According to the BLS, there were 5,559 workplace deaths due to traumatic injuries in 2003, a slight increase from the number of deaths in 2002, when 5,534 workplace deaths were reported. The AFL-CIO released its 14th annual death on the job report. Access the full 154-page report -- Death on the Job, The Toll of Neglect (PDF) -- or read Jordan Barab's excellent summary of report "highlights". Also, visit rawblogXport for some links to various labor sites commemorating Worker Memorial Day 2005.
It would be good to see a larger focus on this topic in the media, but in doing a Google search we were disappointed to find little on the topic. We found an article noting that Wyoming has the dubious distinction of the most work fatalities, with a rate of 13.9 deaths per 100,000 workers vs. the national average of 4 deaths per 100,000 workers, and one other article about the death rate for Hispanics on job climbing in Colorado. I guess everyone is busy with the Michael Jackson trial. I wonder how many deaths the media could help prevent if only a small fraction of the attention that was devoted to the Terry Schiavo case could be devoted to this important issue?
It's also disappointing that little progress had been made in legislation to prosecute serial killers - those employers that willingly and knowingly flout basic OSHA safety standards resulting in repeated worker fatalities. Immigrant workers are particularly at risk of losing their lives on the job.
The best thing we can all do to commemorate the 5,559 people who died on the job is to redouble our commitment to work safety and injury prevention. I've worked with conscientious employers who have experienced a work death - the horror of such an event and the lasting trauma on the families, on other workers, and on managers and supervisors can't be adequately conveyed. Employers, this is a truly terrible lesson you do not want to learn the hard way - don't let a preventable work death happen on your watch.
Here are related posts that we've made since last year's event.
Hispanic Fatalities on the job: the Tip of the Iceberg
Three construction workers die every day in the U.S.
Workplace deaths increased in 2003
Felony for willful safety violations - legislation gaining traction?
Florida shuts down uninsured employer after two worker deaths
Workplace "freak accidents" as a media myth
Dyang at Work, Part 1 and Part 2
Wrongful Death Accountability Act.