State Health Commissioner Honors Workers' Service

Each Year, Approximately 49,000 Deaths in the U.S. are Attributed to Work-Related Illnesses

ALBANY, N.Y. (April 26, 2013) – New York State Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah, M.D., M.P.H. is asking New Yorkers to remember the workers who have lost their lives on the job as the nation observes Workers Memorial Day on April 28.

"We honor the New Yorkers who have suffered and died on the job from workplace injuries and diseases", said Commissioner Shah. "This is a time to renew our efforts to promote a safe, healthy and productive workplace every day."

Four decades ago, Congress passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act, promising every worker the right to a safe job, According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) each year, approximately 49,000 deaths are attributed to work-related illnesses. There were 4,609 worker deaths nationwide according to the latest data collected by the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2011 New York State had 205 job-related fatalities.

Facts about New York Work-Related Fatalities:

  • Though New York ranked the 4th highest in the nation in total number of deaths (205), the actual fatality rate of 2.6 deaths/100,000 workers is among the lowest in the nation.
  • The leading cause of deaths in New York State, excluding New York City, is transportation incidents with 56 deaths (42%).
  • The leading cause of deaths in New York City was assault and violence incidents with 24 deaths (34%).
  • 39 (19%) victims were killed by fall injuries.
  • 133 (75%) victims were White Non-Hispanic, 30 (15%) were Hispanic/Latino, 29 (14%) were Black or African-American, and 7 (3%) were Asian.

This year's Workers Memorial Day also marks the second year of the national campaign to prevent deadly falls in the construction industry. Falls are the leading cause of worker deaths in construction, nationwide and throughout New York State. Each year in the U.S., more than 200 construction workers are killed and more than 10,000 are seriously injured by falls.

The State Department of Health assists in the prevention of job-related deaths through two programs: the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries and the New York State Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation program. For additional information visit: