Friday, May 11, 2007

Revised U.S. Dept. of Labor Statistics

Letter To Editor

Ms. Pallack:

I'm sure you have noticed by now -- or at least I hope so -- the revised annual data of the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI). The updated data was released April 17 by the U.S. Dept. of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and it does not include good news, unfortunately.

What was reported previously as 5,702 work-related deaths in the U.S. in 2005 was really 5,734 (the preliminary 2006 statistics won't be released until this Fall). An epidemic, natural disaster, terrorist attack or war that produced that many casualties would be front-page news everyday, yet this information is tucked away for the good of Big Business and what that Big Business is perceived to mean to our economy.

One of the most shocking trends is in Arizona, where 99 fatalities occurred in 2005, an 18 percent increase from 2004's total of 84. My nephew and Godson, Ian Michael Beal, was one of 80 Arizona workers who perished on the job in 2003. That's a total of 263 workers who died in Arizona in a three-year span. Am I the only one dismayed by this news?

The BLS report does not break down the Arizona total into regions. I am not certain how many of the 99 who died on the job in Arizona in 2005 are from Southern Arizona. I would guess a vast majority of the cases happened Maricopa County, but a few of the cases must have occurred in Pima County.

I'm certain my previous e-mail questioning the Star's reluctance to write a story about Workers Memorial Day on April 28 fell on deaf ears. Meanwhile, I'm sure your paper will run articles about veterans on Memorial Day. No argument here that those stories are meaningful and warranted, especially considering what the sacrifice those who lost their lives in World War I and II meant not only for our country, but our civilized world.

But consider this: In the last generation, meaning in the more than 30 years that have transpired since the end of the Vietnam War, the amount of casualties in wars participated by the U.S. is dwarfed by the number of workers who died while building our homes (or cabins in Ian's case), roads, highways, and buildings of commerce.

Since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, the U.S. has fought in the Persian Gulf War (1990-91), the Afghanistan War (2001-present) and Iraq War (2003-present). The latter two are coined as "The War on Terror" by the Bush Administration. The total of U.S. forces casualties in these three conflicts is 3,947 (382 in the Persian Gulf War, 369 in the Afghan War and 3,196 in the Iraq War).

The almost 4,000 who have perished in that region is 4,000 too much, but it still pales in comparison to the 84,446 who died on the job in the U.S. from 1992 (a year after the Gulf War ended) through 2005, according to the BLS statistics (check them out yourself if you don't believe me).

Why is Workers Memorial Day not taken more seriously by your newspaper and the media in general (although many of the large-city newspapers ran articles) with this in mind? I know the answer one of your editors would tell me (because he already has) -- the general public in Tucson does not care about workplace fatalities. Is it that the general public does not care or is it that the general public does not know?

I think you know the answer -- or, again, at least I hope so.

Javier Morales
Editor and Designer of

Pardon me for not mentioning all the agricultural workers, textile workers, miners, retail workers, warehouse workers and longshore and harbor workers who have also lost their lives on the job.

Workplace death toll is high
Becky listened, let her know what you think!

3 day laborers among '05 fatalities
S. Ariz. work sites more dangerous

13 deaths, one near-fatal accident in 2005 set a record for the region S. Arizona employers are cited for poor training, lack of crisis care
By Becky Pallack
Arizona Daily Star
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 02.12.2006

Recognizing hazards in the workplace

Joe Couture, The Leader-Post
Published: Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The need is everywhere penny pinching and time crunching kill and maim and no one seems to notice until it affects them. It is too late by then, the damage is done and the cycle continues.

There will be a day when Families, Organizations, a few in Government, and News heroically take a stand! Stop Killing Our Children, Our Fathers and Our Mothers. Take notice of the war going on right here in the US.

The pen is mightier than the sword, write your story and send it to your government offices, the news papers and call any station willing to listen. Let them hear your story and see your pain your loss is not a number or revised statistic. It is everyone’s responsibility and jointly we will achieve.

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