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Greater Transparency Can Prevent Workplace Fatalities, Says National Safety Group

Thursday, September 11, 2014
Press Contacts: 

Roger Kerson: 734.645.0535 ; roger@rkcommunications.net

Bureau of Labor Statistics Must Release Data on
Where and How Workers Die on the Job

LONGMEADOW, MA -- The release today of the preliminary Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows the need for greater transparency and full disclosure about workplace deaths, says Mary Vogel, Executive Director of the National Council on Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH).

“We know that 4,405 U.S. workers died on the job in 2013, a tragic loss for their families and communities,” said Vogel. “We know that when final data is released, there will be even more fatalities to mourn. We know, based on decades of research and practice, that the vast majority of these deaths can be prevented. We also know how to prevent the tens of thousands of deaths, not included in today’s census, which result each year from long-term exposure to toxic chemicals, unsafe practices and other workplace hazards.”

“What we don’t know --- even though the Bureau of Labor Statistics collects this information – is the name of each victim, their employer, and the specific circumstances leading to their deaths.”

“We want to have as much factual information as we can about how our loved ones lost their lives at work,” said Tammy Miser of United Support and Memorial for Workplace Fatalities, a national organization which brings together surviving family members of workers who have died on the job. “Rather than just counting bodies, we need a complete accounting of the circumstances of each individual case. Understanding what happened in the past is crucial so we can save lives in the future.”

“We need greater disclosure and transparency to transform a data collection program into a public health tool,” said Celeste Monforton, who is a professorial lecturer at the School of Public Health and Health Services at George Washington University.

“Right now, we’re missing opportunities to prevent injuries and deaths because fatality information is hidden within inspection files,” she said. “The more we see, the more we know, the more successful we can be in preventing future tragedies.”

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National COSH links the efforts of local worker health and safety coalitions in communities across the United States, advocating for elimination of preventable hazards in the workplace. “Preventable Deaths 2014,” a National COSH report, describes workplace fatalities in the United States and how they can be prevented. For more information, please visit coshnetwork.org. Follow us at National Council for Occupational Safety and Health on Facebook, and @NationalCOSH on Twitter.