The safety and health of American workers is the subject of "Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect," an extensive report released last week by the AFL-CIO.
In 2011, there were 148 workplace fatalities in North Carolina. One-third of these deaths involved transportation incidents, while about 20 percent resulted from violence and assault. Latino workers are at particular risk for occupational death and injury, as they often work in markedly hazardous industries such as construction and agriculture. Undocumented workers may also be hesitant to report poor working conditions.
The report examines job safety and health at state and federal levels, including statistics on fatalities, injuries and illnesses by type, industry, race and gender. It finds that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) conducts too few inspections and that penalties for violating health and safety standards are too weak to motivate employers to make needed adjustments. The report suggests revising the Occupational Safety and Health Act and calls for renewed commitment to worker welfare from policymakers who control OSHA funding.
3.7 North Carolina's workplace fatality rate per 100,000 workers
78,000 cases of workplace injuries and illnesses
59 years it would take for OSHA to inspect each workplace once
$970 average penalty for a serious safety or health violation
Note: Figures for 2011 and 2012
This article appeared in print with the headline "Toil and trouble."