(Source: Press release from the National Counsel for Occupational Safety and Health, April 26, 2023)
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 includes:
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.
“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.”
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.
See the National COSH website for the full list of “Dirty Dozen” employers for 2023-24.