Workers’ Rights

Published — April 26, 2018 Updated — July 18, 2018 at 6:50 am ET

On Workers Memorial Day, a look at the state of worker safety


Worker safety in America is trending in the wrong direction. In 2016, the last year for which complete data are available, nearly 5,200 workers died of traumatic injury on the job, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Among them was Jim Spencer, a Nebraska plumber who suffocated in a trench. It was the third consecutive year with an increase in fatalities and the highest number since 2008.

It gets worse. According to the best government estimate, occupational disease kills another 50,000 people each year – more than homicides, suicides or traffic accidents.

Saturday is Workers Memorial Day, a time to remember those who lost their lives on the job. It seems an appropriate moment to review the Center for Public Integrity’s investigations of hazards that kill, maim and sicken the men and women who keep this country running.

Unequal Risk

Workers in America face risks from toxic exposures that would be considered unacceptable outside the job — and in many cases are perfectly legal.

>>Keep reading

Breathless and Burdened

This yearlong investigation, which earned the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting, examined how doctors and lawyers, working at the behest of the coal industry, helped defeat the benefits claims of miners sick and dying of black lung, even as disease rates are on the rise and an increasing number of miners are turning to a system that was supposed to help alleviate their suffering.

>>Keep reading

Death in the Trench

Jim Spencer suffocated under a pile of dirt in Nebraska — a grim reminder of the weakness of America’s worker-safety law.

>>Keep reading

Read more in Inequality, Opportunity and Poverty

Share this article

Join the conversation

Show Comments

Notify of
1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
4 years ago

I’ve been using Aircraft brand stripper for 20 years. It is the most effective and reliable product in my body shop for its purpose. I tried it the other day without this ingredient. It is the most useless stinky horrible stuff I’ve ever seen. I don’t know what this company is going to do now. They are definitely going to go bankrupt. I suppose it’s for the best , but what a bummer. Instead of spending 30 minutes stripping the old paint off of a hood, I spent three hours sanding it off and using tons of electricity and sandpaper.… Read more »