Death on the Job: 2017 Fatality Numbers Released

Jordan Barab

Jordan Barab Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor, OSHA

The Bureau of Labor Statistics today released its 2017 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries— and it contained good news and bad news. 

The good news is that workplace fatalities fell slightly, less than 1% last year from 5,190 fatal injuries reported in 2016 to 5,147 last year. The fatality rate also declined slightly from 3.6 to 3.5 deaths per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers.

That bad news is that still means more than 14 workers are killed on the job every day in this country (in addition to the roughly 135 who die each day from diseases related to work like silicosis, black lung and asbestos-related disease.)

According to the AFL-CIO’s Peg Seminario,

Today’s sobering report comes at a time when the number of Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspectors is at the lowest point in decades and the Mine Safety and Health Administration inspection force has dwindled. 

Instead of increasing life-saving measures aimed at protecting working people at their workplaces, the Trump administration is rolling back existing safety and health rules and has failed to move forward on any new safety and health protections.

Most of these job deaths were preventable, caused by well-recognized hazards.

The other troubling parts of today’s report were:

  • The number of workers killed in falls climbed to their highest level in the 26-year history of the BLS survey, accounting for 887, or 17 percent of all worker deaths.
  • Workplace deaths involving confined spaces rose 15 percent to 166 in 2017 from 144 in 2016.
  • The number of older workers killed on the job — 65 and older — reached a new record. Fifteen percent of the fatally-injured workers in 2017 were age 65 or over. In 1992, the first year CFOI published national data, that figure was 8 percent. 
  • 258 farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers were killed in 2017 and almost two-thirds of those were age 65. Forty-eight were over 80 years old.
  • The number of workplace deaths among Hispanic or Latino workers rose 2.7% to 903 in 2017, after falling 3% last year.
  • Workplace violence deaths were down last year, but violence-related deaths remain the 3rd leading cause of death in the workplace.
  • Fatalities in health care and social services rose from 117 to 146, a 25% increase.
  • Workplace fatalities in the private mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction industry increased 26 percent to 112 in 2017. Fatalities in the industry had reached an all time low in 2016. Over 70 percent of these fatalities were incurred by workers in the oil and gas extraction industries.
  • Alaska and North Dakota had the highest fatality rates. North Dakota’s rose. The number of deaths in North Dakota rose 36% last year after dropping 40% last year.
  • Deaths from unintentional overdoses due to non-medical drugs or alcohol while at work increased 25 percent.  272 workers died on the job last year from accidental overdoses, a staggering 318 percent increase since 2012 when only 65 unintentional overdose deaths were reported. This was the fifth consecutive year that unintentional workplace overdose deaths increased by at least 25 percent.

Other good news includes

  • Crane-related workplace fatalities fell to their lowest level ever, possibly due to OSHA’s release of its Cranes and Derricks standard several years ago.
  • The number of workers killed getting caught in running equipment or machinery declined 26.2%. to 76 deaths.

And according to OSHA:

“While today’s report shows a decline in the number of workplace fatalities, the loss of even one worker is too many,” said Loren Sweatt, Acting Assistant Secretary for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). “Through comprehensive enforcement and compliance assistance that includes educating job creators about their responsibilities under the law, and providing robust education opportunities to workers, OSHA is committed to ensuring the health and safety of the American workforce.”

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Reposted from Confined Space

Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Association of Letter Carriers

From the AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Name of Union: National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)

Mission: To unite fraternally all city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service for their mutual benefit; to obtain and secure rights as employees of the USPS and to strive at all times to promote the safety and the welfare of every member; to strive for the constant improvement of the Postal Service; and for other purposes. NALC is a single-craft union and is the sole collective-bargaining agent for city letter carriers.

Current Leadership of Union: Fredric V. Rolando serves as president of NALC, after being sworn in as the union's 18th president in 2009. Rolando began his career as a letter carrier in 1978 in South Miami before moving to Sarasota in 1984. He was elected president of Branch 2148 in 1988 and served in that role until 1999. In the ensuing years, he worked in various roles for NALC before winning his election as a national officer in 2002, when he was elected director of city delivery. In 2006, he won election as executive vice president. Rolando was re-elected as NALC president in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Brian Renfroe serves as executive vice president, Lew Drass as vice president, Nicole Rhine as secretary-treasurer, Paul Barner as assistant secretary-treasurer, Christopher Jackson as director of city delivery, Manuel L. Peralta Jr. as director of safety and health, Dan Toth as director of retired members, Stephanie Stewart as director of the Health Benefit Plan and James W. “Jim” Yates as director of life insurance.

Number of Members: 291,000 active and retired letter carriers.

Members Work As: City letter carriers.

Industries Represented: The United States Postal Service.

History: In 1794, the first letter carriers were appointed by Congress as the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution was being put into effect. By the time of the Civil War, free delivery of city mail was established and letter carriers successfully concluded a campaign for the eight-hour workday in 1888. The next year, letter carriers came together in Milwaukee and the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work