In its annual report on workplace safety, The Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (MassCOSH) has detailed the high rate of death, injury, and disease which Massachusetts workers continue to suffer. Enforcement and prevention by OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, is still seen as lacking, and an audit of OSHA nationwide demonstrated a failure to enforce job safety laws against employers which repeatedly risk injury and death to workers. OSHA is underfunded and understaffed and incapable of completing comprehensive worksite inspections.
According to the MassCOSH report, sixty-six workers lost their lives on the job in 2008. These deaths were caused by transportation accident, falls, commercial fishing, workplace violence, crushing injuries, electrocution, and toxic substances. Falls continued to be a common cause of workplace deaths, and most of these were construction accidents.
In addition to the high rate of death in the workplace, almost 90,000 workers in the private jobs sector (which excludes self-employed and public sector workers) suffered some form of work injury. While Massachusetts did not have the highest rate of workplace injury, the rate of serious injuries and illnesses, resulting in lost time from work, was higher than the national average.
Occupational disease also remains a very serious concern, and the scope of this problem is not completely known. Certain diseases, such as mesothelioa, occupational cancers, work-related asthma, and lead poisoning are tracked, but the diagnoses of these diseases is not always related to the job, even if it was caused by a workplace exposure.
The complete report released by MassCOSH, entitled Dying for Work in Massachusetts, Loss of Life and Limb in Massachusetts Workplaces, is available at the MassCOSH website. MassCOSH sponsored Worker Memorial Day at the Massachusetts State House on April 28th.
Breakstone, White & Gluck, a Massachusetts construction accident law firm, is a proud sponsor of the work of MassCOSH, which is making Massachusetts workplaces safer for all, and which is working to increase the rate and quality of workplace safety inspection and enforcement.