Top 12 Most Unsafe U.S. Employers Named
Amazon, Fedex Top the List
Just in time for Workers’ Memorial Week (April 23-30), the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH) has released its annual “Dirty Dozen” list – the 12 most unsafe employers in the U.S. – companies who put workers and communities at risk by engaging in unsafe practices.
The Dirty Dozen companies are selected by the National COSH team, with nominations from the organization’s network of COSH groups, WorkedUp partners, workers, safety activists, union members, health and safety professionals and academic experts from across the country. Criteria include:
- Severity of safety 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 broaderworkplace standards;
- Presence of a campaign by workers and/or allies to correct health and safety problems.
This year’s Dirty Dozen:
- Amazon – The company had multiple deaths at its warehouses in 2022, and was cited at seven locations for exposing workers to hazardous conditions. Due to previous appearances on the Dirty Dozen list, Amazon promised to make itself, “Earth’s Safest Place to Work.”
- FedEx – The delivery company had with three worker fatalities at its Memphis hub in 2022, including 32-year-old Jessica James, who was killed February 18 when the forklift she was driving flipped over and landed on her, crushing her to death. An investigation by Tennessee OSHA stated that the ramp James was driving on was defective and should not have been used. An inspection just two months earlier found the ramp “severely damaged” and needing “repairs for cracks, tires, and bolts that fasten the grating to the frame.
- Hanover Company, Lithko Contracting, Friends Masonry Construction – Three Latino construction workers died when scaffolding collapses on a Hanover project. Lithko Contracting had been 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 – Long before the catastrophic derailment and ensuring release of hazmat in Ohio, rail workers had warned the companies about safety problems. National COSH identified the “Precision Scheduled Railroading” (PSR) policy as a factor, because it cuts staff, reduces time for safety inspections and puts extra-long trains on the nation’s railways.
- Occidental Chemical, Westlake Chemical – There are 40,000 U.S. deaths each year from asbestos.
- Packer Sanitation Service Inc. (PSSI), JBS Foods, Cargill, Tyson – More than 100 children were found working illegally in high-hazard meat and poultry plants.
- Sonoma WISE – “While growers fight back with aggressive astroturf tactics, California farmworkers win significant victories to counter health hazards due to climate change,” according to National COSH.
- Swissport International AG Companies – Workers were exposed to raw feces and other unsafe conditions; the company has been cited 35 times by OSHA for safety violations since 2013.
- Tenet Healthcare Corporation Tenet – Staffers say their employer cuts corners on safety. Since 2001, the company has paid more than $1.8 billion in fines for false claims, bribery and kickbacks, health and safety and other violations
- Tesla, Inc – Worker testimony shows contractors passed out fake certificates instead of providing real safety training. 1a worker dies in 98-degree heat; the company has been cited more than 170 times for safety violations.
- Trulieve Cannabis Corp Truelieve – Worker dies from an asthma attack after inhaling cannabis dust; company has been cited seven times by OSHA for safety violations.
- Twin Peaks Restaurant – The so-called “breastaurant” chain “has a business model based on sexual harassment,” and has faced multiple claims relating to it. Workers in Tennessee went on strike in January of this year to protest physical and verbal abuse.
Workers Memorial Week, which is observed worldwide, honors workers who have become sick, injured, or lost their lives on the job. Rallies, vigils and other events are used to bring attention to the need for safer working conditions through collective action and stronger protections in workplaces. More than 160 million people in the U.S. civilian workforce include several alarming trends.
- A few key takeaways from National COSH:
- A total of 5,190 workers died from sudden workplace trauma in 2021.
- An estimated 95,000 workers die each year from long-term exposure to toxic substances and other workplace.
- Black and Latino workers face a significantly higher rate of death from sudden workplace trauma than white workers.
In what appears to be an expanding trend, workers at companies that previously had little or no union presence – like Amazon, Apple, REI, Trader Joe’s – are organizing to form or join unions. Some of the union activity is linked to increasing injury and fatality rates and dangerous working conditions.
Additionally, workers and advocates are pressuring the federal government to issue a nationwide heat standard and states to enact regulations to help protect them from the health and safety effects of climate change, which is exposing them to extreme weather, high temperatures, wildfire smoke, and other hazards.
National COSH said that its groups, workers centers and community-based organizations are helping workers puruse advocacy, legal and organizing strategies, including supporting a worker strike at a Twin Peaks restaurant and assisting workers at a Tesla site in Austin, Texas.
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