The number of workers killed on the job in 2011 in Illinois was 177. This is down from 206 in 2010, the data just released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics – but it’s still a lot, says Jorge Ramirez, president of the Chicago Federation of Labor. “These are deaths that don’t need to occur. These are deaths where the workplace is unsafe. These are mostly human error or a lack of attention to a healthy and safe work environment,” he said.
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The leading cause of death was transportation incidents with 54, followed by violence, 44; slips, trips and falls, 29; exposure to harmful substances, 25; contact with objects and equipment, 20; and fires and explosions, 4.
Ramirez says the Occupational Safety and Health Administration does not have the staff to conduct routine inspections; instead, they respond to complaints or come in after there has been a fatality. He says the weak employment economy also causes workers not to complain about unsafe conditions or practices, for fear of losing their jobs.