FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Bernard Pollack (AFL-CIO) 202-637-5018
On the Job Fatalities and Injuries for Hispanics Increased Nationwide as Rates Continued to Drop for Other Workers
State-by-State Numbers on Job Deaths and Injuries Included in New Report
(April 24, Washington) – Although workplace safety and health is improving overall, fatalities among Latino workers continue to dramatically escalate, according to the 2003 AFL-CIO study entitled “Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect; a State-by-State Profile of Worker Safety and Health in the United States,” which will be released Monday.
The report shows that since 1992 the number of fatalities to Hispanic workers killed at work has increased by 67 percent, from 533 fatalities in 1992 to 891 in 2001. At the same time, the overall number of workplace fatalities dropped from 6,217 in 1992 to 5,900 in 2001. Hispanics have a fatality rate of 6 per 100,000 workers, well above the national rate of 4.1 per 100,000.
“The rate in which Hispanic workers are dying on the job is a national tragedy. Employers must stop exploiting Hispanic workers and dramatically improve workplace safety, and the government must do more to hold employers accountable,” says AFL-CIO President John Sweeney.
The report points out that Hispanic workers are often denied major safety protections and face harsh and illegal penalties from employers for reporting violations.
Fatalities among immigrant workers have followed a similar trend, increasing from 635 in 1992 to 849 in 2000. In 2000, 58 percent of immigrant workers who died on the job are Hispanic. New statistics show that things are even worse for immigrant workers in Florida and Texas. The number of foreign-born work fatalities in Florida has risen by more than 60 percent over roughly the last decade, and in Texas, 190 Hispanic workers and 115 foreign-born workers statewide died on the job in 2000, a dramatic rise from the previous year.
The AFL-CIO is releasing the report on Workers’ Memorial Day -- April 28th -- when workers and their communities come together worldwide to honor the workers killed and injured on the job last year. With events taking place across the country, thousands of working Americans will hold candlelight vigils and rallies on Monday to commemorate the victims of workplace injuries, diseases, and fatal catastrophes for the 15th annual observance of Workers’ Memorial Day.
Some of the cities across the country holding large events are Los Angeles, CA; Washington, DC; Chicago, IL; Detroit, MI; Atlantic City, NJ; Duluth, MN; New York,
NY; Columbus, OH; Pittsburgh, PA; Nashville, TN and Milwaukee, WI. Internationally there will be events in Australia, Belgium, and the United Kingdom among others.
The Bush Administration has done little to curb unsafe working conditions for Hispanics and immigrants. The Administration has cut vital training and education programs for Hispanic workers, killed an ergonomics regulation that would have helped many Hispanic workers who are routinely crippled in the nation’s poultry factories, and has refused to require employers to pay for protective gear for workers.
While more funding is needed, OSHA has been successful in improving workplace safety. In fact, 271,704 people can now say their lives have been saved since the passage of the OSHA Act in 1970, which was a law union members were central in passing.
Yet, the Bush Administration is trying to weaken OSHA. Between 1999 and 2002, the number of employees covered by federal OSHA inspections decreased by nearly twenty percent. The average number of hours spent per inspection also decreased, from 22 to 19.1 hours for safety inspections and from 40 to 32.7 hours per health inspection
Overall, 5,900 workers died nationally from on-the-job injuries in 2001 not including Sept. 11, with over 5.2 million workers facing injury or illness on the job. To inspect every workplace nationwide only once would take 80 years.
The first Workers’ Memorial Day was commemorated in 1989. April 28th represents the anniversary of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
For advance copies of the AFL-CIO’s study “Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect; a State-by-State Profile on Worker Safety and Health in the United States,” contact Bernard Pollack at 202-637-5018.