BLS Data Paints a Bleak Picture for 'Vulnerable Workers,' AFL-CIO Says

While the release of the Bureau of Labor Statistic's 2005 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries prompted a positive response from OSHA chief Edwin Foulke, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney said the report shows a "worsening situation for many of the nation's most vulnerable workers."

Sweeney pointed out that while there were improvements in areas such as falls (down 7 percent) and occupational deaths among women (down 3 percent), job deaths in 2005 increased among Latinos, African Americans, agricultural workers and workers under the age of 20.

He placed the blame on the Bush administration, claiming these workers at the "bottom of the economic ladder are paying a heavy price."

"Our workplaces should be getting safer, not more dangerous, " Sweeney said. "Yet 6 years of Bush Administration neglect and failure of workplace health and safety have put millions of workers at increased danger."

Deaths Among Hispanic/Latino Workers Reached All-Time Census High

The number of on-the-job fatalities among Hispanic or Latino workers reached its highest level (917 fatalities) since the census was launched in 1992, but due to increased employment, the fatality rate for this population was down in 2005. Workplace fatalities involving foreign-born Hispanic workers also were higher in 2005, rising to 625 fatalities the highest level since the census began and up from 596 in 2004.

Fatalities among black or African American workers rose from 546 fatalities in 2004 to 577 fatalities in 2005.

Higher numbers of fatalities were observed for both younger workers (19 years of age and younger) and older workers (55 years of age and older).

The number of fatalities among younger workers was up 18 percent (166 fatalities, up from 141 in 2004). Fatalities among workers 55 years of age or older rose to 1,499 the highest level since the census began although the fatality rate for older workers was lower.

The situation also was grim for the nation's agriculture workers, with 714 workers killed in the agriculture, forestry and fishing industries, up from 669 deaths in 2004.

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