Posted by Heidi Schwartz
Preliminary results from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries show a reduction in the number of fatal work injuries in 2012 compared with 2011. Last year, 4,383 workers died from work-related injuries, down from a final count of 4,693 fatal work injuries in 2011. Based on preliminary counts, the rate of fatal workplace injuries in 2012 was 3.2 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers, down from a rate of 3.5 per 100,000 in 2011.
In response, Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez issued the following statement:
Workers in this country have the right to return home safe and healthy at the end of a work day. Despite that right, poor safety conditions cause thousands of people each year to lose their lives at work.
I am greatly encouraged by the reduction in workplace fatalities, even in a growing economy. It is a testament to the hard work of employers, unions, health and safety professionals and the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Mine Safety and Health Administration. Through collaborative education and outreach efforts, and effective law enforcement, these numbers indicate that we are absolutely moving in the right direction.
But to me these aren’t just numbers and data—they are fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, who will never come home again.
We can and must to better. Job gains in oil and gas and construction have come with more fatalities, and that is unacceptable. That’s why OSHA has undertaken a number of outreach and educational initiatives, including a campaign to prevent falls in construction and the National Voluntary Stand Down of U.S. Onshore Oil and Gas Exploration and Production, co-sponsored by oil and gas industry employers and planned for Nov. 14. Employers must take job hazards seriously and live up to their legal and moral obligation to send their workers home safe every single day. The Labor Department is committed to preventing these needless deaths, and we will continue to engage with employers to make sure that these fatality numbers go down further.
No worker should lose their life for a paycheck.