Aug. 23, 2004 – According to an analysis of state data by the Palm Beach Post, workers in Florida have bear the greatest risk of dying on the job. Floridaâ€™s death rate of 4.4 fatalities per 100,000 workers in 2002 was the highest in the nation, with Texas and California coming in second and third, respectively.
Floridaâ€™s huge construction and agricultural industries, which employ thousands of undocumented immigrants, are responsible for many of the deaths. Safety experts told the Post that workers typically die due to the lack of simple safety measures, like seat belts in vans transporting farm workers to fields and safety harnesses for construction workers climbing scaffolding.
"They're all avoidable, and that's the tragedy of it," Mark Ligon, the risk manager at Carpenter Contractors of America Inc. in Pompano Beach, told the Post. "Many companies won't make the investment in safety."
Union activists charge that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) does not spend enough time or money investigating workplace safety. The agency also can give employers a maximum fine of only $70,000 for the worst offenses.
"We're human beings," Tirso Moreno, an organizer with the Farmworker Association of Florida told the Post, "and it should be different."