Editor’s Note: The following media release was shared on Thursday by the AFL-CIO.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — According to an annual report released today by the AFL-CIO, Latino workers and immigrant Latino workers continue to have an increased risk of dying on the job. In 2017, 903 Latino workers were killed on the job, an increase from 879 Latino worker deaths in 2016. The Latino fatality rate remains higher than the national job fatality rate for all workers. Increases in the number of Latino workers killed on the job particularly occurred in transportation, falls, landscaping and temporary help services. Latino working people need expanded health and safety programs and workplace protections.
Overall, 5,147 working people in the U.S. were killed on the job in 2017, a decrease from 5,190 deaths the previous year. Another estimated 95,000 died from occupational diseases, meaning approximately 275 U.S. workers died on the job each day from preventable, hazardous workplace conditions. The national job fatality rate decreased to 3.5 per 100,000 workers from 3.6 in 2016.
“This is a national crisis. And it’s well past time that our elected leaders in Washington, D.C., stop playing politics and take action to prevent these tragedies. Instead, the Trump administration is actually gutting the protections we fought so hard to win in the first place,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “This is unacceptable. It’s shameful. And the labor movement is doing everything in our power to stop it.”
The report, titled Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect, marks the 28th year the AFL-CIO has produced its findings on the state of safety and health protections for working people within the United States. The report shows the highest workplace fatality rates are in Alaska, North Dakota, Wyoming, West Virginia and South Dakota.
The number of all immigrant worker deaths decreased from 970 in 2016 to 927 in 2017. Latino immigrant workers account for 568 of these deaths. The four states with the greatest number of immigrant worker fatalities in 2017 were California, Texas, Florida and New York.
The largest number of immigrant worker deaths was in the construction industry at 262 out of 927 total deaths, specifically in specialty trade contracting, where 68% of the construction deaths took place. The transportation industry was responsible for 177 immigrant worker deaths—69% in truck transportation, specifically.
Startlingly, workplace violence is the third-leading cause of workplace death overall, accounting for 807 deaths, including 458 homicides. For the third year in a row, workplace violence injuries increased, with nearly 29,000 workers suffering serious violence-related injuries due to assault on the job. Yet, even as violence increases in the workplace, the Trump administration has sidelined developing and issuing an Occupational Safety and Health Administration workplace violence standard.
Despite these disturbing findings, OSHA’s meager resources are declining. Currently, federal OSHA has only 752 inspectors—the lowest number since the early 1970s. It would take the agency 165 years to visit workplaces under its jurisdiction just once. Yet, the administration has continued to enact an aggressive deregulatory agenda, gut safety rules, propose deep cuts to worker safety and health training and job safety research, and has refused to move forward with new rules to protect workers against growing threats.