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10 Facts about Workplace Safety

Workplaces are much safer since the 1970 Occupational Safety and Health Act, which promised workers the right to a safe job. Despite the significant improvement in workplace rules and regulations, too many workers are still at serious risk of on-the-job injury, illness, and even death.

Here are 10 facts to consider about America’s workers based on the 23rd annual AFL-CIO report on the state of safety and health protections.

  • The number of workplace deaths overall have declined since 1970, when the country registered about 13,800 on-the-job fatalities. In 2012, the number of deaths was about one-third of that, at about 4,600 fatalities.
  • The most dangerous U.S. state for workers is North Dakota. Its fatality rate (almost 18 deaths per 100,000 workers) is five times higher than the national average.
  • Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Washington State and California had the lowest fatality rates in 2012.
  • Twenty-one states saw jumps in either the rate or the number of fatalities between 2011 to 2012, with New Hampshire posting an 83 percent rise, followed by North Dakota at 43 percent, and Vermont with a 35 percent increase.
  • More than 3.8 million workers suffered from work-related injuries and illnesses in 2012, which the union said is likely underreported and could be as high as 11.4 million employees.
  • Latino workers, especially those born outside of the United States, continue to face higher rates of workplace fatalities and accounted for 748 of 2012’s on-the-job deaths.
  • Musculoskeletal disorders caused by ergonomic hazards are increasing and now account for 34.7% of all serious injuries.
  • Workplace violence is also a growing problem, causing 24,610 serious injuries and killing 803 workers in 2012.
  • Women workers suffered two-thirds of the injuries related to workplace violence.
  • The cost of job injuries and illnesses is estimated at $250 billion to $330 billion every year.