BLS data on workplace deaths shows significant racial disparities, National COSH says
Los Angeles — Workplace deaths as a result of trauma have increased at a significantly higher percentage for Black, Latino and Asian workers compared with white workers, according to the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health.
The advocacy group’s analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data from 2015 to 2019 found that the percentage of non-white employees who died because of workplace trauma increased 27.6%. The percentage of workplace trauma deaths increased 28% for Black or African-American workers in that same period, 20% for Hispanic or Latino workers, and 59% for Asian workers.
The percentage of deaths from workplace trauma for white workers increased 1.7%.
In a Dec. 21 press release, Jessica Martinez, co-executive director of National COSH, said one reason for the disparity is that workers of color are “routinely being assigned to the dirtiest and most dangerous jobs.”
National COSH added that, barring a significant change in data protocols, BLS likely won’t include COVID-19 deaths as part of its next release of workplace fatality data – even if the exposure occurs on the job.
“These deaths typically take place outside of work, without any data collection regarding workplace exposure to the virus,” National COSH states.
Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries data from BLS does not include deaths because of long-term exposures to hazardous substances, such as toxic chemicals. The press release states that an estimated 95,000 workers die each year due to those exposures.