Government Polices Have Hurt Economy, But Saved Lives
The American workplace is getting a lot safer - or “more safe” in CNNese - with far fewer work-related deaths than there were just a decade ago. In 2011, 4,609 people died in work-related accidents, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ annual report on workplace fatalities. That is down 1.7% from 2010, when 4,690 people died on the job and 22% from the 5,915 who were killed in a work-related accident in 2001. The official story for the decline from the mainstream is that new OSHA regulations and possibly companies not willing to train new employees is to credit for the “more safe” workplace environments.
The US government has done its fair share to help the phenomenon. Rules and regulations over the last decade have put a damper on the economy, thus ensuring high unemployment levels. Less people in the workplace has resulted in less people getting hurt in the workplace. In contrast, in the early 80s fatalities were running about 7o00 per year, many of which were in manufacturing. Also responsible for the lack of fatalities in the US is a shift away from manufacturing jobs into services as factory jobs have been outsourced. A downturn in construction also accounts for the drop in workplace deaths.
As CNN reported that “workplaces get more safe” (proper English?), other media outlets were reporting that a military veteran was holding an office worker hostage inside a downtown office building in Pittsburgh. So, while workers have left to fear in the face of their office equipment and car accidents, they ought to look on at their colleagues with skepticism of their mental stability amid a tightening economy, overstepping government regulation and a sufficiently drugged populace.
Since 1970, workplace fatalities have been reduced by more than 65 percent, as occupational injury and illness rates have declined by 67 percent. Worker deaths in the US are down, from about 38 worker deaths a day in 1970 to 13 a day in 2010. Also since 1970s, the US economy has stagnated, and workers have not received adequate raises so as to keep up with inflation. Also starting in the 1970s, especially under Carter late in the decade, the US began deindustrializing and moving towards its service based economy of today.
Or, perhaps workplace conditions are getting safer. If this is the case, the view held by many that unions are necessary to protecting workers would be rendered patently false. For, in 2011, the nation’s union membership rate continued a decades-long decline, falling to 11.8 percent of the American workforce, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That was down from 11.9 percent in the previous year.
In consideration of all the facts and figures presented, the objective observer must surrender his or her preconceived notions about the relevance and efficiency of government to admit that, were it not for the government hurting the economy, namely the manufacturing sector, over multiple decades, workplace fatalities might not be in decline. In other words, destructive economic policies by governments save lives.