Work-Related Deaths are at Unacceptable Levels, according to AFL-CIO
According to data collected from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2016, there were an estimated 5,200 worker deaths due to traumatic job-related injuries that year. The same year, the last in which data is currently available, marked the third consecutive with an overall increase in worker deaths and the most since 2008. Agency data also specifies occupational disease kills an additional 50,000 people every year. This is more than suicides, homicides, or traffic accidents, all at the top.
These labor statistics are simply unacceptable. They should be on the decline as years pass rather than skyrocketing given the technology employers now have available designed to curtail risk. And, the AFL-CIO is working hard to try to get the numbers down.
The AFL-CIO unions observe Workers Memorial Day on April 28th each year to remember those who’ve suffered and lost their lives while on the job and to renew the fight for workers’ safety measures. Many, however, don’t realize how extensive the issue surrounding on-the-job deaths is nor how hard the organization fights against it.
In New York, AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento issued the following statement this past Workers Memorial Day, the designated day for awareness, mourning, reflection, and affirming a commitment to the cause:
“On Saturday, April 28th, in cities, towns, and communities across this country and throughout the world we remember working men and women who have suffered and died on the job. One worker who does not return home from work is too many, yet here in New York State, 272 workers lost their lives in 2016, the most current data available. That’s 272 families that had to endure the heart-wrenching news that their loved one would not return home from a day of work.” He continued, “But, as we pay tribute and reflect on those we lost, we also stand firm in our fight to strengthen workplace protections, make jobs safer and save lives. It is working people, through their unions, who fight for not only better wages and benefits, but better working conditions. And while we have made great strides over the years, all those gains are now threatened by right-wing ideologues in Congress and across this country who want nothing more than to silence the voice of working people. That won’t happen here in New York State. We gained 75,000 new union members last year and are on our way to adding thousands more already this year. That means more and more working people are recognizing the value in joining together and speaking with one voice.”
Cilento hopes that the increase in members will draw more awareness to the cause. “It is in that unity that we will counter the attacks on working people. On this Workers’ Memorial Day, we demand that the well-being of workers comes before corporate interests. Whether in the field of construction, on scaffolding, workplace violence in a school building or classroom, in a psychiatric hospital or prison, workplace safety is always a priority. Continuing to grow the labor movement will only make us stronger, giving us a powerful unified voice to raise the standard of living and quality of life of all working people. That quality of life begins and ends with ensuring a safe workplace.”