275 U.S. Workers Die on the Job Every Day

May 06, 2019
According to an annual report released by the AFL-CIO , 5,147 people were killed on the job and an estimated 95,000 died from occupational diseases in 2017. Based on this data, an average of 275 U.S. workers die per day from hazardous working conditions. Workplace violence is the third-leading cause of workplace death, accounting for 807 deaths, including 458 homicides. For the third year in a row, workplace violence injuries increased, with nearly 29,000 workers suffering serious violence-related injuries due to assault on the job. Yet, even as violence increases in the workplace, the current administration has sidelined developing and issuing an Occupational Safety and Health Administration workplace violence standard.
The report, titled Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect, found a small decrease in the overall rate of fatal job injuries in 2017 from the previous year—3.5 per 100,000 from 3.6 per 100,000 workers. However, in recent years, there has been little overall change in the job fatality rate. Moreover, the most recent studies on the burden of occupational injuries and illnesses find that the toll of occupational disease deaths is much greater than previously estimated.
This is the 28th year the AFL-CIO has produced this report with its findings on the state of safety and health protections for working people within the United States. The report shows the highest workplace fatality rates are in Alaska, North Dakota, Wyoming, West Virginia and South Dakota.
Other report highlights show that Latino workers continue to have an increased risk of dying on the job and that the number of Latino worker deaths increased in 2017 to 903 from 879. Deaths among older workers also increased; workers 65 or older have nearly three times the risk of dying on the job as workers overall. Construction, transportation and agriculture industries remain among the most dangerous. In 2017, 917 construction workers were killed—the highest total of any sector. Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting was the most dangerous industry sector, with a fatality rate of 23.0 per 100,000 workers.
Despite these disturbing findings, OSHA’s meager resources are declining. Currently, federal OSHA has only 752 inspectors—the lowest number since the early 1970s. It would take the agency 165 years to visit workplaces under its jurisdiction just once. Yet, the administration has continued to enact an aggressive deregulatory agenda, gut safety rules, propose deep cuts to worker safety and health training and job safety research, and has refused to move forward with new rules to protect workers against growing threats.
Besides failing to act on workplace violence, the administration has suspended action on a new Mine Safety and Health Administration silica standard, even as the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has reported the largest cluster of pneumoconiosis in coal miners seen in years. More than 400 cases of advanced progressive massive fibrosis were reported from just three Appalachian clinics from 2013 to 2017—with exposure to silica identified as the primary cause.
Free Amazon HD 10 Tablet with RCRA and DOT Training
Annual hazardous waste training is required for anyone who generates, accumulates, stores, transports, or treats hazardous waste. Learn how to manage your hazardous waste in accordance with the latest state and federal regulations.  Learn how to complete EPA’s new electronic hazardous waste manifest, and the more than 60 changes in EPA’s new Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule.  Environmental Resource Center’s Hazardous Waste Training is available at nationwide locations, and via live webcasts.  If you plan to also attend DOT hazardous materials training, call 800-537-2372 to find out how can get your course materials on a new Amazon Fire HD 10 tablet at no extra charge.
6th Annual National Fall Prevention Safety Stand-Down
The construction of a nation, the physical labor that it takes to build and re-build, requires safe working conditions for its laborers. This year, during the week of May 6-10, thousands of employers across the country and internationally will stand down for the safety of construction workers and participate in the 6th annual National Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction. By pausing and taking time during this important week to communicate safety policies and best practices, provide fall prevention demonstrations and training, and offer talks about ways to protect from and mitigate fall hazards, employers can be at the forefront of safety while collectively participating in a campaign.
Falls are still the leading cause of death in construction accounting for one-third of on-the-job deaths in the industry. Almost two-thirds of all fatal falls are from roofs, scaffolds, and ladders. Four of the top 10 most frequently cited OSHA standards in 2018 directly relate to falls in construction: Fall protection, Scaffolds, Ladders, and Training Requirements. It is clear that these fatalities are preventable.
“While small construction firms are particularly hard hit, we encourage all leaders in the construction industry to make fall prevention and the safety of construction workers their highest priority,” said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D.  “Addressing fall prevention saves lives, not only during the National Safety Stand-Down, but every day all year long.”
The National Safety Stand-Down is a combined effort led by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), and CPWR—The Center for Construction Research and Training, and has become the cornerstone of the National Campaign to Prevent Falls in Construction launched in 2012. Now in its 6th year, the Stand-Down is a voluntary event that encourages employers to talk directly to employees about safety. Any workplace can hold stand-down events by taking a break from work to focus on job hazards and protective measures and use the multitude of resources available to them to raise awareness.  These resources include tool-box talks, guides, training, posters, infographics and videos, and hard hat stickers, hazard alert cards, the NIOSH ladder safety app and aerial lift simulator. The National Roofers Contractor Association will also host three free webinars during the Stand-Down week on ladder use and set-up, personal fall arrest systems, and rescue techniques.
“Falls can be prevented when employers train and educate workers about these hazards properly and provide appropriate protection,” said Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Loren Sweatt, MBA. “This should be a priority during the first week of May and must be a priority every day. OSHA has tools readily available for employers and workers to address the prevention of fall hazards.”
For the 2019 campaign, NIOSH created four new videos to highlight motivational stories of several organizations involved in the Stand-Down: OSHA, the Kentucky FACE program, the business perspective from BrandSafway, and the insurance and small business perspective. New infographics are valuable tools for succinctly communicating the messages of fall prevention to workers, and additional resources can be found at CPWR’s one-stop Stand-Down shop.
“We’ve asked contractors and workers about the benefits of participating in the Stand-Down over the last six years and, in addition to raising awareness around falls and improving fall prevention activities on the jobsite, the industry reports seeing improvements to their overall safety and health programs,” said CPWR Executive Director Chris Trahan Cain, CIH. “Some participants have reported seeing fewer falls, slips, and trips on their jobsites and even the smallest companies, including those with two-or three-person crews, have reported that being a part of a national campaign is a huge benefit.”
The benefits of participating in the Stand-Down go beyond raising awareness and improving worker knowledge of fall prevention.  In a survey CPWR conducted of organizations that have been highly engaged in the Campaign, 75% of respondents noticed an increase in fall prevention activities at their organization or in the industry as a whole, and 72% noticed an improvement in overall safety & health initiatives other than falls.  Being part of a national campaign, having access to new training resources, increased opportunities to share these resources, and improved relationships with other stakeholders and campaign partners, were among the other benefits noted.
Employers are encouraged to #StandDown4Safety, provide feedback after their events, and obtain a personalized certificate of participation.  Also, check out OSHA’s agency’s fall prevention webpage provides information on how to conduct a successful event, and educational resources in English and Spanish.
Washington to Update Walking, Working Surfaces and Ladder Standards
The Washing Department of Labor and Industries intends to conduct rulemaking to update the requirements for Walking Working Surfaces, Chapter 296-24 WAC, General Safety and Health Standards and Chapter 296-876 WAC, Ladders, Portable and Fixed.
In January of 2017, OSHA issued a final rule update to General Industry Walking-Working Surfaces and Fall Protection Standards, specifically 1910.21 through 1910.30. Consequently, the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) will be amending our rules to make them at least as effective as OSHA, as required by the Washington State Plan.
On February 19, 2019 a CR-101 (preproposal) was filed letting the public know DOSH was considering rulemaking on this subject. Identifying and amending relevant parts of Chapter 296-24 WAC, General Safety and Health Standards and Chapter 296-876 WAC, Ladders, Portable and Fixed will reduce employee exposures to falls.
Stakeholder meetings are being held to gather information from parties that are interested in updating the requirements of these rules.
Wednesday, May 22, 2019
11:00 – 12:30; 10:30 am sign-in
Location: Labor and Industries, Vancouver
312 SE Stonemill Drive, Suite 120
Vancouver, WA 98684
Thursday, May 23, 2019
3:00 – 4:30; 2:30 pm sign-in
Location: Labor and Industries, Kennewick
4310 W 24th Avenue
Kennewick, WA 99338
Wednesday, May 29, 2019
3:00 – 4:30; 2:30 pm sign-in
Location: Enduris Training Center
1610 S Technology Blvd #100
Spokane, WA 99224
While rulemaking on Unified Fall Protection and Walking Working Surfaces are separate filings, they primarily effect the same industries.
Texas Storage Tank Manufacturing Facility Fined for Exposing Employees to Serious Workplace Hazards 
OSHA has cited Molding Acquisition Corp. - operating as Rotoplas - for failing to protect employees from serious safety hazards at its location in Fort Worth, Texas. The company faces $281,108 in fines.
OSHA cited the Merced, California-based manufacturer of polyethylene storage tanks for 10 serious and two willful violations for exposing employees to fall hazards, as well as failing to inspect cranes, provide employees with forklift training, and implement lockout/tagout procedures to prevent amputations. Six of the violations are covered under OSHA’s National Emphasis Program on Amputations.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citation and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Fire-Safety Regulators, Scientists, & Industry Representatives Call for a Global Ban on PFAS Chemicals with No Loopholes for Toxic Fire Fighting Foams
Industry fire-safety experts from the oil and gas and aviation sectors have joined with firefighter trade unions to urge governments to protect human health and the environment with a global ban on the toxic chemical, PFOA, and to reject loopholes for its use in firefighting foams. The use of PFOA and other fluorinated organic compounds (PFAS) is widespread across many industrial and domestic applications including textiles, food packaging, stain and oil resistant treatments, and industrial processes. Fluorinated firefighting foam is a leading cause of water contamination with toxic chemicals that are associated with cancer, endocrine disruption, and harm to fetal development.
The 9th Conference of the Parties to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants is addressing a global ban on PFOA at a UN meeting (April 29-May 10). A key issue will be whether an exemption should be granted for continued PFOA use in firefighting foams. Industry fire-safety experts assert that no exemption is needed because cost-effective fluorine-free alternatives work as well or better than PFOA- and other PFAS-containing foams. Unlike PFAS-containing foams, fluorine-free alternatives do not cause long-term harm to human health and the environment or incur the extremely high cleanup costs of PFAS-containing foams.
The Stockholm Convention's scientific expert body recommended global elimination of PFOA due to its toxicity, persistence, bioaccumulation in the food chain, and ability to travel long distances. They also recommended strengthening the listing of PFOS in the treaty by closing a large number of loopholes. Since PFOA and PFOS have been used in firefighting foams, the expert body addressed alternatives to them, warning against using the entire class of PFAS substances in firefighting foams, "due to their persistence and mobility, as well as their potential negative environmental, human health and socioeconomic impacts." (POPRC-14/2)
In their new report, the fire safety experts demonstrate that PFAS alternatives to PFOA and PFOS are similarly toxic and even harder to control, leading to increased pollution, exposure, and presence in the food chain. In contrast, world-class airports and major companies have thrown their weight behind fluorine-free firefighting foams.
All of the 27 major Australian airports have transitioned to fluorine-free firefighting foams, as have the following major hub airports: Dubai, Dortmund, Stuttgart, London Heathrow, Gatwick, Edinburgh, Manchester, London City, Leeds-Bradford, Copenhagen, and Auckland, and elsewhere in Europe such as Billund, Guernsey, Bristol, Blackpool, and Köln-Bonn.
Kim T. Olsen, Head of Copenhagen Airport Rescue and Firefighting Academy, noted that Copenhagen Airport is still working on the clean-up and remediation of PFAS contamination from fluorinated (AFFF) firefighting foams and stated that, “Fluorine-free foam is the future. I see no reason to keep on polluting the environment with AFFF types of foam when the fluorine-free foam is just as efficient.”
Major players in the oil and gas and transportation sectors have also shifted to fluorine-free foams including Equinor, BP, ExxonMobil, Total, Caltex, Gazprom, Bayern Oil, JO Tankers, and ODFJEL. Some military users, including the Danish and Norwegian Armed forces, have also moved to fluorine-free foams.
Lars Ystanes, Environmental Specialist at Equinor (formerly Statoil) noted that, "We can remove a polluting chemical from use without compromising safety and at reasonable cost… [At Equinor] We have investigated and verified all aspects of the fluorine-free foam used, RF1-AG, with respect to operational firefighting efficiency, health, and safety, freeze protection, aging, etc. We regard the new fluorine-free foam as a fully acceptable and even better replacement for AFFF.”
Nigel Holmes, a government regulator with the Department of Science and the Environment in Queensland Australia called out the fluorine chemical industry stating, "A significant failure by the fluorochemicals industry and those using their chemicals in products has been to neglect to meet their international obligations under the Precautionary Principle – one of the tenets at the heart of the Stockholm Convention and a major test of the need for concern and action on persistent organic pollutants. "
A recent PFAS study of a large cohort of Australian firefighters found significant elevations of PFAS blood levels, far in excess of the general population in Australia. The study underscores the urgent need for action to protect human health. Commander Mick Tisbury, President of the United Firefighters Union of Australia, and Commander of the Melbourne Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) commented, "Melbourne Metropolitan Fire Brigade transitioned to non-persistent, fluorine-free firefighting foam in 2014, after extensive testing on live fire scenarios. Since then, every B Class fire that MFB has responded to have been extinguished with fluorine-free foam. Recently there has been misleading information circulated by various people with vested interests, regarding the effectiveness of fluorine-free foam (F3) on flammable liquid fires. Based on MFB's experience, Solberg RF3x6 foam concentrate has performed just as well as our previous fluorinated AFFF concentrate."
“Governments should listen carefully to industry fire safety professionals and firefighters who actually put out fires, not the polluting fluorine chemical industry who is lobbying for loopholes to continue selling their toxic products,” said Pamela Miller, a convener of the expert group and Co-Chair of IPEN. “Water is a precious resource and clean water a fundamental human right, now is the time to fulfill the Stockholm Convention’s protective objective and stop polluting it.”
Safety News Links