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National COSH releases "2014 Preventable Deaths: The Tragedy of Workplace Fatalities"

Educational ResourcesJust in time for Workers' Memorial Day (April 28), the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) has released its annual report on preventable deaths in the U.S. workplace.

How many workers died on the job in 2012 (the most recent year for which data is available)? According to the report, there were at least 4,383 deaths from sudden traumatic injuries in 2012 – a preliminary figure that is likely to increase when final data is released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics at the end of April.

Based on information from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI), OSHA, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), news sources and unions, the report contains details on how many workers die each year from long-term occupational illnesses (an estimated 53,000), the deaths which health experts say could be prevented by reducing workplace exposure to silica dust (an estimated 688), and recommendations to reduce occupational hazards:

  • Enhanced workplace safety and health programs
  • Stronger safety standards and regulations
  • Greater access to OSHA services in multiple languages
  • Allowing worker and community advocacy groups to file complaints
  • Stronger whistleblower protections
  • Providing public access to National Fatality Data
  • Strengthening and updating the OSHA law
  • Immigration reform

There are also case studies on individuals who were killed on the job, such as:

  • A farmworker in her 60s, crushed to death by a truck in an Arizona lettuce field.
  • A 27-year old cinematographer, killed by an oncoming train during a film shoot on a Georgia railroad bridge.
  • A 57-year old temp agency worker, caught in between and crushed by equipment at a warehouse in New Jersey.

“The people who lose their lives while trying to earn a living are not, in most cases, victims of random events or circumstance,” write the authors. “In fact, the dynamics of the hazards in contemporary workplaces are well understood. The risks of injury, illness and death can be reduced or eliminated with proper training, procedures, monitoring and documentation.”

Click here to read the report.

Click here to find Workers' Memorial Day events in your community.

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