In an annual report, the country’s largest federation of labor unions ranks Indiana as one of the worst states in the country when it comes to worker deaths on the job.
The national AFL-CIO report looked at worker fatalities and injuries from 2018. Indiana saw 173 worker deaths that year, ranking it as the eighth worst state for fatalities and putting its death rate well above the national average of 3.5 deaths per 100,000 people. Even so, the average amount businesses were penalized for serious violations or workplace fatalities falls below the national average.
Brett Voorhies, president of the Indiana AFL-CIO, says the problem stems from a lack of OSHA inspectors after years of federal funding cuts under the Trump administration. Indiana’s OSHA office has just 37 inspectors to monitor more than 150,000 businesses.
“I think that office has needed to be revamped for quite some time, but now I think it’s even worse” he said. “And it couldn’t come at a worse time, during the pandemic.”
According to an earlier report from the Indiana Department of Labor, annual worker deaths in the construction industry more than doubled in 2018. Only three industries saw minor decreases in workplace fatalities