More than 5,300 people died on the job in 2019.
In a 12-year high, a worker died every 99 minutes, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported in its annual statement.
This marked a 2% increase of 2018, but a 10.3% leap from 2015 to 2019. But it was the racial disparity contained in this increase that jumped out.
While some jobs and industries were more dangerous than others, a glaring statistical change was in the racial disparities evident in a breakdown of the numbers.
Among white workers the five-year rate increased 1.7%, while Hispanic and Latinx workers saw a 20% leap, Black and African American deaths jumped 28%, and Asian-American fatalities grew by 59%, as the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (COSH) pointed out.
“Why are workplace deaths increasing so much faster for Black workers, Latinx workers and Asian American workers?” said Jessica Martinez, co-executive director of National COSH, in a statement. “The answer lies in decades of racism and discrimination, with workers of color routinely being assigned to the dirtiest and most dangerous jobs.”
With more and more workers doing “insecure, precarious jobs,” without union protection, has eroded many workplace protections, she said.
“When our labor standards deteriorate, the most vulnerable workers suffer the most.”
Industrywise, drivers died in the highest numbers, but with 145 deaths per 100,000 people, fishing and hunting industry workers actually had the highest mortality rates, noted CNN.
Demographically, workers over age 55 were 38% of all workplace fatalities, the BLS said in a statement summarizing the findings. That was up from 1992, when just 20% of workplace fatalities were among those aged 55 and over.
Resident military fatalities dropped by 21%, the BLS said.
The BLS has been conducting the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries since 1992, the agency’s website says.