32 workers killed on the job in Massachusetts last year

According to a recent report by the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (MassCOSH) and the AFL-CIO’s state affiliate, 32 workers died as a result of workplace accidents last year in Massachusetts. Another estimated 320 died as a result of occupational illnesses.

The deaths included a 43-year-old firefighter who died as a result of lung cancer, three fisherman who drowned at sea and a 50-year-old painter who died after falling from an ariel lift.

The report, which is called “Dying for Work in Massachusetts,” highlights the need for better enforcement of workplace safety regulations in the state, including tougher fines and penalties for employers who break them. The report also slams the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) as having fines that are “too little, too late.”

The report said that OSHA also lacks the “funding, staff and tools to deter violation,” and that serious workplace accidents continue to occur in Massachusetts because employers in the state ignore OSHA regulations and fail to meet even the basic safety requirements.

At its current rate, the report said it would take OSHA about 140 years to inspect every workplace under its jurisdiction Massachusetts, showing just how short-staffed the administration really is.

The recent report indicated that seven of the Bay State workers who died in 2012 were firefighters who were killed in the line of duty. Additionally, falls accounted for a total of six on-the-job fatalities. As usual, the construction industry proved to be one of the most dangerous in Massachusetts, also accounting for a total of six fatalities in 2012.

The “Dying for Work” report is released each year in conjunction with Workers’ Memorial Day, which is observed on April 28.

Source: EHS Today, “32 Workers Died on the Job in Massachusetts in 2012,” Laura Walter, April 25, 2013; The MetroWest Daily News, “Report highlights workplace deaths,” David Riley, April 25, 2013