Miller, chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, said that the map represented approximately 10 percent of deaths that have occurred in U.S. workplaces during 2007. It is not a comprehensive report, but it demonstrates the need to strengthen worker safety protections, he said.
When visiting the interactive online map (http://edlabor.house.gov/issues/workerdeaths.shtml), viewers can see how many fatalities occurred within their states. They can type the name of the state in which they reside in the location search box. The dots that appear on the map represent the victims that have died while working on the job within their state. When viewers click on the dots, an information box will appear showing the name of the victim, the company and industry they worked for, the date of the incident and the cause of their death. The map also shows where the incident took place.
“Each year, thousands of American workers die on the job. Sixteen workers are killed in workplace accidents each day. Ten times that many die of occupational diseases caused by hazards (or hazardous substances) like asbestos. And every 2.5 seconds, a worker is injured in the United States,” said Miller. “...There are simply too many American workers, from all walks of life, who get injured, sick or killed on the job.”
According to Miller, launching the online map of worker fatalities would hopefully remind Americans of the urgent need for increased efforts to eliminate unsafe conditions on the job. The map relies on published news reports in 2007 to show worker fatalities nationwide. The map represents roughly 10 percent of the total number of on-the-job fatalities so far this year.
He referred to the tragedy at Utah's Crandall Canyon mine of the dangers workers still face every day.
“It is my hope that the launch of this map will help policymakers and the public understand the extent of workplace fatalities in this country and the importance of acting aggressively to improve workplace safety," said Miller.
OSHA and MSHA Must Do More
Earlier this year, U.S. Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Calif., chairwoman of the House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, and U.S. Rep. Phil Hare, D-Ill., a member of the subcommittee, introduced legislation – Protecting America's Workers Act (H.R. 2049) – to reduce workplace fatalities, injuries and sicknesses. Specifically, the legislation would:
- Apply federal safety standards to workers who are not currently covered, including federal, state and local employees, and some private sector employees.
- Increase penalties against employers for repeated and willful violations of the law, including making felony charges available when an employer's repeated and willful violation of the law leads to a worker's death or serious injury.
- Better protect workers who blow the whistle on unsafe workplace conditions;
- Enhance the public's right to know about safety violations.
- Make clear that employers must provide the necessary safety equipment to their workers, such as goggles, gloves, respirators or other personal protective equipment.
Miller also said that the Bush administration must do more to vigorously enforce workplace safety laws.
“In hearings held earlier this year, witnesses told the committee that both [OSHA] and [MSHA] are not doing enough to update basic workplace safety standards and that the agencies have shifted their focus from enforcing the law to providing companies with so-called voluntary compliance assistance,” said Miller. “It is well past time that the Bush workplace safety agencies stop fiddling while workers die.”