.

The report states that the toll includes:

  • Work-related cancer from toxic substances like asbestos and other carcinogens;
  • Respiratory and circulatory diseases; and
  • Other conditions linked to hazardous exposures.

In some cases, due to lack of proper safety training and the failure of employers to provide information about workplace hazards, workers may lose their lives without being aware they are suffering from an occupational illness.

Deaths from acute trauma, fatalities from long-term occupational exposure are preventable if steps are taken to recognize and eliminate workplace hazards.

Employers frequently will not spend the time or money to take these actions on their own.

NCOSH states: “An empowered workforce, combined with rigorous enforcement of safety laws, can make the difference between life and death in the workplace.”