Bet you didn’t know it was a holiday today. According to the United Nations, this “annual international campaign to promote safe, healthy and decent work … is held on 28 April and has been observed by the International Labour Organization (ILO) since 2003.”
For example, over in Islamabad today, they’re celebrating “the prevention of occupational accidents and diseases globally.”
Here in the U.S., we’d better get moving on that. The AFL-CIO’s new Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect study, which came out yesterday, found once again that “an average of 150 workers are killed each day” in the United States. Or more specifically, ”4,821 employees were killed while working in 2014, while another 50,000 died from occupational diseases contracted over the years."
Let’s “drill down” (no pun intended) into some of these figures.
- “There were 144 deaths in oil and gas in 2014 – the highest number of fatalities ever.
- The fatality rate for oil and gas extraction was 15.6 per 100,000 workers, nearly 5 times the national ”
And some other fun facts:
- “In 2014, Latino workers continued to be at increased risk of dying on the job, with a job fatality rate that is 9% greater than the overall job fatality rate of 3.4 per 100,000 workers.
- The construction industry was responsible for the greatest number of Latino worker deaths (233).… Latino immigrant worker deaths in the construction industry have increased 32% since 2010.”
And if you think that’s the worst of it, consider this: “While government statistics show that occupational injury and illness are declining, numerous studies have shown that government counts of occupational injury and illness are underestimated by as much as 69%.”
If money’s your thing, consider this too: “The cost of occupational injuries and deaths in the United States is staggering, estimated at $250 billion to $370 billion a year, according to two recent studies.”
The AFL also notes,
A 2015 report by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration—“Adding Inequality to Injury: The Costs of Failing to Protect Workers on the Job”—outlined how work-related injuries have devastating impacts on workers and their families. According to the report, workers who are injured on the job suffer great economic loss. Even after receiving workers’ compensation benefits, injured workers’ incomes are, on average, nearly $31,000 lower over 10 years than if they had not suffered an injury. [footnotes omitted]
One of the major contributors to the severe loss of income is the gross deficiencies and inequities in the workers’ compensation system, which continues to be governed by 50 different state laws. A 2015 multipart series by Pro Publica and National Public Radio (NPR) exposed the failure of the workers’ compensation system to provide fair and timely compensation for workers hurt on the job. The series—“Insult to Injury: America’s Vanishing Worker Protections”—was based on a yearlong investigation which found that over the last decade there has been a systematic effort by insurers and employers to weaken workers’ compensation benefits for injured workers. Since 2003, legislators in 33 states have passed legislation reducing benefits or limiting eligibility. … According to Pro Publica, all of these factors have contributed to the demolition of the workers’ compensation system and left injured workers and their families and society at large bearing the costs of their injuries. [footnotes omitted]
Definitely something to think about as you celebrate World Day for Safety and Health at Work Day.