May 8, 2013. According to a new AFL-CIO report, Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect, 148 workers were killed in North Carolina in 2011 with a rate of 3.7 deaths per 100,000 workers. Nationally, North Carolina ranks 25th where 1 would be the best and 50 would be the worst. Due to lack of staffing it would take the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 59 years to inspect each workplace in the North Carolina once.
The report notes that in 2011, there were 4,693 workplace deaths due to traumatic injuries and more than 3.8 million workers across all industries, including state and local government, who experienced work-related illnesses and injuries. As a comparison point, in 2010, 4,690 people died on the job. For the past three years, after years of steady decline the job fatality rate has essentially been unchanged, with a rate of 3.5/100,000 workers in 2011. Similarly for past two years there has been no change in the reported workplace injury and illness rate (3.5 per 100 workers), indicating that greater efforts are needed for continued progress in reducing job injuries and deaths.
The AFL-CIO report features profiles of workers’ safety and health in each state and includes national information on workplace illnesses, injuries and fatalities as well
as the number and frequency of workplace inspections, penalties, funding, staffing, and public employee coverage under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act). The report also addresses delays in the rule-making process and emerging hazards such as pandemic flu and other infectious diseases. The report finds that in the face of an ongoing assault on regulations by business groups and Republicans in Congress, progress on many new important safety and health rules has stalled. The White House Office of Management and Budget has delayed needed protections including OSHA’s draft proposed silica rule which has been held up for more than 2 years.
“Too many people are dying on the job right here in North Carolina and a lot of work still needs to be done to ensure that no worker fears for his or her health and well being on the job,” said North Carolina AFL-CIO President James Andrews. “When severe cuts to jobless benefits go into effect July 1, the pressure to not speak up against dangers at work for fear of losing their job will be even greater. It is a reminder that good jobs are about more than the absence of physical danger. Good jobs empower workers to demand safe workplaces, dignity, good wages, healthcare, and opportunities to grow and to give back to one’s community.”
Read the full report at www.aflcio.org/death-on-the-job.