Earlier this week, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported an increase in the number of workers killed in 2022, as well as a higher rate of workplace death. I’ve looked a little more closely at the data and a few things of interest stand out.

Most of the Increase was in OSHA State Plan States

Twenty-one states and Puerto Rico run their own full private/public sector OSHA state plans. These states issue and enforce standard for all private and public sector workers in their states. (There are also 6 states plus the Virgin Islands that run “public-employee-only” state plans.) These state plan states are required to operate programs that are “at least as effective as” the federal OSHA program.

But the data released by BLS shows that over 80% of the increase in worker deaths in 2022 occurred in the 21 state plan states. Nationally, a total of 296 more workers were killed on the job in 2022 than in 2021. Most of that increase can be attributed to state plan states (not including Puerto Rico) where 245 more workers were killed in the workplace in 2022 than in 2021.

Furthermore, 15 out of the 21 state plan states saw an increase in the number of workers killed in 2022. Only 19 of 30 federal states (including the District of Columbia) saw increases in 2022.

Of the state plan states, Hawaii saw the biggest percentage increase in 2022 — a 67% increase with deaths increasing from 15 to 25.  Arizona was not far behind with a 54% increase from 67 to 103 deaths.  OSHA had started the process of withdrawing Arizona’s plan but stopped the process after Governor was elected in 2022 and committed to beefing up the program. (Mississippi, a federal state, had the highest percent increase of any state: 90%. Deaths in Mississippi went from 41 workplace deaths in 2021 to 78 in 2022.

Last week I wrote about an effort by an labor union to withdraw OSHA’s approval for South Carolina’s state OSHA plan. From 2021 to 2022, the number of deaths in South Carolina rose from 107 to 132, a 23% increase.

Foreign Born Hispanic Construction Workers Die More

Another troubling item was the sharply rising number of foreign born Latino workers who were killed in the workplace in 2022. Many foreign-born workers may be undocumented and therefore vulnerable to retaliation and reluctant complain about unsafe conditions or to call government officials for help.workers killed

As you can see from the graph on the right (which does not include 2022), the number of foreign-born Hispanic workers killed on the job has risen sharply over the past decade.

The number of Hispanic workers killed in the workplace rose from 1230 in 2021 to 1248 in 2022, only a 1% increase. But the number of Hispanic construction workers killed on the job in 2022 rose from in 297 2021 to 359,  a 21% increase. And the number of foreign-born Hispanic construction workers killed in the job in 2022 rose 24% from 2021 –228 in 2021 to 283 in 2022.

That means that out of 85 additional construction workers killed on the job in 2022, 55 were foreign born Hispanic workers — almost two-thirds of the increase.

OSHA Assistant Secretary Doug Parker issued a statement responding to these findings, stating that ‘No worker should ever be disadvantaged because of their skin color or ethnicity; and that is never truer than when it comes to their lives and health. This is why the Department of Labor has expanded its efforts to protect those disproportionately at risk of injuries and illnesses on the job.”

Other Upsetting Data

  • Food preparation and serving workers saw more than a doubling of homicides from 2019 (22) to 2022 (46).
  • The number of African American workers killed by homicide in the workplace rose from 108 in 2020 to 175 in 2022, a 24% increase over 2 years.
  • Local government workers saw a 8% rise in fatalities, from 280 to 303. Local government employees are not covered by OSHA in 23 states.


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