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workplace fatalities
Monday is Workers' Memorial Day, International Workers' Memorial Day and International Commemoration Day (ICD) for Dead and Injured. It was initiated in 1984 by the Canadian Union of Public Employees in remembrance of workers killed, injured or made ill in the workplace. The United States has commemorated the day on April 28 for a quarter-century, ever since 1989. But it rarely makes front-page headlines or gets more than a brief mention on the airwaves. Because, you know, workers.

More on occupational fatalities below the fold.

April 28 is also the day in 1971 that the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration was established. Its role and the role of state-run operations like Cal/OSHA in California is to improve workplace conditions, set standards and enforce them, and provide training, education and assistance to help prevent workplace accidents and reduce health hazards.

As the chart above shows, there have been fewer workplace deaths over time, but thousands still die each year. Over the 20-year period of 1992-2011, 115,091 people in the United States were killed from injuries inflicted while at work. The annual total of occupational fatalities has fallen by 25 percent during that time, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But there is a long way to go in getting the numbers down. In some quarters, there is still considerable opposition to the whole idea of government "meddling" in private enterprise to protect lives.

Annual fatalities ranged from a high of 6,632 in 1994 to a low of 4,551 in 2009. These counts translate to an average of one worker fatality every 79 minutes in 1994, compared with an average of one every 115 minutes in 2009.

Nearly 72 percent of all fatally injured workers from 1992 to 2011 were White, non-Hispanic workers. Hispanic or Latino workers accounted for 13 percent of those killed on the job.

While the annual total of fatal occupational injuries has decreased since 1992, the composition of that total has shifted. The most common event leading to a fatal occupational injury in both 1992 and 2011 was a roadway incident. Roadway incidents accounted for 19 percent of all occupational fatalities in 1992 and 24 percent in 2011. Homicides fell as a percentage of all fatalities over the 20‑year span, accounting for 17 percent of all work fatalities in 1992 and 10 percent in 2011. Falls to a lower level increased as a percentage of all fatalities, rising from 8 percent in 1992 to 12 percent in 2011. Contact with electricity accounted for 5 percent of fatalities in 1992 and 4 percent in 2011.

workplace fatalities by type
A BLS tally of fatal workplace injuries in 2012 was published last week.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Mon Apr 28, 2014 at 11:33 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos Labor, In Support of Labor and Unions, and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Reading OSHA's summaries (14+ / 0-)

    of fatal accidents is a moving and troubling experience.  Please note that not all fatal work place accidents are reported.

    It's a mix of felonious misconduct, like making people work on live electrical lines, and the cruelest whims of fate.

    I even found several instances of golf course maintenance workers getting killed. I do that work part-time.  Reading those reports certainly slowed down my work pace, those mowers and ORVs tip over and kill folks all too often, for instance. Of course, now the boss is bitching about my slow work.

    Here's a sampling of fatal accident summaries:

    “The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.” ― Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

    by 6412093 on Mon Apr 28, 2014 at 12:05:03 PM PDT

  •  New Title: Fewer Workers (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Flying Goat, salmo, Rich in PA

    So does this chart show us that there are fewer people getting injured at work, or fewer workers to get injured?

    Sadly the vertical axis shows us only "fatal occupational injuries", not injuries as a percentage of the workforce.  So there is no way to know whether fewer workers are injured on the job, or whether there are fewer people in the workforce to get injured.

    Fewer workplace injuries as a percentage of the number of workers would be welcome news indeed.  Reduced injuries because fewer people are working is bad news for workers and Americans generally.

    "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

    by Hugh Jim Bissell on Mon Apr 28, 2014 at 12:15:18 PM PDT

    •  In March 1992, there were 119,542, 000 people... (5+ / 0-)

      ...employed in the U.S. In March 2014, there were 145,742,000.

      Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

      by Meteor Blades on Mon Apr 28, 2014 at 12:54:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thank You - A step in the right direction n/t (0+ / 0-)

        "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

        by Hugh Jim Bissell on Mon Apr 28, 2014 at 01:34:52 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  More detailed number-crunching would be useful (0+ / 0-)

        Different types of jobs have greater or lesser inherent danger on a day-to-day basis.  I'm a professor these days (relatively low danger), but I've worked in factories and warehouses to pay for my education.  All those factories and warehouses have shuttered their doors, meaning that I and my coworkers are (if we're lucky) working in less hazardous professions.  

        My situation certainly isn't the same as going from "professional grizzly wrangler" to "indolent personally-wealthy porch-sitter", but I'm sure that the danger associated with particular types of jobs and the loss of those types of jobs throws a wrench into a simple "X jobs vs. Y deaths" comparison.

        You think it's hot? Imagine what it would be like if global warming really existed!

        by JSc on Mon Apr 28, 2014 at 08:19:41 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I read that 7 people were injured over the weekend (8+ / 0-)

    in an explosion in one of the Koch's Georgia Pacific plants in Texas.  I think four of them were in critical condition.  Ironic that this happened at a firm headed by those who  strongly oppose regulation.  Rick Perry's state seems to have more than it's fair share of explosions.

    •  here ya go: (7+ / 0-)

      explosion at plyboard plant in East Texas.

      I'm part of the "bedwetting bunch of website Democrat base people (DKos)." - Rush Limbaugh, 10/16/2012 Torture is Wrong! We live near W so you don't have to. Send love.

      by tom 47 on Mon Apr 28, 2014 at 01:29:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The article said that the explosion occurred (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        nomandates, LinSea, redwagon, tom 47

        around the chip dryer...a source of potential combustible wood dust.

        Another big hazard in forest product plants is the plywood or waterboard press area, which release a lot of sticky particular matter that can lead to a fire in exhaust ducts and around the press area.

        Waferboard/plywood presses use hot oil for heating, and fires can also result from oil leaks.

        •  Way more than I know about the process (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          or the hazards.  I once visited a lumber and plyboard mill in Roseburg, Oregon, when I was about 10 or 11, in 1965 or 66.  I recall being impressed with spinning the logs to cut the "ply", and the thickness of the "blanket" of chips/scraps (4 to 6 inches?) before it went through the press to emerge at 1/2", 3/4" or whatever the final product thickness was. I was also told pointed but undetailed stories of those who had fallen in the sawdust silo, or at least what would happen if one did.

          I think the mill is still there in Roseburg.

          I'm part of the "bedwetting bunch of website Democrat base people (DKos)." - Rush Limbaugh, 10/16/2012 Torture is Wrong! We live near W so you don't have to. Send love.

          by tom 47 on Mon Apr 28, 2014 at 06:45:26 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  One awful year I remember that (5+ / 0-)

    5 of my union brothers (International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 49), died on the job. One of those died on a job that I worked on, altho not while I was there.

    another year there was a terrible accident were the skip failed and fell several stories, as I recall, 5 died, everyone in the skip. The guys had been complaining about the skip, but nothing was done. The operator of the skip was from our union, and I knew him from the union meetings.

    Roger Carlson, speaking in the video is a great guy, and did a lot to make this memorial happen:

    God spare me the Heart to fight them... I'll fight the Pirates forever. -Mother Jones

    by JayRaye on Mon Apr 28, 2014 at 02:16:31 PM PDT

  •  Want agood educational film about (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nomandates, Meteor Blades, LinSea

    occupational health and safety?

    You can't go wrong with "Song of the Canary" -- a two part film.

    The first part deals with workers going sterile at a dibromochloropropane production plant in California.

    The second part deals with brown lung disease in cotton textile workers.

  •  Workplace Safety Is An Obscenity to Corporate (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hester, birdboy2000



    So is environmental protection.

    Until there is prison time for top executives and corporate board members whose criminally negligent shortcuts on safety to maximize profits resulting in the murder of workers, nothing will change.
    (SEE Massey Energy's CEO Don Blankenship and the Upper Big Branch coal mine in West Virginia that cost 29 coal miners their lives.)

    5000 to 6000 workers/year die on the job.
    (It has been that way for a long time.)

    50,000+ workers/year are maimed/permanently disabled on the job.
    (It has gotten worse over the decades of deregulation of corporate Amerika.)

    Corporate mismanagement views workers as disposable/expendable/replaceable.

    EOE -- l/i/e.

  •  Breakdown by state and region? (0+ / 0-)

    I suspect we'd see higher rates of worker injuries in the South and Southwest where lawmakers and politicians are anti-safety regulation.

    Texas, for example, never learned the lesson of the worst industrial explosions in US history, both of which took place in Texas. With its opposition to unions and work safety regulations, Texas is one explosion after another waiting to happen.

    The town of West, Texas, literally blew up with the same fertilizer that blew up the federal building in Oklahoma by homegrown terrorists; and that same fertilizer took out Texas City in 1947 with 500+ dead and thousands injured, homes, businesses, a ship, and chemical plant obliterated.

    Did Texas learn? No, that kind of anti-regulation attitude led to the West, Texas fertilizer explosion.

    The South and Southwest did not learn the lessons of the past and is therefore destined to repeat them. And if they did learn, misleaders like Rick Perry and Haley Barbour and Rick Scott, who are unaffected, don't care.

  •  how much of the drop in recent years has to do (0+ / 0-)

    With the recession?

  •  We'll spend limitless money to avenge terrorism (0+ / 0-)

    But god forbid we do anything but the bare minimum to prevent a death toll that matches 9/11 every 6-7 months or so.

    Maybe some of these deaths are inevitable, but far too many are not, and this country should treat workplace death through negligence with all the serious it does terrorism or violent crime.  A few corner-cutters serving life sentences and stepping up funding to make sure that OSHA inspection is a when, not an if, and that violations will be punished severely could go a long way.

    This is a national scandal, and it's time to treat it like one.

  •  2001 (0+ / 0-)

    I apologize if this is crass, but shouldn't there be a huge spike in 2001?

  •  Death (0+ / 0-)

    The saddest things I know are a woman dying in childbirth, and someone dying at work.

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