The 2011 “Dying for Work in Massachusetts: Loss of Life and Limb in Massachusetts Workplaces” report documents the 47 worker fatalities that occurred in the commonwealth in 2010 and calls for improved oversight and safety precautions to prevent on-the-job deaths.
The report, which is produced by the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (MassCOSH) and the Western Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (Western MassCOSH), stressed that workplace fatalities are preventable.
“Of the 47 families who suffered the pain of losing a loved one at work this year, many have to struggle with the fact that an existing safety regulation could have saved their loved one’s life,” said Robert Haynes, president of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO. “All an employer had to do was care enough to properly implement it.”
The report called for strengthened OSHA regulations and enforcement; increased immigrant worker protections, such as additional bilingual investigators and stronger whistleblower protections; work schedules and staffing arrangements that do not promote workplace injuries or illnesses; comprehensive workplace safety programs; and more.
“OSHA lacks funding, staff and tools to deter violations,” the report stated. “Fatal and serious workplace injuries in 2010 continued to occur because Massachusetts employers ignored OSHA regulations and failed to institute basic safety measures. Strong government regulations and enforcement – including criminal prosecution – is essential, but often lacking.”
- Ten worker fatalities, or 21 percent, occurred in the construction industry;
- Transportation (12 fatalities), falls (9 fatalities), commercial fishing (four fatalities) and workplace violence (three fatalities) otherwise accounted for the majority of worker deaths in Massachusetts;
- Fatally injured workers ranged in age from 18-77, with an average age of 50;
- Just over half of workers who died on the job were age 50 or older;
- Temporary workers and Latino employees may face an increased risk for workplace injury, illness or death;
- Approximately 440 additional workers in Massachusetts died from occupational diseases in 2010.
The 47 fatalities showed a decline compared to the 62 on-the-job deaths that occurred in the commonwealth in 2009. Even so, the report explained that worker deaths in Massachusetts have fluctuated in recent years, and declines in worker deaths typically have been followed by an increase the following year.
“Dying for Work in Massachusetts” was released in conjunction with Workers’ Memorial Day on April 28. Download a copy of the report here.