AFL-CIO Report: 4,340 Workers Killed on the Job in 2009

In 2009, Montana led the country with the highest rate of worker fatalities, with Louisiana, North Dakota, Wyoming, and Nebraska following close behind. The lowest fatality rates were reported in New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Delaware.

The AFL-CIO's latest annual study, "Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect," says 4,340 workers died on the job in 2009, an average of 12 per day, and an estimated 50,000 died from occupational diseases, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

More than 4.1 million work-related injuries and illnesses were reported, but due to underreporting, the true toll of job injuries is two to three times greater—about 8 million to 12 million job injuries and illnesses each year, according to the AFL-CIO.

In 2009, Montana led the country with the highest rate of worker fatalities, with Louisiana, North Dakota, Wyoming, and Nebraska following close behind. The lowest fatality rates were reported in New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Delaware. The report indicates economic conditions and layoffs played a major role in the falling rates of workplace fatalities and injuries in 2009.

The report also says federal OSHA inspectors can inspect workplaces once every 129 years on average and state OSHA inspectors would take 67 years to inspect all workplaces. OSHA penalties for serious violations are $1,052 per violation for federal OSHA inspections and $858 for state plans. In cases involving worker fatalities, the median total penalty was $5,600 for federal OSHA and $4,543 for OSHA state plans. Oregon had the lowest median penalty for fatality investigations, while New Hampshire had the highest.

The report says recent budget proposals that slash OSHA's funding would decimate its enforcement ability. "Our work is never done when it comes to workplace safety -- the tragedies in the last year at Massey Energy's [Upper] Big Branch mine and the BP Gulf Coast oil rig have shown us that," said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.

The report shows Hispanic workers continue to be at increased risk of job fatalities; their fatality rate of 3.7 per 100,000 workers in FY 2009 compared with 3.3 per 100,000 in the general population. More than half of the fatalities involving Hispanic workers were among workers born outside the United States.

To view the full report, go to http://www.aflcio.org/issues/safety/memorial/upload/dotj_2011.pdf.

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