Honoring Fallen Workers, Making Workplaces Safer

During this Workers’ Memorial Week, when workers who have died or been injured on the job are recognized and honored, a new report serves as a reminder of the dangers that workers face every day – and the need to push for more health and safety reforms.

More than 4,600 workers were killed on the job in 2011, according to an analysis by the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (COSH), a grantee of the Public Welfare Foundation. The report, “Preventable Deaths: the Tragedy of Workplace Fatalities,” underscores the need for worker health and safety reforms by examining government data as well as telling the personal stories of some of those workers who died.

The report also highlights the troublesome rate of fatalities among immigrant workers compared to native-born workers. In 2011, more than two Latino workers were killed on the job every day, many of whom were immigrant workers.

Even when employers are cited for violations, the fines imposed are small enough that they can be considered a cost of doing business rather than a deterrent to addressing workplace dangers. According to the report, “The average fine under federal OSHA for a serious violation is a paltry $1,680. And in states with their own OSHA program, the average fine is even lower.”

To view the full report, click here.

To see activities during Workers’ Memorial Week, click here.

To read personal stories of dead and injured workers, click here.


The Public Welfare Foundation supports efforts to advance justice and opportunity for people in need. These efforts honor the Foundation’s core values of racial equity, economic well-being, and fundamental fairness for all. The Foundation looks for strategic points where its funds can make a significant difference and improve lives through policy and system reform that results in transformative change. For more information, visit Follow the Foundation on Twitter or on Facebook.

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