More than 5,000 workers were killed on the job in 2016 and nearly 3.7 million injuries on the job were reported (millions more went unreported), the AFL-CIO’s annual Death on the Job report reveals. The death toll of 5,190 means 14 people killed per day just doing their jobs. Some key statistics:
Workplace violence deaths increased significantly in 2016:
- Workplace violence is now the second-leading cause of workplace death.
- 866 worker deaths were caused by violence, an increase from 703.
- 500 worker deaths were workplace homicides.
- Violence was responsible for more than 27,000 lost-time injuries.
- Women workers are at greater risk of violence than men; they suffered two-thirds of the lost-time injuries related to workplace violence.
- There is no federal OSHA standard to protect workers from workplace violence; the Trump administration has sidelined an OSHA workplace violence standard.
Latino and immigrant workers’ safety and health has improved, but the risk to these workers still is greater than other workers:
- The Latino fatality rate was 3.7 per 100,000 workers, down from 4.0 per 100,000.This is still higher than the national average (3.6).
- Deaths among Latino workers decreased in 2016; 879 deaths, compared with 903 in 2015. Deaths among Latino immigrant workers declined to 588 from 605.
Workplace deaths fell dramatically after the 1970 passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, but the Trump administration is poised to roll back many of the gains:
OSHA is also attempting to roll back important worker protections issued during the Obama administration like beryllium protections for construction and maritime workers, and an important recordkeeping regulation that will provide information to OSHA and the public about companies’ safety and health record. And the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) is considering weakening coal dust protections. Meanwhile, important rules to protect workers from the hazards of workplace violence, infectious diseases, and chemical plant disasters languish at OSHA.
And OSHA completely abandoned work on more than a dozen new rules including rules on combustible dust, noise in construction, and protecting workers from being backed over by construction vehicles.
Under the radar, OSHA withdrew its “walkaround policy” that gave nonunion workers the right to have a representative participate in OSHA inspections and stopped posting information on the home page of its website on all worker fatalities reported to OSHA.
Workers at the XPO Logistics warehouse in Memphis announced in early April that they had filed a complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleging rampant abuse, including sexual harassment. On April 3, workers held a rally with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) to coincide with the filing of the EEOC complaint.
The complaint was triggered by an XPO worker’s death that co-workers attribute to company policies which restrict workers from leaving the job. In October 2017, Linda Neal, 58, died at work after passing out on the job. Workers allege that a supervisor denied Neal being given CPR by a co-worker. Medical reports confirmed that Neal died of a heart attack caused by cardiovascular disease.
● The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has dismissed a lawsuit seeking to lift the state’s charter school cap, an effort to do through the courts what voters resoundingly rejected in 2016.