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AFL-CIO's 33rd Annual Report Spotlights Ongoing Workplace Safety Concerns

Worker in green vest and hard hat tends to an injured co-worker lying on the ground after a work accident.

Year after year, workers lose their lives on the job due to hazardous working conditions. The 2024 edition of the AFL-CIO's "Death on the Job" report once again sheds light on the staggering toll of workplace injuries, illnesses, and fatalities across the United States.

In 2022 alone, a startling 5,486 workers were killed at work from traumatic injuries. This figure doesn't even account for the estimated 120,000 workers who died from occupational diseases during the same year. Alarmingly, these numbers indicate that an average of 344 workers die each day due to job-related injuries and illnesses. Agriculture, mining, transportation, and construction were the industries with the highest fatality rates.

The report also highlights stark racial disparities in workplace fatalities. In 2022, a record 734 Black workers lost their lives on the job. This statistic reflects the highest number in at least two decades. The job fatality rate for Black workers now stands at 4.2 per 100,000 workers, which exceeds the overall rate. Latino workers face a similarly disproportionate risk, with a fatality rate of 4.6 per 100,000 workers – a 24% increase over the past decade.

Common challenges associated with workplace safety

Underreporting of workplace injuries and illnesses remains a significant issue, with estimates suggesting that the true toll could be two to three times higher than the reported figures. This underreporting, coupled with widespread employer disincentives to report incidents, paints an incomplete picture of the extent of the problem.

The costs associated with occupational injuries and illnesses are staggering. According to the report, businesses pay between $174 billion and $348 billion annually in direct and indirect costs resulting from the most disabling injuries. These figures don't even account for the immense emotional and financial burdens placed on affected workers and their families.

What's being done to address the problem?

Efforts to strengthen worker protections face an uphill battle. Job safety agencies such as OSHA and MSHA continue to struggle with insufficient resources and staffing. This hampers their ability to conduct inspections, issue violations, and enforce safety standards effectively.

The report outlines a clear path forward, calling for increased funding and staffing for job safety agencies, stronger enforcement measures, and the passage of legislation to enhance worker protections. It also highlights the need for improved data collection and transparency.

The report also highlights the importance of addressing emerging threats, such as workplace violence, heat-related illnesses, and infectious diseases. Issuing comprehensive standards and regulations to mitigate these risks is a pressing priority.

Injured on the job in New York? Let us protect your rights

The fight for worker safety and health is an ongoing battle, one that requires sustained commitment and collective action from policymakers, employers, and advocacy groups. As the AFL-CIO's "Death on the Job" report reminds us, preventing injury, illness, and death at work isn't just a matter of ensuring worker safety – it's about restoring dignity, improving livelihoods, and reducing the burden on families and communities. Employers must fulfill their obligations to protect workers.

If you were hurt on the job, you have the right to seek compensation under New York's workers' compensation laws. That's where the attorneys at Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano come in.

For over 90 years, we have helped countless injured workers throughout NYC and New York State recover over $1 billion in compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, long-term disability, rehabilitation, vocational retraining, and much more. We can walk you through the filing process, handle all the complex paperwork, and advocate for fair compensation on your behalf. To get started, contact us today for a free consultation.

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