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Workplace Safety: There is room for improvement

Did you know that every day in the United States, 13 people die on the job? Furthermore, the Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that about 137 die from occupational diseases, and somewhere around 10,000 suffer from workplace injuries or sicknesses. This information may come as a shock to many New York residents.

A recent study by BLS indicates that a total of 4,690 Americans died due to serious injuries at work in 2010. In 2009, only 4,551 deaths were reported. Also, while there were 3.5 fatal injuries per 100,000 workers in 2009, 2010 brought in a rate of 3.6 per 100,000 employees.

Furthermore, research shows that workers in forestry, agriculture, fishing and hunting have the highest fatality rate, at 27.9 per 100,000 workers. In addition, the mining, transportation and warehousing industries also have high death rates.

Also, studies have found differences among racial lines. For example, Latino workers have a fatality rate that is 8 percent higher than the national average. Also, a whopping 62 percent of fatal injuries to Latino workers are among those individuals born outside of the country.

Fortunately, since the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, the fatality rate has gone down in the United States. Nevertheless, we are not doing that well in comparison to other industrialized nations. The United States has a worse fatality rate than Australia, Canada, France, Germany and a couple of other countries.

Specifically, our country utilizes fewer safety resources. There are only 2,178 safety inspectors in the U.S. from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. These investigators are supposed to inspect around eight million workplaces around the nation. Unfortunately, this is pretty much impossible.

With this data, one can imagine the amount of safety deficiencies present in working environments. Despite these limited resources, it is nevertheless important that employers stay on top of workplace safety. After all, employees' lives depend on it.

Source: Allgov.com, "13 workers a day die on the job ... not including work-related diseases," Matt Bewig, May 8, 2012

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