"It was quite startling to see" the 2014 increase in the U.S. fatality rate for workers 55 and older, with 1,691 occupational deaths in this group, AFL-CIO Director of Safety and Health Peg Seminario said in April 2016.

Older Workers' Risks Highlighted in AFL-CIO's 2016 Report

Other high-risk work groups cited in the report are oil and gas extraction workers (144 deaths in 2014), health care workers who may face workplace violence hazards (765 occupational fatalities in 2014 were attributed to workplace violence), and Latino workers (804 deaths in 2014 and a fatality rate of 3.7 per 100,000 workers).

The AFL-CIO released its 2016 "Death on the Job" report on April 27, timing it to coincide with Workers' Memorial Day observances on April 28, and highlighted several high-risk worker groups in the document, particularly older workers. During 2014, the year the report covers, there were 4,821 workers killed on the job in the United States, and 35 percent of those occupational fatality victims -- 1,691 -- were workers 55 or older. It was the highest number of workplace fatalities ever recorded for this age group, according to the report as discussed by AFL-CIO Director of Safety and Health Peg Seminario.

This report is the 25th in the annual series produced by the AFL-CIO. It shows Wyoming was the state with the highest fatality rate in 2014 (13.1 per 100,000 workers), followed by North Dakota (9.8), Alaska (7.8), South Dakota (7.2), and Mississippi (7.1)

"It was quite startling to see" the increased fatality rate for workers 55 and older when the data were originally released, Seminario said, adding that falls were behind many of the deaths in this age group. The report says workers 65 and older have three times the risk of dying on the job as other U.S. workers and a fatality rate of 10.7 per 100,000 workers. And U.S. employment is increasing for these older workers, she pointed out.

"I think that looking now at the aging workforce is going to be critical. . . . A targeted approach I think is the way to go with this issue," she said during a conference call on which she briefed reporters about the report. Seminario is a member of OSHA's National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health, known as NACOSH.

Other high-risk work groups cited in the report are oil and gas extraction workers (144 deaths in 2014), health care workers who may face workplace violence hazards (765 occupational fatalities in 2014 were attributed to workplace violence), and Latino workers (804 deaths in 2014 and a fatality rate of 3.7 per 100,000 workers).

The report says OSHA's job safety oversight and enforcement are getting worse, in terms of the number of federal and state inspectors and the current federal budget for OSHA, but Seminario also praised some recent moves by OSHA and MSHA, including OSHA's new silica standard and the 2015 rule from MSHA requiring proximity detection systems on continuous mining machines in underground coal mines.

"Obviously, we've got a host of challenges and a lot of work to do," she said.

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