Workplace Accidents On the Rise as Trump Administration Continues to Gut Vital Safety Regulations
Workplace accidents and fatalities are on the rise amid a continuing campaign by the Trump Administration and its allies in Congress to gut vital safety regulations enacted to prevent deadly accidents and explosions at the nation’s industrial plants, refineries, and pipelines.
5,190 Preventable Worker Deaths in 2017
According to a recently-published AFL-CIO report, 2017 saw 5,190 preventable worker deaths, up from 4,836 in 2016.
That averages to about 14 fatal workplace accidents every day, the highest death rate since 2010.
The grim figure does not include workers who die from occupational diseases, estimated to be 50,000–60,000 each year.
Nearly 3.7 Million Suffered Work-Related Injuries & Illnesses in 2016
2017 also saw nearly 3.7 million workers across all industries, including state and local governments, suffer work-related injuries and illnesses that were reported by employers.
Of these, 2.9 million were reported by private industry.
According to the AFL-CIO, however, the true number is estimated to be two to three times greater, as worker injuries and illnesses are widely under-reported.
Trump’s Regulatory Cutbacks May Result in Even More Worker Deaths
Unfortunately, the situation is expected to grow much worse, as the Trump Administration and the Republican majority in Congress continues a campaign to weaken or eliminate vital workplace safety regulations.
Among other things, the report notes that since taking office, President Trump has signed a number of executive orders to either roll back or review existing worker safety regulations. He has also signed more than a dozen bills that eliminated regulations enacted by the Obama Administration.
Many of the workplace safety rules targeted by Trump include those intended to prevent deadly plant, refinery, and pipeline explosions.
For example, the President’s most recent budget proposed to eliminate the U.S. Occupational Health & Safety Administration’s worker safety and health training program, as well as the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, the agency responsible for determining the root cause of major chemical disasters.
Under Trump, the U.S. Department of Transportation has also weakened or withdrawn more than a dozen safety regulations, including those intended to reduce the risk of explosions, spills, and other accidents along the nation’s 2.4 million-mile oil and natural gas pipeline network.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has targeted the Chemical Disaster Rule, which was drafted in the wake of a catastrophic fertilizer plant explosion that virtually destroyed the town of West, Texas and killed more than a dozen people in 2013.
The Administration has also abandoned a rule proposed to reduce the risk of plant explosions from combustible dust and it has undermined vital offshore drilling regulations that were put in place following the deadly 2010 Deepwater Horizon offshore oil rig explosion.
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