According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4,690 workers were killed on the job in 2010, and an estimated 50,000 died from occupational diseases. In addition, more than 3.8 million workers across all industries, including state and local government, experienced work-related injuries and illnesses in 2010.
"Due to limitations in the injury reporting system and underreporting of workplace injuries, this number understates the problem. The true toll of job injuries is two to three times greater – about 7.6 million to 11.4 million job injuries and illnesses each year," the report stated.
The 2010 fatality count signifies an increase from 2009, when 4,551 workers died on the job.
"While we have made great strides in making our workplaces safer, too many women and men in this country and around the world continue to be hurt or killed on the job. Workers continue to be exposed to well-known hazards that are poorly regulated and inadequately controlled," said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.
Key findings include:
· West Virginia, Wyoming, Alaska, South Dakota and North Dakota were among the states with the highest workplace fatality rates while New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Rhode Island recorded the lowest rates.
· A number of states experienced significant increases in their 2010 fatality rates compared to their 2009 rates. West Virginia had 130 percent increase, Alaska an 111 percent increase, Wyoming a 59 percent increase and Hawaii a 57 percent increase.
· Latino workers, especially those born outside of the United States, continued to face higher rates of workplace fatalities – at a rate of 3.9 per 100,000 workers, or 8 percent higher – than other workers.
· The construction sector experienced 774 fatal occupational injuries in 2010, the largest number by industry. This represents a decrease from the construction industry's 834 fatalities in 2009, which the report attributes to a possible result of the recession and decreased hours worked.
· The transportation and warehousing industry recorded 661 fatalities. Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting had 621.
· The number of workplace homicides decreased in 2010 (518 compared to 542 in 2009) but workplace suicides increased to 270 compared to 263 in 2009.
· The cost of job injuries and illnesses is estimated at $250 billion to $300 billion a year.
The report includes state-by-state profiles of workers' safety and health and features state and national information on workplace fatalities, injuries, illnesses, the number and frequency of workplace inspections, penalties, funding, staffing and public employee coverage under the Occupational Safety and Health Act. The report also addresses delays in the standard-making process, ergonomic injuries and new and emerging hazards like pandemic flu and other infectious diseases.
"As we move forward to build an economy for our future, it's important that we commit together to developing and issuing the kinds of rules critical to ensuring the safety of all working people," Trumka concluded.
The 2012 "Death on the Job" report, released on May 2, marks the 21st year AFL- CIO has produced a report on the state of safety and health protections for America's workers. The report's release follows the nation's commemoration of Workers' Memorial Day on April 28. Access the full report here.