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Magpie is a former journalist, attempted historian [No, you can't ask how her thesis is going], and full-time corvid of the lesbian persuasion. She keeps herself in birdseed by writing those bad computer manuals that you toss out without bothering to read them. She also blogs too much when she's not on deadline, both here and at Pacific Views.

Magpie roosts in Portland, Oregon, where she annoys her housemates (as well as her cats Medea, Whiskers, and Jane Doe) by attempting to play Irish music on the fiddle and concertina.

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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Death on the job.

2006 Workers Memorial Day posterTomorrow, April 28th, is Workers Memorial Day in the US. Since 1989, it has been a day for remembering the lives of who've died while on their jobs. For the last 15 years, the AFL-CIO has marked the day by issuing a report on workplace health and safety called Death on the Job. This year's report has just come out and, sadly, its contents are as grim as usual.

Here's part of the introduction:

Since 1970, when the OSH Act was passed, workplace safety and health conditions have improved. Unfortunately, as demonstrated by the Sago mine disaster in January 2006, too many workers remain at risk, and face death, injury or disease as a result of their jobs.

Progress in protecting workers? safety and health is slowing, and for some groups of workers jobs are becoming more dangerous. The most recent job fatality data (2004) show an increase in fatal workplace injuries with 5,703 fatal injuries reported in 2004, including significant increases in fatalities among Hispanic and foreign-born workers. As the economy, the workforce and hazards are changing, we are falling further and further behind in our efforts to protect workers from new and existing problems.

Under the Bush administration, regulatory activity at both the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has ground to a halt. Important standards close to completion at the end of the Clinton administration? including a standard on employer payment for personal protective equipment?have been withdrawn or delayed repeatedly by the Bush administration. Overall, dozens of OSHA and MSHA standards were pulled from the administration?s regulatory agenda, including MSHA standards on mine rescue teams, self contained self rescue devices and escape ways and refuges which may have helped to prevent the fatalities at the Sago mine disaster.

New and emerging hazards, including risks to workers from bioterrorist threats and pandemic
flu, are not being adequately addressed.

The dollar amounts of both federal and state OSHA penalties and MSHA penalties are woefully inadequate.

As we did when last year's report came out, I'm going to crib from Jordan Barab's post on the report at his blog Confined Space [which is by far the best blog on worker's health and safety there is]. Since Barab spent 16 years running AFSCME's health and safety program, he knows what he's talking about.
  • 5,703 workers were killed in the workplace due to traumatic injuries in 2004, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is an increase from the number of deaths in 2003, when 5,575 workplace deaths were reported. The rate of fatal injuries was 4.1 per 100,000 workers in 2004 compared to 4.0 per 100,000 workers in 2003, a 2 percent increase. The increase in the fatality rate in 2004 was the first increase in the national fatality rate since 1994.

  • Fatalities among foreign-born and native born Hispanic workers increased in 2004. Fatalities among Hispanic workers increased by 11 percent over 2003, with 883 fatalities among this group of workers. The rate of fatal injuries to Hispanic or Latino workers increased from 4.5 per 100,000 workers in 2003 to 4.9 per 100,000 workers in 2004, a 9 percent increase. The fatality rate among Hispanic or Latino workers in 2004 was 19 percent higher than the fatal injury rate for all U.S. workers.

  • 4.3 million injuries and illnesses were reported in private-sector workplaces in 2004, a slight decrease from 4.4 million in 2003. The manufacturing sector had the most injuries, accounting for 22 percent of the total, while health care and social assistance workers accounted for 16 percent of injuries and illnesses, followed by the retail trade at 15%.

  • There were over 400,000 musculoskeletal disorder cases (back, shoulder, wrist pain and disability) in 2004, again accounting for nearly one-third of all injuries and illnesses involving days away from work. (Note that OSHA has estimated that for every MSD reported, there is another that was not reported.)

There's a lot more detail on the report in Barab's full post, which I highly suggest you go read.

You can read the full Death on the Job report here, or download a PDF file containing the report here.

Via Confined Space.

| | Posted by Magpie at 12:00 AM | Get permalink

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