2010 was a year filled with high-profile workplace accidents. The explosion and 29 worker deaths at the West Virginia Upper Big Branch coal mine, the Deepwater Horizon explosion that resulted in 11 casualties and the nation’s largest-ever oil spill, and the explosion at Tesoro Corporation’s Washington State oil refinery that killed seven workers, all made national headlines.
What was not seen on televisions or in newspapers across the country was that there were 4,690 people killed in workplace accidents nationwide in total, a three percent increase in fatal work injuries from 2009 according to the Department of Labor.
OSHA’s work safety laws have been important in keeping workers safe, with the first OSHA standards being credited for preventing 400,000 workplace deaths, but more needs to be done.
As OSHA said in a statement published by the Center for Public Integrity:
"On average more than 12 workers die on the job every day, and that reality continues to drive the work of the Labor Department. When the Occupational Safety and Health Act was passed in 1970, the National Safety Council estimated that 14,000 workers died each year on the job. Now, with a workforce that has doubled in size, the annual number of fatalities has dropped significantly. But it's not enough. We cannot relent from our enforcement of laws that keeps our nation's workers safe. One worker killed or injured on the job is too many."
We at the BlueGreen Alliance couldn’t agree more. Take time this Saturday to mark Workers Memorial Day, a day for community members to come together to remember those hurt or killed while working and to concentrate on the importance of ensuring it doesn’t happen again.
To find local events, visit the AFL-CIO’s Workers Memorial Day website.