National COSH Announces “Dirty Dozen” Unsafe Employers for 2023

Amazon, Tesla, FedEx, Norfolk Southern and Class I Railroads Among Companies Singled Out

Injuries, Fatalities on the Rise as Black and Brown Workers Suffer Highest Rates of On-the-Job Deaths

The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH) announced today the “Dirty Dozen” list of employers who put workers and communities at risk due to unsafe practices. The Dirty Dozen report is released each year as part of the observance of Workers’ Memorial Week, which takes place this year from April 23 through April 30.

“The rate of U.S. workplace fatalities from sudden trauma is on the rise, and so is the rate of workplace injuries and illnesses,” said Jessica E. Martinez, MPH, co-executive director of National COSH. “So it’s more important than ever that employers meet their legal and ethical responsibility to provide a safe workplace.”

Nationwide data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, said Martinez, shows that Latino/a and Black workers are dying on the job at a higher rate than other workers. “Racist and discriminatory practices which assign Black and Brown workers to the dirtiest and most dangerous jobs have real life consequences and cannot be tolerated in our workplaces,” she said.

In addition to focusing on alarming national trends, said Martinez, it’s important to look at the safety practices – and failures – of specific employers. “We are highlighting companies where it’s clear that more can be done to prevent injuries, illnesses and fatalities,” she said. “The path forward is to empower workers as real partners in workplace safety, because workers know where the hazards are and how to eliminate them.”

This year’s Dirty Dozen, in alphabetical order:

Amazon: Multiple deaths at Amazon warehouses in 2022, and citations at seven locations for work practices that “cause serious injuries.”

FedEx: Three workers die at the shipping giant’s Memphis hub in 2022. Injuries and fatalities on the rise company-wide.

Hanover Company, Lithko Contracting, Friends Masonry Construction:

Three Latino construction workers die when scaffolding collapses on a Hanover project. Lithko Contracting cited nine times by OSHA, including one citation (now deleted) for a scaffolding violation.

Norfolk Southern and Class One Freight Railroads: BNSF, CSX, Kansas City Southern, Union Pacific, Canadian Pacific, Canadian National Railway:

Rail workers warn of safety problems long before the catastrophic derailment in Ohio. “Precision Scheduled Railroading” (PSR) cuts staff, reduces time for safety inspections and puts extra-long trains on the nation’s railways.

Occidental Chemical, Westlake Chemical: Olin Corp., a major manufacturer, has endorsed an EPA ban on asbestos; other chemical companies are still fighting this safety proposal, despite 40,000 U.S. deaths a year.

Packer Sanitation Service Inc. (PSSI), JBS Foods, Cargill, Tyson:

More than 100 children found working illegally in dangerous meat and poultry plants; 85% of them were working at JBS, Cargill or Tyson.

Sonoma WISE: Despite opposition from growers using astroturf tactics, California farmworkers win significant victories to counter extreme weather hazards caused by climate change.

Swissport International AG Companies: Workers exposed to raw feces and other unsafe conditions; company cited 35 times by OSHA for safety violations since 2013.

Tenet Healthcare Corporation: Tenet staff say their employer cuts corners on safety. Since 2001, the company has paid over $1.8 billion in fines for false claims, bribery and kickbacks, health and safety and other violations

Tesla, Inc:  A construction worker dies in 98-degree heat at Tesla’s gigafactory in Austin. Worker testimony shows contractors pass out fake certificates instead of providing real safety training.

Trulieve Cannabis Corp: Truelieve worker dies from an asthma attack after inhaling cannabis dust. Company cited seven times by OSHA for safety violations.

Twin Peaks Restaurant: So-called “breastaurant” chain has faced multiple claims of sexual harassment. Workers in Tennessee went on strike in January to protest physical and verbal abuse.

“Unfortunately, members of our union will tell you that the Class I freight railroads have certainly earned their place on the ‘Dirty Dozen,” said Vince Verna, a veteran locomotive engineer who is vice president of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET).  “Precision Scheduled Railroading, which cuts back on staff and reduces time for critical safety inspections, is precisely the wrong approach to ensuring safety on our nation’s railways. And now the companies are trying to make it worse by lobbying for one-man crews.”

“Here’s a better idea,” said Verna. “Let’s work together and listen to the people who are working on the railroads, so we can improve safety and get these companies off the list next year.”

Carl Rothenhaus, a Swissport airline services worker from Boston, detailed some of the hazards he’s witnessed at Logan international airport.  “It’s because of companies like Swissport that we are taking our demands for good, union jobs to Congress and urging them to pass the Good Jobs for Good Airports Act,” he said. “Working people everywhere – from all races and backgrounds – deserve a seat at the table, living wages, respect and dignity on the job.

“My cousin’s death was 100% preventable. She lost her life far too soon, and it breaks my heart that she’ll never have a chance to achieve her dreams.” said Alisha Bounds.  Her cousin, Lorna McMurrey, died just before her 28th birthday from a severe asthma attack after inhaling cannabis dust at a cannabis production facility owned by Trulieve in Holyoke, MA.

“Lorna had no pre-existing condition, and Trulieve took away the personal protective equipment (PPE) that she and other workers needed,” said Bounds, who grew up with McMurrey; they called each other sister/cousin.  “We want to do all we can to improve conditions in this industry, so no other family has to suffer this kind of tragic and preventable loss.

The Dirty Dozen are selected by the National COSH team, with nominations from our network of COSH groups, workers, safety activists, union members, health and safety professionals and academic experts from across the country.

Criteria include the severity of risks to workers; repeat and serious violations of safety standards and applicable laws; the position of a company within its industry and the economy and its ability to influence broader workplace standards, and the presence of a campaign by workers and/or allies to correct health and safety problems.

Workers Memorial Week is a global event which remembers workers who lost their lives on the job and their families, as well as recognizing those who suffer from occupational injuries and illnesses. The event is marked by worker actions, vigils and rallies around the world, with a focus on winning safer working conditions to avoid future preventable tragedies.

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