A state-by-state report issued by the AFL-CIO, issued in conjunction with the upcoming Worker’s Memorial Day this Friday, presents a mixed picture on the status of workplace safety in America. Analyzing data from 2004, the report shows that rates for deaths in the workplace increased for the first time in a decade, while rates for illnesses and injuries experienced a slight decline. The picture in Wisconsin is reversed,
with its rank at 15th lowest for workplace deaths, but above average for its rate of workplace injuries and illnesses. And it is likely that workplace injuries have been undercounted as a result of reluctance of migrant workers and teenagers to report workplace accidents. “Progress in protecting workers’ health and safety is slowing, and for some groups of workers jobs are becoming more dangerous,” the report says. The report cites a policy of decreased regulation under the Bush Administration as coming at the expense of worker safety and health, and recommends strengthening of OSHA standards and giving workers a voice in the development of workplace safety and health standards.
Having seen a year of mining disasters that claimed many workers’ lives, let’s hope that fresh energy will devoted to the improvement of workplace heath and safety.