AFL-CIO: R.I. ranks 2nd in U.S. for workplace safety
RHODE ISLAND'S WORKPLACE fatality rate of 1.7 deaths per 100,000 workers in 2012 ranks as the second-lowest rate in the country, labor federation AFL-CIO said Thursday. Above, a map depicting fatality rates in different states, where light states represent those with lower rates and dark states represent those with higher rates. North Dakota, with a rate of 17.7 fatalities per 100,000 employees, had the highest rate in the country.
WASHINGTON – Rhode Island ranks second in the country for workplace safety, according to a report released Thursday by labor-union federation AFL-CIO that placed the Ocean State’s work-related fatality rate for 2012 at 1.7 per 100,000 workers.
Only Massachusetts reported a lower fatality rate, at 1.4 per 100,000 workers. Both states ranked well below the national rate of 3.4 fatalities per 100,000 workers. Other top-ranked states for worker safety included Connecticut, which reported 2.1 fatalities per 100,000 employees, and New Hampshire and Washington, each with a fatality rate of 2.2.
The highest fatality rate in the country was recorded in North Dakota, which saw 17.7 fatalities per 100,000 in 2012 – one of the highest fatality rates ever reported for any state, AFL-CIO said. Wyoming (12.2), Alaska (8.9), Montana (7.3) and West Virginia (6.9) also performed poorly for workplace safety.
Nationwide, 4,628 workers were killed on the job in the United States during 2012, and an estimated 50,000 died from occupational diseases such as silicosis, AFL-CIO found. There were eight workplace-related deaths in Rhode Island in 2012 and 44 deaths in Massachusetts.
The annual AFL-CIO study serves to assess workplace safety and health protections for U.S. workers since the enactment of the Occupational Safety and Health Act was passed in 1970. Since then, the job fatality rate has dropped 81 percent, the labor federation said, but the continued occurrence of preventable workplace deaths and the underfunding of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration remain causes for concern, it said.
AFL-CIO stated at current funding levels, it would take federal and state OSHA inspectors an average of 105 years to inspect every workplace within the United States at least once, with South Dakota facing the largest backlog resulting in an estimated 521 years to inspect workplaces.
“A hard day’s work should not be a death sentence,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “It is unconscionable that any worker has to choose between life and putting food on the table. When Congress votes to weaken worker protections or defund critical programs, and when big corporations marginalize and de-emphasize worker safety, they insult the memory of all those workers who have died while fighting to attain the American Dream.”