AFL-CIO, Workers, Job Fatality Rate

Job Fatality Rate For Black Workers Now Highest In Almost 15 Years

Transportation incidents were the top cause of death for Black workers, accounting for nearly a third of fatalities.

In its newly released Death on the Job report for 2024, the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) revealed that the job fatality rate for Black workers reached its highest point in 15 years.

The 33rd annual Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect review went public on April 24 and detailed the concerning statistics regarding Black workers. The report aims to address the evolving state of job safety, spreading awareness and insight into where measures may be lacking. Suggesting policy changes and dissecting the safety standards within each state, the report intends to address critical issues within the workforce that lead to injury and death.

Black and brown workers both face disproportionate rates of job fatality, with the former now in its fifth year of most deaths on the job over all other racial groups, according to the AFL-CIO. The Black employee mortality rate is now at 4.2 per 100,000 deaths, with 734 deaths occurring in 2022. This number rose by over 100 more fatalities from the year prior.

These racial disparities have persisted for years but are reaching new heights as the rate increases. Of the industries where the most harm occurs, transportation incidents were the biggest cause of death, accounting for nearly a third. Other dominant industries that incurred fatalities were food, manufacturing, and administrative and support services.

Moreover, there was also a 22% increase in Black worker fatalities from exposure to harmful substances or the environment. Over 100 Black workers died due to this, 72 of which were from an unintentional overdose, the outlet reports.

The AFL-CIO determined the contributing factor to these death rates stems from a lack of agency in the workplace. Racism in these environments can stifle worker’s ability to speak up about safety concerns due to fear of retaliation, leading to preventable deaths.

The federation believes that stronger enforcement of OSHA rules and protections will ensure that employees can fulfill their duties without the threat of losing their lives. As the number of Black worker fatalities becomes more prevalent, the work to ensure Black employees are protected and able to address safety issues remains critical to their livelihoods.