A ten-year spike in workplace deaths is unacceptable and calls for urgent action, the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH) said today.
“As we prepare to gather with our families this holiday season, everyone who is committed to workplace safety will be thinking about the 5,250 U.S. workers who will never see their loved ones again,” said Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, co-executive director of National COSH.
The highest death toll in ten years
On December 17, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its annual Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) for 2018, showing a two percent rise in deaths from workplace trauma over the previous year. These 5,250 fatalities represent the highest death toll in ten years.
“We’re thinking of the real women and men behind these heartbreaking statistics,” said Goldstein-Gelb “This tragic loss of life is preventable – and totally unacceptable."
“When employers provide the resources for state of the art controls and utilize the knowledge of the workforce, workplace hazards will be reduced and eliminated,” said Peter Dooley, safety and health project consultant at National COSH. “Implementing hazard control programs will mean more people can come home safely at the end of every shift.”
More fatalities among certain communities
Communities of color continue to pay a high price for the failure of their employers to implement safe workplace practices. Workplace fatalities among African-American workers increased by 16 percent in 2018, while deaths among Latinx workers were up by six percent.
The 12 percent rise in workplace deaths from drug overdoses is another sign of failure, said Goldstein-Gelb. “U.S. workers suffer too many preventable injuries on the job, and have too little access to high quality, affordable medical care,” she said.
“National COSH and the worker safety community will fight to end unacceptable and preventable deaths on the job,” said Dooley. “Employers must follow their legal and moral obligation to provide safe workplaces – and our society at all levels must hold them accountable when neglect, indifference and illegal behavior claim the lives of women and men who came to work, not to die.”
About National COSH
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. For more information, please visit NationalCOSH.org