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Report on workplace fatality highlights those most in danger

The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) has just published its latest workplace safety and health report, titled "Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect." The report is based on information compiled by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (DLS).

Workplace fatalities and job-related injuries and illnesses have decreased in the past half century. However, on average 150 people died every day in 2015 due to hazardous working conditions. Some industries are more dangerous than others. It's not surprising that construction and transportation occupations have more fatalities than other types of jobs. However, so do agriculture, forestry, fishing and landscaping.

The number of immigrant workers employed in these industries could be a factor. Latino worker deaths increased since the previous report was issued last year. These workers have an 18 percent higher chance of dying from a job-related cause then workers overall. This rise in Latino deaths was particularly high here in California. Our state accounted for half of the increase. Most of these deaths involved immigrants employed in the agriculture, construction and transportation fields.

The AFL-CIO credits OSHA in large part for making workplaces safer via regulations, inspections and large penalties for employers whose negligence or actions endanger their employees. However, budget cuts have impacted the agency's ability to conduct inspections. Repeals of key safety regulations under the current president's administration and promises to cut budgets that fund health and safety training programs for workers could send worker fatality rates upward.

Even if they aren't subject to the regulations and oversight they once were, employers owe their employees the safest possible work environment. If a loved one dies as the result of a work-related injury or illness, it's wise to find out what your legal options are for seeking compensation to help your family move forward.

Source: AFL-CIO, "Top Findings from the 2017 Death on the Job Report," Rebecca L. Reindel, April 26, 2017

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