New report from AFL-CIO highlights trends in workplace safety[Columbus, Ohio] ‒ April 28th is Workers Memorial Day, a day set aside to remember and honor those who have lost their lives on the job in the past year. According to preliminary data from the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation, 127 Ohioans lost their lives on the job in 2015. This is down from 185 deaths in the state in 2014 which represented a rate of 3.6 deaths per 100,000 workers. Ohio ranked 25th among all states for this statistic in 2014 according to a new report released today from the AFL-CIO.
“On this solemn occasion, working people across Ohio are committing ourselves to appropriately remember those that we have lost, and recommitting ourselves to fight for the protections and safeguards for all those who remain on the job,” said Ohio AFL-CIO President Tim Burga. “We have made great strides in protecting working people but we have much more to do to ensure safety in our workplaces in Ohio and across the country,” Burga said.
Nationally in 2014, 4,821 workers were killed on the job by traumatic injuries, and an estimated 50,000–60,000 died from occupational diseases according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This number will increase when the final data is released later this year. This preliminary count is an increase from the 4,585 work-related deaths that BLS reported in the final count for 2013.
This year marks the 45th anniversary of the effective date of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and the creation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The Act—which guarantees every American worker a safe and healthful working environment—created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to set and enforce standards and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to conduct research and investigations. This year also marks the 47th anniversary of the Coal Mine Health and Safety Act, and the 39th anniversary of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act.
Since taking office in 2009, the Obama administration has increased the job safety budget, stepped up enforcement and has completed several much-needed standards, including rules on cranes and derricks, coal dust, confined spaces in construction, injury reporting and silica standards. But industry groups are trying to overturn the new OSHA silica rule, and the Republican majority in Congress is trying to roll back worker protections and the right to join a union. For its part, the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation appropriated and provided $15 million in new safety grants during 2015 which will go a long way to enhance workplace safety across the state.
Also of note in the new AFL-CIO report is that workplace violence is a growing problem. There currently is no federal workplace violence standard, with only a few states addressing the problem. Nationally in 2014, there were 404 workplace homicides, similar to the number (397) in 2013. There were more than 26,000 serious injuries related to workplace violence, with women workers in health care and social assistance facing the greatest risk of injury. Women experienced nearly twice as many workplace violence events as men. There were 271 suicides in the workplace in 2014, compared to 249 in 2012 and 282 in 2013.
Workers Memorial Day ceremonies are scheduled to take place across Ohio on Thursday April 28th including events in Athens, Canton, Cincinnati, Mansfield, Newark, and Toledo.