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The number of workers aged between 55 and 64 that are being fatally injured on the job is 4.3 per 100,000. When you look at employees aged 65 plus, this number rockets to 9.6 - which is far higher than the national average fatal injury rate of 3.5. While some may argue that these deaths are occurring as a result of the aging population’s declining ability, President Trump’s administration policies certainly have a significant role to play, as the number of federal workplace safety inspectors have dropped dramatically in recent years.

Older Workers

OSHA cuts

Since Trump became president, the Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have cut the total number of workplace safety inspectors they employ to their lowest ever level.

Since Trump became president, the Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have cut the total number of workplace safety inspectors they employ to their lowest ever level. Before Trump’s appointment, the organization employed 815 workplace inspectors, but following a federal hiring freeze, this number has now dropped to 752. OSHA’s role is to ensure that workplaces are safe working environments that are free from harm. They tend to target the most hazardous industries where injuries and fatalities are most common, but the sheer lack of inspectors is putting workers, and in particular older employees, at great risk.

Common fatal injuries

A review conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found that older workers are most likely to be fatally injured on roadways, with around 25% of all injuries in those aged 55 and over occurring on the roads. Older workers are also more likely than younger workers to lose their lives after being struck by an object or falling debris. The BLS also found that older workers have a tendency to pass away a significant time after a workplace injury has occurred. This suggests that older workers need better aftercare and monitoring following an incident in the workplace.

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Serious incidents

The OSHA should, in theory, inspect a workplace immediately after a serious incident during which a worker has been hospitalized, but a limited number of inspectors means they’re not always doing this. Injured older workers are, therefore, going back to unsafe workplaces, which are heightening their injuries and, in some cases, leading to the worse. When this occurs, wrongful death attorneys can step in to ensure that the worker’s death wasn’t in vain. They’ll ensure that the appropriate legal action is taken against all the relevant parties and may even work with the worker’s family to help them claim compensation.

Fewer inspections

Under the Labor Department, the OSHA has been given an additional $24 million for the 2020 fiscal year, compared to 2019’s budget. Part of this budget is to be used to get 30 new workplace safety officers on board. Despite this, the OSHA has warned that workplace inspections will reduce throughout 2020, as their most experienced officers will have to train the new officers that they employ. They’ll also be needed to supervise inexperienced officers until they are fully qualified and able to complete inspections on their own. This will inevitably put older vulnerable employees at even greater risk of a fatal injury.

The number of workplace fatalities among the older generation is alarmingly high, and there’s no denying that Trump’s cuts are to blame. Action should, therefore, be immediately taken to provide safer working environments for all, so that the number of older people losing their lives at work doesn’t continue to rise.

Cindy Trillo

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