AFL-CIO releases annual report on workplace deaths

Citing the recent deaths of 29 miners at the Massey Energy Upper Big Branch coal mine in West Virginia, the AFL-CIO called for stronger safety laws and penalties in its annual "Death on the Job" report (.pdf file), released April 27.

The report shows 5,214 workers died from workplace injuries and roughly 50,000 died from occupational diseases in 2008. Because of underreporting, the AFL-CIO estimates the actual number of workplace-related injuries and illnesses is 2 to 3 times more than the 4.6 million that were reported.

Nationally, the fatality rate was 3.7 per 100,000 workers. Wyoming had the highest fatality rate, with 11.6 per 100,000 workers; New Hampshire had the lowest at 1.0.

The AFL-CIO once again decried the number of OSHA inspectors. OSHA plans to have 885 federal and 1,333 state inspectors for 8 million workplaces, which the report said means they can inspect workplaces once every 137 years at the federal level and once every 63 years in State Plan states.

The report also argued OSHA penalties are too low to deter violations.

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