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2015 fatality data gives snapshot of hazards faced by American workers

Anthony Gabriele was engulfed in dry cement when a steel storage silo collapsed in Bristol, Pennsylvania.

Michael James and Rube Solorio were doing maintenance on a dam elevator in Del Rio, Texas, when their scaffolding fell into the water below.

Aimee Bearden and Marie Sanderson died in an explosion in a fireworks plant in Owens Cross Roads, Alabama.

The deaths of all these workers- and thousands more — are chronicled in the U.S. Worker Fatality Database, a volunteer effort to document and map the annual toll who die on the job. The Database includes over 1,800 fatalities from 2014 and 1,073 for the first seven months of 2015.

Aimee Cothran Bearden, 43,   was one of two workers killed in February at the Ultratec fireworks factory in Alabama. The company has a history of incidents that injure or kill workers, and has been repeatedly cited and fined by U.S. OSHA.

“The public has a critical need for information about the men and women who perish every day harvesting our food, building our homes, extracting our fuel and doing all the other jobs that move our economy,” says Bethany Boggess, research analyst at the Workers’ Defense Project and one of the founders of the U.S. Worker Fatality Database. “Every one of these deaths is preventable, but without timely knowledge of who is dying on the job and why, our prevention efforts will fall short,” says Boggess.

The new dataset includes:

The project captures only a portion of workers who die on the job from traumatic injuries. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries has listed over 4,500 cases for each of the past five years. But the data collected by the volunteers behind the U.S. Fatality Database provides much more detail than any existing government source: two-thirds of the cases in the U.S. Worker Fatality Database include the name of the deceased worker. The database also provides, where available, the employer, industry, cause of death, and links to more information.

The data provides an essential snapshot of the state of worker safety in the U.S. Out of the 1,073 death documented:

  • 199 died in transportation incidents.
  • 144 workers died in falls.
  • 34 were crushed.

Our readers are encouraged to participate in this open-source project. To report an on-the-job fatality, or a fatality from long-term exposures to workplace hazards, visit our U.S. Fatality Data Project page. There you can access forms- in both English and Spanish — to easily report worker deaths.