As the Missouri legislature winds down and high-profile tragedies in the U.S. and worldwide are still fresh in our minds, a new report shows Missouri has a long way to go on workplace safety. According to “Death on the Job: The Toll ofNeglect,” released by the AFL-CIO on Tuesday, Missouri ranks 35th in the nation in workplace safety.
Just one worker killed on the job is too many, but the report details 132 Missouri workers who went to work in 2011 and never made it back home. At a rate of 4.9 deaths per 100,000 workers, this puts Missouri behind 34 out of 50 states. Neighboring Arkansas and Kansas are among the worst states for workplace fatalities, along with North Dakota, Wyoming and Montana.
Missouri AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer Mike Louis said politics is a factor. “While too many people are dying on the job right here in Missouri, too many of our elected officials are trying to make it more difficult for Missourians to exercise their collective bargaining rights to ensure health and safety protections at work,” said Louis.
“Some of the most dangerous states in the country are so-called ‘right to work’ states – and that’s no coincidence. In states were fewer workers are able to have a voice on the job and to advocate for better working conditions, corporations cut corners and take risks that cause devastating consequences.”
Another issue cited in the report is underfunding of enforcement agencies. Due to a lack of staffing it would take the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) a whopping 111 years to inspect each workplace in Missouri – just once.
Louis said “Our elected leaders should find ways to make things better and reduce these tragic numbers, not push more dangerous legislation like ‘right to work’ and paycheck deception. Workplace safety needs to be a priority on the federal, state and local level.”
Across the country there’s much work to do. The report notes that in 2011, there were 4,693 workplace deaths due to traumatic injuries and more than 3.8 million workers across all industries, including state and local government, who experienced work-related illnesses and injuries.