In a report detailing the personal stories of workers who lost their lives on the job in recent years, The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH) pairs personal stories with government data to highlight the need for worker health and safety reforms.
The report, “Preventable Deaths: The Tragedy of Workplace Fatalities,” was released just days before Workers’ Memorial Day, which is held April 28 every year to commemorate the workers who were injured or killed on the job. According to the latest complete data available, more than 4,600 workers were killed on the job in 2011 – workers who spanned many ages, industries and causes of death.
“Each worker killed is a tragic loss to the community of family, friends and co-workers – and the worst part is, these deaths were largely preventable,” said Tom O’Connor, executive director of National COSH. “Simply by following proven safety practices and complying with OSHA standards, many of these more than 4,600 deaths could have been avoided. But as companies decry regulations and emphasize profits over safety, workers pay the ultimate price.”
The report especially pushes for reforms to better protect temporary workers, immigrant workers and energy workers.
For example, the death of 21-year-old Lawrence Daquan “Day” Davis on his first day on the job as a temporary worker at the Bacardi Bottling Co. in Jacksonville, Fla., highlights the need for adequate training and protection of temporary workers – who now comprise 25 percent of the workforce.
Immigrant workers also are vulnerable. These workers often work some of the most dangerous jobs in hazardous industries to try to build a better life in America, but a disproportionate number of them die on the job. More than two Latino workers were killed on the job every day in 2011, many of whom were immigrant workers.
The report also addresses issues including the health and safety of workers in the energy sector; workplace violence; the occupational hazards faced by young agricultural workers; inadequate fines for workplace safety violations; heat stress; whistleblower protection; and more.
Workers’ Memorial Day: Report Urges Safety Reforms to End Preventable Deaths