Press Release | Workplace Health and Safety

Stronger Health and Safety Protections Needed to Prevent Injuries and Fatalities at Workplaces

Statement from AFL-CIO's Safety and Health Director, Peg Seminario on the 2017 Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries:

"The BLS report shows that too many workers are being killed on the job. While in 2017, there was a small decline in the number and rate of job deaths, 5,147 workers lost their lives on the job. That is an average of 14 workers dying each and every day. This does not include the deaths from occupational diseases like black lung and silicosis, which are on the rise.

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. Deaths from falls reached record high levels (887) and deaths from confined spaces (166) increased by 15 percent. Deaths among Latino workers (903) increased after declining in 2016. Job deaths also increased in mining and oil and gas extraction. And deaths among older workers (65 and older) were at an all-time high with 775 workers in this age group killed on the job, experiencing a job fatality rate three times the national average.

In 2017, the number of deaths caused by unintentional overdoses of drugs or alcohol at work surged to 272. This represents a 25 percent increase from 2016, and a staggering 318 percent increase since 2012 when 65 unintentional overdose deaths were reported. Workplace violence deaths (807) declined from the record high number of deaths (866) reported in 2016, but remains one of the top three causes of job deaths, and a serious problem needing immediate action.

Stopping these rollbacks, strengthening job safety protections and preventing unnecessary worker deaths, injuries and diseases must be a top priority of the new Congress."

Contact: Gonzalo Salvador (202) 637-5033