More than 6,000 US Workers Killed at Work in 2022, Study Finds

Bureau of Labor Statistics data reveal "“marked racial disparities”

by Vins

Working in the United States puts your life in danger more than it did in the past, according to a February 2024 report for Truthout by Tyler Walicek. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), obtained as part of the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI), there was a  “5.7 percent increase in workplace deaths in the U.S. during the relevant 2021-2022 census period,” Truthout reported.

In 2022, “Nearly 6,000 U.S. workers died on the job,” Walicek wrote, and “a startling total of 2.8 million were injured or sickened.” On average, a US worker was killed at work every 96 minutes in 2022, Truthout reported.

The BLS data also reveal “marked racial disparities,” with the average rates of workplace deaths for Black workers (4.2 per 100,000 full-time workers) and Latiné workers (4.6 per 100,000) “distinctly higher” than the average rate of 3.7 workplace deaths per 100,000 full-time workers.

Immigrant employees are especially vulnerable. Truthout quoted Tracey Cekada, chair of the Department of Safety Sciences at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP), “Fatalities among foreign-born Hispanic or Latiné workers need to be addressed, as we are seeing a growing number of Spanish-speaking employees enter the workforce. These communication barriers put workers at risk.”

Walicek reported that IUP’s Safety Sciences Department “offers a Spanish language certificate to help safety professionals communicate with a diverse workforce,” and a “unique, and free” Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Consultation program. But programs such as these may not be sufficient to counteract the erosion of labor organizations and regulations.

The United States underperforms in providing worker safety when compared with other developed countries. According to the article, this a consequence of “the diminution of worker power and regulatory oversight” in the United States. A 2021 assessment by Arinite Health and Safety, a consulting firm, found that US worker safety rates fall below those in the UK, Canada, Australia, and much of Europe, Walicek reported.

Surprisingly, there has been almost no coverage of the BLS findings by corporate news media. The BLS released its Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries report in December 2023, and yet, as of March 2024, no major US daily newspaper appears to have covered the report. In December 2023, FOX 9, the Minneapolis-St. Paul FOX News affiliate, ran a story focused on the census’s findings for Minnesota, which found that 81 state residents were fatally injured on the job in 2022. But this local coverage focused on Minnesota and did not address the national trends detailed in the full BLS report. A lack of corporate news coverage not only hides the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries findings from the public but also diminishes the urgency to address workplace safety at a national level.

Source: Tyler Walicek, “1 US Worker Dies on the Job Every 96 Minutes, Latest Data Shows,” Truthout, February 17, 2024.

Student Researcher: Adrien Louis (City College of San Francisco)

Faculty Evaluators: Jennifer Levinson and Sentura Tubbs (City College of San Francisco)