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Alarming spike in workplace worker deaths in Massachusetts in 2021


The ‘Dying for Work’ report says there has been a 38% increase in workplace fatalities, with an increase in suicides and fatal drug overdoses.

A new report highlights a worrying increase in workplace fatalities in Massachusetts last year.

There were 62 workplace fatalities reported in 2021, a 38% increase from 2020, which saw 45. Although many workers were not working on site in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic , the researchers behind the report call the year-over-year rise “an alarming trend.” Thirty percent of those killed on the job were in the construction industry.

Of the Massachusetts workers killed on the spot in 2021, 46 were men and six were women. Their average age was 48 years old. The youngest worker killed was 19 and the oldest was 77.

“Yet this rate does not reflect the true number of worker lives lost in 2021 because it does not include those who died from exposure to COVID-19 at work, a toll we may not know. never really,” the report states.

The Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (MassCOSH) and the AFL-CIO of Massachusetts teamed up on the report, titled Dying for Work: Loss of Life and Limb in Massachusetts Workplaces.

According to the report, 72 workers died on the job in 2019 and 77 in 2018. The previous year, 80 Massachusetts workers died on the job.

The number of workplace suicides rose from 5 to 13 between 2020 and 2021. Nearly double that number, 25, died of workplace overdoses last year, according to the report. In 2020, this number was 18.

Nearly 20 of workplace fatalities in 2021 were due to transportation incidents. Other reasons for workplace fatalities include contact with equipment, falls, slips and trips, violence from people or animals, exposure to chemicals, fires and explosions, and occupational diseases – well that this reason is exclusive to 10 firefighters.


“Labour continues to kill and maim workers in alarming numbers and the COVID-19 pandemic has continued to impact workers with devastating results in 2021,” MassCOSH said in a press release. “This report was written to recognize workers and their families and shine a light on these tolls. The saddest aspect of the loss of life and limb is that work-related injuries and illnesses are preventable.

The report says there were nearly 70,000 incidents of nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses in Massachusetts in 2020, which is the most recent year for which data is available. Of these cases, 45,000 resulted in workers being absent or subject to job restrictions.

The Mass. AFL-CIO is the umbrella organization for more than 750 local unions, joint commissions and district councils representing workers across the state. MassCOSH is a non-profit organization made up of various unions and health and legal professionals with a mission to help workers earn fair wages in dignified conditions.


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