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National COSH releases “Killed at Work,” Naming Those Who Died on the Job in 2021 and 2022

Thursday, April 14, 2022
Press Contacts: 

Melissa Moriarty, melissa@nationalcosh.org  603-505-7135

National COSH releases “Killed at Work,” 

Naming Those Who Died on the Job in 2021 and 2022

 U.S. Worker Memorial Database, a partial catalog of recent deaths, includes names of workers;  

A resource for upcoming Workers’ Memorial Week observances April 23 thru May 1

 

LOS ANGELES – The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH) announced today the release of “Killed at Work,” the U.S. Worker Memorial Database of workers killed on the job in 2021 and so far in 2022.

“The workers who die needlessly at their jobs every year have names and we need to say them out loud,” said Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, co-executive director of National COSH. 

Workers who have died or become ill or injured on the job will be honored and remembered during worker actions, vigils and other events across the country and around the globe during Workers’ Memorial Week, which takes place this year from April 23rd through May 1st. Killed at Work, which features interactive maps of workplace fatalities, is a resource for unions, workers’ centers, partners and allies who are planning and taking part in Workers’ Memorial Week events. 

“When we say the names of workers who have been taken away – forever – from their families, these preventable deaths become real to all of us,” said Goldstein-Gelb.. “Confronting the reality of preventable, unsafe practices on the job is essential so that workers can gain power to win the safety improvements that will prevent further loss of life.”

The memorial database, a voluntary effort coordinated by National COSH, has identified over 2,100 workers who died on the job from traumatic incidents in their workplaces in 2021. In nearly every case, these deaths could have been prevented if employers followed established safety protocols.

Killed at Work is based on information about fatality investigations from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and is a partial catalog of deaths from workplace trauma in 2021 and 2022. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics will release a full Census of Fatal Occupational Industries (CFOI) for 2021 in December. It will include a much higher number of fatalities, typically 5,000 or more deaths each year in recent years. 

The CFOI  is a statistical summary. By contrast, Killed at Work includes names of workers and details, where available, of the circumstances of their deaths. Those who died in include:

 

  • Bobby Green, 55, a city employee in Huntsville, Alabama. Green was killed on September 2, 2021 when a trench collapsed on him and two of his coworkers while building a storm drain. The trench was 20 feet deep, four times as deep as OSHA regulation allows, but Alabama is one of 24 states where public employees like Green are not protected by these regulations. 
  • Janice Chastain, 58 and Sarah Lynn Anderson, 57 were best friends and co-workers at Conyers Middle School in Rockdale County, Georgia. Anderson was pressured to come to school with flu-like symptoms; out of sick days, she continued to work until she passed out at school on September 18th, 2021. Chastain had severe complications arising from her COVID-19 illness, and passed away in the hospital on September 25th. Ten days later, on October 25th, Anderson also died in the hospital. 

Rockdale County has claimed that they followed CDC guidelines. Robert Anderson, Sara’s widower, is less sure. “I know her manager didn’t follow CDC guidelines, because one of the first rules is if you’re sick, you got to stay home, and it’s mandatory they enforce that, and it didn’t happen.”

  • Edi Cañedo, 37  was washing windows for Sky High Window Cleaning on the eighth floor of a San Diego apartment building when the scaffolding he was using broke and he fell to his death. Canedo was expecting his third child when he was killed. Window washers require several pieces of well-maintained equipment to do their jobs safely, including harnesses, ropes, and scaffolding, each of which have parts that may wear down or fail. When employers do not equip workers with properly maintained and functioning equipment and fail to follow safety guidelines, it is workers like Cañedo who pay the price. 

 

Killed at Work and the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (which reports a larger number of deaths) are both focused on deaths from traumatic workplace events. An even larger number of workers – estimated at 95,000 each year in the United States – die from diseases linked to long-term exposure to asbestos, silicosis and other toxic substances. 

In addition, during the COVID-19 pandemic, deaths from workplace exposure to the virus have not been systematically tracked; very few appear in either OSHA or BLS records. More than 494,000 working-age Americans, between 18 and 64, died from COVID-19 between January 2020 and March 2022. It is not certain how many of these deaths were related to workplace exposures. 

Note to reporters and editors: In observance of Workers’ Memorial Week, National COSH will release the Dirty Dozen report on unsafe employers this coming Wednesday, April 27 at 2 pm ET.  Journalists can register here to join a Zoom call for the Dirty Dozen release event, which will feature a panel of workers from affected workplaces. 

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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.For more information, please visit nationalcosh.org. Follow us at National Council for Occupational Safety and Health on Facebook, @NationalCOSH on Twitter and @NationalCOSH on Instagram.