According to a new AFL-CIO report, Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect, 39 workers were killed in Nebraska in 2011 with a rate of 3.9 deaths per 100,000 workers. Nationally, Nebraska ranks 26th with 1 being the best and 50 being the worst. Due to lack of staffing it would take the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 112 years to inspect each workplace in the Nebraska once.
The report notes that in 2011, there were 4,693 workplace deaths due to traumatic injuries and more than 3.8 million workers across all industries, including state and local government, who experienced work-related illnesses and injuries. As a comparison point, in 2010, 4,690 people died on the job. For the past three years, after years of steady decline the job fatality rate has essentially been unchanged, with a rate of 3.5/100,000 workers in 2011. Similarly for past two years there has been no change in the reported workplace injury and illness rate (3.5 per 100 workers), indicating that greater efforts are needed for continued progress in reducing job injuries and deaths.
The AFL-CIO report features profiles of workers’ safety and health in each state and includes national information on workplace illnesses, injuries and fatalities as well as the number and frequency of workplace inspections, penalties, funding, staffing and public employee coverage under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act). The report also addresses delays in the rule-making process and emerging hazards such as pandemic flu and other infectious diseases. The report finds that in the face of an ongoing assault on regulations by business groups and Republicans in Congress, progress on many new important safety and health rules has stalled. The White House Office of Management and Budget has delayed needed protections including OSHA’s draft proposed silica rule which has been held up for more than 2 years.
“To many people are dying on the job right here in Nebraska and a lot of work still needs to be done to ensure that no worker fears for his or her health and wellbeing on the job,” said Nebraska State AFL-CIO President Ken Mass. “Many workers are still unable to have a voice on the job and to advocate for better working conditions. A good job is not defined only by the absence of physical danger. Working people deserve respect, dignity, good wages, healthcare, and opportunities to grow and to give back to one’s community.”
Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect was released after vigils, rallies and actions were held across the country to commemorate all those workers who died and were injured on the job for Workers Memorial Day on April 28. Nebraska’s memorial was held on the North steps of the state capitol.