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INZANE TIMES: A Workers Memorial Day Speech By Arnie Alpert

Workers Memorial Vigil, April 27, 2017, Concord NH

This is what I had to say at the Workers Memorial Day vigil sponsored by the NH Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health.

Four years ago, this past Monday a building in Bangladesh called “Rana Plaza” collapsed and came crashing down.

The building housed five garment factories which employed 5000 people.

Brands that were sourcing from the factories in Rana Plaza building include Benetton, Bon Marche, Cato Fashions, The Children’s Place, Walmart, and JC Penney.

The owners ignored warnings about the building’s structural flaws.

The workers did not have a union.

The laws were weak and unenforced.

When the building collapsed, one thousand one hundred and thirty-four workers lost their lives. Thousands more were injured.

The scale of the disaster was so large, and the capacity of NGOs like the International Labor Rights Forum and the Clean Clothes Campaign was strong enough, that even though the workers were unorganized it became possible to pressure the companies and the government to reach agreements for inspections, compensation for affected workers and families, and renovating factories to make them safer.

But workers in Bangladesh still face repression when they try to organize.

That makes reforms hard to defend, especially when workers are inter-changeable pieces in a global supply chain, thousands of miles away from the consumers of the products they make, and several corporate intermediaries away from the firms whose logos they sew onto the apparel they make.

That’s one reason why we need to stand together, as workers, as consumers, as citizens.

One hundred and thirty-one years ago next Monday, hundreds of thousands of American workers went on strike calling for an eight-hour day. (The eight-hour movement followed the earlier ten-hour movement, which was led largely by young women like New Hampshire’s Sara Bagley and conducted in places like Dover, Manchester, Exeter, and Lowell.)

In Chicago, at the same time, a strike was going on at the McCormick Reaper plant, whose owner was trying to replace workers with machines. Several days of protest followed the May Day strike. Police killed 2 strikers on May 3. During a rally the next day protesting killings by police, a bomb went off. No one ever knew who was responsible. Several police officers and strikers lost their lives in the violence.

To be brief, Albert Parsons and August Spies, leaders of the eight-hour movement, were blamed, tried, convicted, and executed, despite the lack of any evidence tying them to the violence. (Hanging, not injection of toxic chemicals, was the method used back then.)

The following year, May Day was observed in their honor throughout the world and became known as International Workers Day.

In this country, over the past decade or so, International Workers Day has become associated with protests, rallies, strikes, and marches led by immigrant workers. That includes this coming Monday in Manchester, 5 to 7 pm, in Veterans Park.

Why does this matter?

When immigrants are afraid to complain about the toxic chemicals they use to clean our schools or the excessive heat in bakeries, factories, and laundries, the rights of all workers to a safe workplace is threatened.

When immigrants can be scapegoated and threatened with loss of jobs, the rights of all workers are weakened.

When capital can cross borders with barely any restriction, but workers face walls and troops, we have to stand together.

When workers are so desperately poor that they will take jobs that put their lives at risk, we have to stand together.

When the number of people forced to flee their homes dues to violence, climate disruption, and economic desperation is at an all-time high, we have to stand together.

When xenophobic and nativist movements are on the rise the world over, we have to stand together.

When workers anywhere are afraid to organize, we have to stand together.

And when workers do organize, despite the fear, despite the risks, despite the threats, despite the scapegoating, we have to stand with them.

During Workers Memorial Week, we say, injustice anywhere is still a threat to justice everywhere.

We still say, an injury to one is an injury to all.

We still say, Solidarity forever.

– Arnie Alpert

Workers Pay The Price: National COSH Releases 2017 “Dirty Dozen” Employers

SAN DIEGO, CA – The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH) announced today “The Dirty Dozen” employers of 2017, highlighting companies that put workers and communities at risk due to unsafe practices. The Dirty Dozen 2017 report is being released in observance of Workers’ Memorial Week, honoring workers who lost their lives on the job, as well as those who suffered workplace injuries and illnesses.  

“Every day in the United States, workers are getting hurt, getting sick and dying from preventable causes,” said Jessica Martinez, co-executive director of National COSH. “We know how to make our workplaces safer. We’re calling on these companies to implement effective health and safety programs including, which must include worker participation. These firms need to eliminate workplace hazards and take action so that every worker can return home safely at the end of his or her shift.”

The “Dirty Dozen” for 2017 are:

  1. Atlantic Drain Services Roslindale, MA: Two workers died in a trench; manslaughter indictments; new Boston ordinance to revoke permits for companies with poor safety records.
  2. California Cartage Long Beach, CA: Death of a driver; serious violations in GA and CA; lack of machine safeguards, faulty brakes and other hazards.
  3. Dedicated TCS Lansing, IL: Worker died inside a confined space; company cited three times for similar violations; $226,000 in OSHA fines.
  4. Dollar General Goodlettsville, TN: “A fire disaster waiting to happen”; over 100 citations and $1 million in fines for blocked exits; former Labor Dept. official calls for criminal prosecution.
  5. Environmental Enterprises, Inc. Spring Grove, OH: Worker killed in a chemical explosion; OSHA describes a “complete disregard for employee’s safety”; indictment for involuntary manslaughter and reckless homicide.
  6. Fuyao Glass America Dayton, OH: Workers exposed to broken glass without proper protection; 23 serious OSHA violations; extensive complaints from workers, who are exposed to risk of amputation.
  7. Nissan USA Franklin, TN: Five workers dead in five years; $99,000 in proposed OSHA fines; workers say they fear losing their jobs if they report injuries.
  8. Pilgrim’s Pride Greeley, Colorado: Death in a poultry processing plant; worker loses fingers because management “did nothing” to address amputation risk; exposure to toxic ammonia.
  9. PrimeFlight Nashville, Tennessee: Exposure to blood borne pathogens; 22 OSHA violations in three years; OSHA cites conditions “likely to cause death or serious harm.”
  10. TransAm Trucking Olathe, Kansas: “Frozen Trucker” fired for protecting his own safety; company wages seven-year court battle; Worker wins $280K in back pay.
  11. Samsung Seoul, South Korea: 200+ serious illnesses, 76 deaths; refusal to disclose information, claiming “trade secrets”; secret plan to “dominate employees” and “punish leaders.”
  12. Valley Garlic Coalinga, CA; X-Treme AG Kerman, CA: Four migrant workers dead after crash of illegal transport van; U.S. Dept of Labor lawsuit; contractor enjoined from transporting agricultural workers.

“The dangerous conditions at these “Dirty Dozen” companies show why we need more enforcement of our safety laws, not less,” said Jordan Barab, former deputy assistant secretary for occupational safety and health at the U.S. Department of Labor. “Proposed budget cuts for OSHA and other safety agencies are penny wise and pound foolish. Preventing injuries, illnesses and fatalities in the workplace not only reduces a terrible toll of human suffering – it also saves billions of dollars for employers and taxpayers.”

Data presented in the National COSH “Dirty Dozen” report show that the decline in deaths from workplace trauma since the original Occupational Safety and Health Act was passed in 1970 are reducing costs to employers and taxpayers by over $200 billion a year. If workers were still dying at the rate experienced in 1970 – 18 per 100,000 full-time workers, as opposed to 3.4 per 100,000 in 2015 – the U.S. workforce would experience more than an additional 23,000 deaths per year. Each workplace death costs a projected $8.7 million in legal and medical expenses, lost productivity and other costs.

During the last two years, however, deaths from workplace trauma have increased significantly, from 4,585 deaths in 2013 to 4,836 deaths in 2015, demonstrating the urgent need for stronger and more effective safety measures. In addition, Latino/a workers continue to suffer a higher rate of workplace fatalities than other ethnic groups, with four deaths for every 100,000 full-time employees.

Intimidation by employers is a major obstacle to accurate reporting injuries and workplace safety hazards, making it more difficult to correct unsafe conditions. “At Nissan, I’ve seen workers hurt so bad they are crying, but they are afraid to report their injuries,” said Everlyn Cage, a former employee at Nissan USA in Canton, MS. “They saw what happened to other workers and they are afraid of losing their jobs.”

The tragic events outlined in the “Dirty Dozen” report can also be a catalyst for action, said Jeff Newton, Membership and Communications Coordinator at the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (MassCOSH). “We’re going to remember Kelvin Mattocks and Robert Higgins during Workers’ Memorial Week,” said Newton. “And we’ve also taken action to prevent further tragedies. From now on in Boston, construction firms with poor safety records are not just putting workers at risk – they’re at risk of losing their building permits.”

Mattocks and Higgins drowned in a trench in Boston last October when their employer, Atlantic Drain, failed to follow basic safety precautions. The city of Boston responded with a new ordinance tightening requirements for construction firms. The state of Massachusetts is considering legislation to increase penalties for work-related fatalities and Atlantic Drain and its owner, Kevin Otto, have been indicted for manslaughter.

The Dirty Dozen report includes recommendations to make U.S. workplaces safer, including:

  • Implementation of comprehensive workplace health and safety programs
  • Ensuring all workers the right to freely organize
  • Stronger protections for workers of color, immigrants, temporary workers and other vulnerable populations
  • Thorough investigation of workplace safety and health incidents and stronger enforcement mechanisms to hold employers accountable and deter future violations.

The “Dirty Dozen 2017” report is available on the National COSH website here and below.

Workers Memorial Week infographics are available in English here and in Spanish here.

Workers’ Memorial Week is a global event to honor workers who lost their lives on the job and their families, and also recognizing those who suffer from occupational injuries and illnesses. In the United States, dozens of activities in 35 states will remember fallen workers. A listing of events is available on the National COSH website.  

DirtyDozenFINAL 04_26

Presidential Proclamation — Workers Memorial Day, 2016

Image from Whitehouse.gov

Image from Whitehouse.gov

A PROCLAMATION BY THE PRESIDENT
OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

WORKERS MEMORIAL DAY, 2016

The story of America is the story of its workers. With faith in one another and hope for what their country could be, generations of laborers fought, sacrificed, and organized for the rights and protections that workers across our Nation have today — including requirements to protect their health and safety. Today, we honor this legacy by reflecting on those who have lost their lives in the workplace, and we reaffirm our dedication to ensuring that people can work knowing the fullest measure of stability, security, and opportunity.

In 1969 and 1970, two pieces of legislation of enormous consequence forever changed the lives of workers across our Nation. Passed by a Democratic Congress and signed by a Republican President, the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act — which required Federal inspections of coal mines, established processes and protections for ensuring the health and safety of coal miners, and was later amended to cover all miners — and the Occupational Safety and Health Act — which created new standards for worker protections in industries across America — represented milestone achievements for a cause borne out of decades of toil and struggle. Spurred by working men and women of every origin and background, the movement for worker safety was inspired by a simple notion: that those who contribute so much to the economy and spirit of our country should have every chance to share in its promise.

Since I took office, my Administration has advanced protections for America’s workers. In 2014, I signed an Executive Order aimed at cracking down on Federal contractors who violate our labor laws, and in the time since, we have enhanced our rigorous processes for companies contracting with the Federal Government while working to enforce and raise standards for employers throughout our economy. We have implemented rules that cut the amount of coal dust inhaled by coal miners, and we have taken steps to protect more workers from diseases caused by exposure to silica and other harmful substances. And we will enhance our efforts to support workers injured on the job, because if you are hurt at the workplace after giving your all, you should still be able to keep food on the table.

The history of America’s workers reminds us that, far from being inevitable, the progress each generation has known has been the result of the courage, determination, and solidarity demonstrated by the last. This Workers Memorial Day, as we join in solemn remembrance of those who lost their lives undertaking their labor, let us carry forward the vision of just and safe working conditions for all of America’s workers. If we stay true to that essential mission, we can deliver to our children and grandchildren a future of ever greater possibility and security.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim April 28, 2016, as Workers Memorial Day. I call upon all Americans to participate in ceremonies and activities in memory of those killed or injured due to unsafe working conditions.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-seventh day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand sixteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fortieth.

BARACK OBAMA

Workers Memorial Day Commemorated Across the Country as We Fight for Better Workplace Safety Standards

Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on Workers Memorial Day:

150 workers die every day AFLCIOToday, on Workers Memorial Day, we take time to commemorate all those who lost their lives while on the job. We reflect on how far we have come in making workplaces safer and healthier, and how much farther we still have to go to ensure all working people have the necessary workplace protections. As a third-generation coal miner, I know the fear of not knowing if your loved one is coming home at the end of the day. This is a fear no family should have to endure.

As we remember those we have lost, we continue to fight for those we work with today. For example, millions of workers across the country can breathe easier now that the new OSHA silica rules have been issued. The new rules are the most significant OSHA standards in decades and will save thousands of lives. But even these advances are not enough. We will continue to demand stronger job safety standards for all working people until every workplace is safer and healthier and every working person has the protections they deserve.


exposure-fatalities-2016

Image from National COSH’s latest report Death on the Job

Over the last couple of days a number of reports have come out highlighting the need for stronger workplace safety regulations and ways to reduce the number of workplace deaths.   Below are links to a few of the most recent reports and a few posts inspired by Workers Memorial Day to remember those we have lost.

  1. 150 Workers Die Every Day From Preventable Workplace Injuries And Illnesses – AFL- CIO Report.  http://nhlabornews.com/2016/04/52384/ 
  2. National COSH: Over 100K Workplace Deaths Can Be Prevented – National COSH Report http://nhlabornews.com/2016/04/52389/ 
  3. (LEO W GERARD) GOP: It’s OK for Corporations to Kill Workers – USW President Blog Post http://nhlabornews.com/2016/04/leo-w-gerard-gop-its-ok-for-corporations-to-kill-workers/
  4. Terry O’Sullivan: The Cost of Going to Work Should Never Be Death or Injury  – LIUNA President http://nhlabornews.com/2016/04/terry-osullivan-the-cost-of-going-to-work-should-never-be-death-or-injury/

Terry O’Sullivan: The Cost of Going to Work Should Never Be Death or Injury

(Terry O'Sullivan is the General President of the Laborers International Union of North America - LiUNA)

(Terry O’Sullivan is the General President of the Laborers International Union of North America – LiUNA)

As the April 28th Workers Memorial Day commemoration approaches, we can proudly highlight what we can accomplish when we have the best training programs and the right safety regulations in place.

Nationwide, workplace deaths and injuries have trended dramatically downward. For example, in 1970, 38 workers died from workplace-related causes each day. In 2014, the most recent statistic available, that number fell to 13. Workplace-related illnesses and injuries have fallen as well, from 10.9 incidents for every 100 workers to 3.2 incidents per 100 workers.

It’s good news, but not good enough. Despite our progress, the fact remains that 750 workers are expected to lose their lives this year on construction jobsites. Injuries resulting in lost work time are expected to number 75,000.

Let’s honor the brothers and sisters we have lost by commemorating Workers Memorial Day and saying loudly and clearly that the cost of going to work each day should never be death or injury on the job. I invite every LIUNA member to help send this message by joining a week-long conversation about safety for workers on LIUNA’s Facebook page starting on April 25.

As union workers, we know that with the proper safety training, effective temp-post-imagesafety programs on jobsites and a workforce free to speak out about hazards, most deaths and injuries are preventable. That’s why we make training and safety programs a cornerstone of union construction sites. In fact, according to a University of Michigan study, states with high union membership have construction fatality rates 50 percent lower than states with low union membership.

We still have work to do to reduce risks ranging from traffic hazards in highway work zones, to the lack of fall prevention on building construction sites, to inadequate safety equipment to prevent illnesses that are all too common in our industry.

As we approach Workers Memorial Day, let’s build on our accomplishments and fight for safe jobs so that every worker returns safely home at the end of a workday.

Learn more at www.liuna.org/tmo

150 Workers Die Every Day From Preventable Workplace Injuries And Illnesses


150 workers die every day AFLCIO
(Washington, DC, April 27, 2016)More than 4,820 workers were killed on the job in 2014, according to a new report by the AFL-CIO. Additionally an estimated 50,000-60,000 died from occupational diseases, resulting in a daily loss of nearly 150 workers from preventable workplace injuries and illnesses.

“Working people should not have to risk their lives to make a living and support their families,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “Yet every day, millions of Americans are forced to work with little to no safety protections while big businesses and corporations profit off our lives.”  

Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect, marks the 25th year the AFL-CIO has publishednational findings on the safety and health conditions for working people.Among other findings:

  • The report calls attention to an increase in fatalities among older workers.
  • The states with the highest fatality rates were Wyoming, North Dakota, Alaska, South Dakota and Mississippi.
  • In 2014, 804 Latino workers lost their lives on the job and the fatality rate for Latino workers remains higher than the national rate.
  • Workplace violence injuries, particularly among women workers in health care, is a serious problem. The workplace violence injury rate has increased by 60% over the past five years, while the overall job injury rate has declined.

Oversight of job safety and health conditions remains weak and is getting worse in certain ways.  OSHA can now inspect a workplace on average only once every 145 years, compared with once every 84 years in 1992, when the AFL-CIO issued its first report. The average penalty for serious violations last year was only $2,148 and the median penalty for worker deaths was only $7,000.

DOTJ16_fb4b_UnionDensityStatesSafer“We have made important progress, including winning new OSHA silica standards to protect workers from deadly dust,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “But as this report shows, too many employers are cutting corners and workers are paying the highest price. We must keep working for stronger laws and enforcement to hold employers accountable, until all working people are safe on the job.” said Trumka.

Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect is being released in conjunction withWorkers Memorial Day when vigils, rallies, and actions are being held across the country to remember workers killed and injured on the job. The report can be found online here: aflcio.org/death-on-the-job.

 

Leo W Gerard: The Words Of Dead Workers

Houston Oil Refinery (Dan DeLuca FLICKR)

 Oil Refinery (Dan DeLuca FLICKR)

To give voice to 35 workers killed on the job over the past 35 years at a massive refinery in Texas City, hundreds of surviving family members, co-workers and friends gathered there last month to erect white crosses marked with their names.

They conducted the ceremony on the 10th anniversary of an explosion that killed 15 workers and injured more than 170, including townspeople.

Marathon Petroleum Corp., which bought the refinery from BP two years ago, did its best to shut the mourners up. Marathon uprooted the crosses and tossed them in a box like trash within hours of the commemoration.

For years during contract negotiations, the United Steelworkers (USW) union has pressed ungodly profitable oil companies to improve safety. This fell mostly on deaf ears. On Feb. 1, USW refinery workers began loudly voicing this demand by striking over unfair labor practices (ULP). Ultimately 7,000 struck 15 refineries. Within six weeks, all but five oil corporations settled.  Marathon is a hold out. It wants to cut safety personnel. It does not want to hear about dead workers.

2015-04-26-1430069417-580361-BPcrossesintrash.jpg

Yet the (ULP) strike is about dead workers. Over the past five years, at refineries nationwide that employ USW members, 27 workers have died – incinerated, gassed or crushed to death. And the peril of refineries spills into communities. In Texas City at the refinery owned by BP in 2005, flying glass from windows shattered in the explosion injured townspeople. In the first six weeks of this year, explosions occurred at three refineries, closing streets, raining eye-irritating white ash on neighborhoods and forcing residents to shelter indoors for hours.

As the USW strike over unfair labor practices drags on in Texas City at what is now called the Marathon Petroleum Corp. Galveston Bay Refinery, USW members feel Marathon’s demands for reduced safety measures indicate the corporation refuses to hear the cautionary tales of the facility’s deadly past. Brandi Sanders, treasurer for the local union there and a 10-year veteran maintenance worker, told me that it is as if Marathon believes the 2005 explosion and the 20 other deaths since 1980 don’t exist because they didn’t occur on Marathon’s watch.

“But the union does not want to go back. We lived through those experiences. And we learned from that history. And we should not be forced to repeat it,” Sanders said.

That was the reason for the candlelight ceremony on March 23. To make those deaths real for Marathon managers who did not experience them in the visceral way that co-workers and families and neighbors did.

The mourners marked each of the 35 crosses with the name of a worker killed at the nation’s fifth largest refinery since 1980, which is the year of the last nationwide strike at refineries. A bagpiper played “Amazing Grace” as the participants, holding candles aloft in the dark, marched two blocks from the local union hall to the refinery. They wanted to place the crosses on the site where the workers had lost their lives.

But police officers blocked their path. Marathon had called the cops. Marathon refused to acknowledge the tragic anniversary, even with a moment of silence at the refinery as BP had done annually. And it wouldn’t allow a commemoration by anyone else on its property either.

The officers permitted the mourners to erect the white markers in a median strip along the highway, as often is done by family and friends of car crash victims. The ceremony participants called out each name, tolled a bell and placed the marker. Tears flowed.

Just a few hours later, picketers saw managers leave the plant, descend on the memorial in the darkness and rip each of the 35 crosses out of the ground.

Larry Burchfield, a member of the USW’s National Oil Bargaining Policy Committee and a machinist at the refinery for 20 years while it was owned first by Amoco, then BP and now Marathon, told me that disrespect Marathon showed for the dead is the same disregard Marathon shows for the living.

If Marathon valued the lives of workers, the corporation wouldn’t try to save a couple of bucks by eliminating the safety measures put in place to preserve workers’ lives after the 2005 explosion, Burchfield said. “Marathon’s safety policies are called life critical policies,” he told me, “But your life is not so critical when it is going to affect Marathon’s bottom line.”

Marathon’s “it wasn’t me; it was BP” reasoning for downgrading safety just doesn’t cut it. Don Holmstrom, director of the Western Regional Office of the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB), explained why in an interview with the Galveston County Daily News for a story on the anniversary of the 2005 blast.

“I think it is sad to report that not enough appears to have been learned, and the problem persists. It is not a BP problem. Although the incident occurred at (BP’s) Texas City refinery, there is an industry problem,” said Holmstrom, who was theCSB’s lead investigator into the 2005 blast.

Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) Assistant Administrator Jordan Barab said of recent refinery explosions, “each repeated a lesson that the industry should have already learned.”

Marathon is no outlier, operating in perfect safety. Numerous problems have occurred at the plant since Marathon took over. An explosion and fire at the refinery on Feb. 21 last year critically injured Oscar Garcia, who was employed by a company Marathon contracted to perform work on the site. Garcia has sued Marathon for negligence. The refinery released more than 128,000 pounds of silica and alumina oxide into surrounding communities in two incidents this year. Several fires have occurred since the strike began, including two within 24 hours witnessed by picketing workers.

After the BP explosion, the CSB and others recommended refineries refrain from placing personnel in temporary facilities near volatile units, especially during shut downs and startups. Many of those killed in the BP explosion were in temporary trailers during a unit start up. Despite that, within the past year, Marathon erected three lunch tents during a repair cycle on the same ground where bodies and debris had been hauled away after the 2005 blast.

Not one of the 1,100 USW members who work for Marathon has crossed the picket line. They’ve gone without pay for nearly three months because they know what’s at stake: their lives.

In another attempt to help Marathon hear that, workers replanted the 35 white crosses in a long line in front of the union hall. They managed to get them back from Marathon through the police department.

Tomorrow, on Workers’ Memorial Day, which commemorates those who have lost their lives on the job, the USW members will place a solar spotlight in front of each cross, to highlight the lives sacrificed when safety was compromised. Hopefully, that will open the eyes of Marathon managers who deliberately closed their ears to the words of dead workers.

Worker Safety Groups Release New U.S. Worker Fatality Database

More than 1,780 cases identified for 2014, likely one-third of total;
Data and accompanying maps can be sorted by state and industry 

LONGMEADOW, MA Observing Worker Memorial Day, a coalition of safety groups has released the U.S. Worker Fatality Database, with accompanying maps and infographics.  

The database, which shows the names, people and stories behind statistical reports of deaths on the job, is the largest open-access data set of individual workplace fatalities ever collected in the United States.

imageU.S.Worker Deaths by Industry,2014. Available through the map and infographic function of the U.S. Worker Fatality Database. Data can also be mapped by state.

“This Worker Memorial Day, we’re launching a unique, collaborative online database, with information about the lives – and the deaths – of workers who died on the job in 2014,” said Bethany Boggess of Global Worker Watch. “To prevent future tragedies, we need to know all we can about who died on the job, and under what circumstances.”

The U.S. Worker Fatality Database identifies more than 1,780 workplace fatalities in 2014, with additional data still being collected. Based on previous data, this is likely to represent over one-third of the total cases of workplace deaths from traumatic events for that year.

The final toll for 2013, released last week by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, is 4,585 deaths on the job from sudden traumatic events. An additional 50,000 workers are expected to die each year from long-term exposure to toxic chemicals and other occupational hazards.

The database is a joint effort of workplace safety groups and advocates, including:

  • National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH
  • AFL-CIO
  • Center for Construction Research and Training
  • Fe Y Justicia
  • Global Worker Watch
  • Knox Area Worker Memorial Day Committee
  • Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health  (MassCOSH)
  • Northeastern New York Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (NENYCOSH)
  • United Support and Memorial for Workplace Fatalities (USMWF)
  • Beyond OSHA Project

The U.S. Worker Fatality Database was created when workplace safety advocates, seeking information about workers killed in their state, region or local community, found that important details about these tragic cases were not consistently available.

The resulting database offers more specific detail than the annual Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries from the BLS, which reports aggregate statistics. The U.S. Worker Fatality Database includes, where available, the name of the deceased, employer, circumstances of death. It contains links to sources of public documents related to the incidents on how and where workers were killed, including OSHA reports and news media accounts.

The data can be sorted by age, gender, city, state, industry and keywords such as “fall elevation,” “electrocuted,”  “explosion” and other terms linked to the cause of death.

Using the accompanying map function on the Tableau Public platform, maps showing the incidence of fatalities can be zoomed and captured by industry and by individual states. These maps are licensed under Creative Commons, and can be modified, reproduced and redistributed, with credit to: U.S. Workers Fatality Database.

Workers Memorial Day, which coincides with the day the Occupational Safety and Health Act took effect in the United States in 1971, is part of a week-long series of activities across the country to honor workers who have died on the job and advocate for better safety protections. Workers Memorial Week is being observed this year in more than 100 local communities with vigils, rallies, marches and other events. A full listing is available on the National COSH website.


National COSH links the efforts of local worker health and safety coalitions in communities across the United States, advocating for elimination of preventable hazards in the workplace.  “Not an Accident: Preventable Deaths 2015,” a National COSH report, describes workplace fatalities in the United States and how they can be prevented. For more information, please visit coshnetwork.org.  Follow us at National Council for Occupational Safety and Health on Facebook, and @NationalCOSH on Twitter.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka On Workers’ Memorial Day

Safe-Jobs-Save-Lives-Poster_largeOn Workers Memorial Day we commemorate all those who have perished on the job. No worker should be exposed to fatal injuries and illnesses at work, yet every day 150 men and women die from a work injury or occupational disease. Their deaths remind us that Americans still – in 2015 — face too many dangers at the workplace.

As a third-generation coal miner, I am all too familiar with the fear and uncertainty of not knowing whether a loved one will come home safe and healthy from a day’s work.

As we mourn the dead we should remember to fight for the living. This year, our brothers and sisters from the United Steel Workers went on strike in February to highlight the need for tighter safety regulations at refineries across the country. During the strike, an explosion at an ExxonMobil refinery in California injured four workers and shook neighborhoods for miles around, reinforcing the need for corporations to do more to address refinery safety.

Mourn-For-The-Dead-Sticker_mediumWe also are deeply appreciative of the work done by health workers in the wake of the Ebola crisis, both abroad and at home. Hundreds of healthcare workers cared for the sick. Due to subpar protections offered by employers, many aid providers themselves fell ill with the disease. No one providing a service to the community should risk his or her life due to lack of effective protective gear.

While we have made great strides in making workplaces safer, too many hardworking people both in this country and around the world continue to be hurt or killed on the job.

Today and every day, we must strive to achieve safe workplaces for every worker and demand that lawmakers create good jobs that ensure the dignity and safety every worker deserves.

 

Statement by AFL-CIO President Trumka on “Workers Memorial Day”

Workers Memorial Day brings us together to remember the ultimate sacrifices working people make to achieve the American Dream. No worker should die on the job. Every one of the 150 working men and women who die every day from injury or occupational disease serve as a constant reminder of the dangers too many face at the workplace.

I saw those dangers myself as a third-generation coal miner, and I know the heartache that ripples through entire communities when one of our own dies.

As we keep those who have died in our thoughts and prayers, we should rededicate ourselves to holding companies accountable for putting profits over people, and we must demand stronger safety standards in the workplace.

Much has been done over the years to improve worker safety, but until every worker, from the farm to the factory, is guaranteed the peace of mind of a safe workplace, our job will never truly be done.

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