CSTE says work-related fatalities up in 2004

Special concern for immigrant workers

More than 5,700 work-related fatalities were recorded in the United States in 2004, up 2% from the year before, according to the Council on State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE).

U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2004, logging workers, aircraft pilots and flight engineers, fishers and related fishing workers, and structural iron and steel workers were among the occupations with the highest fatality rates.

The CSTE reports that not all the news is bad. Through careful benchmarking and research, many occupational fatalities are preventable. A report released by the CSTE and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) draws on 19 occupational health indicators to provide a snapshot of the health of workers in 13 states, while providing a model for other states to do the same.

According to the CSTE president-elect, Robert Harrison, MD, the collaboration of the 13 states and the information provided through the occupational health indicators establish benchmarks for worker safety and health in the United States.

"Not only will strong information gathering protect the individual worker and the public at large, but the information from these health indicators can help workers and businesses find solutions that can reduce the number and cost of work-related diseases and injuries," says Harrison.

Jobs with high work fatality rates for 2004 include:

  • Logging workers (92.4 per 100,000 workers, 85 fatalities)
  • Aircraft pilots and flight engineers (92.4 per 100,000, 109 fatalities)
  • Fishers and related fishing workers (86.4 per 100,000, 38 fatalities)
  • Structural iron and steel workers (47.0 per 100,000, 31 fatalities)
  • Refuse and recycle material collectors (43.2 per 100,000, 35 fatalities)
  • Farmers and ranchers (37.5 per 100,000, 307 fatalities)
  • Roofers (34.9 per 100,000, 94 fatalities)
  • Electrical power-line installers and repairers (30.0 per 100,000, 36 fatalities)
  • Driver/sales workers and truck drivers (27.6 per 100,000, 905 fatalities)
  • Taxi drivers and chauffeurs (24.2 per 100,000, 67 fatalities)

Fatalities among those 10 occupations accounted for nearly 30% of all work fatalities in 2004.

Occupational health and labor advocates are especially concerned by the proportion of immigrant workers who die or are injured on the job. According to a report released in August by the AFL-CIO, workplace fatalities among foreign-born workers increased by 46% between 1992 and 2002. Fatalities among Hispanic workers increased by 58% over the same period.

AFL-CIO report finds that while employment of foreign-born workers increased by 22% from 1996 to 2000, their share of fatal occupational injuries increased by 43%. Fatal work injuries in six states — California, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, and Texas — accounted for 64% of all fatalities for foreign-born workers during that period.

For the full AFL-CIO report, "Immigrant Workers at Risk: The Urgent Need for Improved Workplace Safety and Health Policies and Programs," visit www.aflcio.org. For more information on CSTE, go to www.cste.org.