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Living with the Future in Mind
Goals and Indicators for New Jersey's Quality of Life
First Annual Update to the Sustainable State Project Report 2000

Indicator 25


Additional  Healthy People  Indicators

22 - Life Expectancy

23 - Infectious Diseases

24 - Asthma

Workplace Fatalities

Job fatalities per 100,000 workers: Little recent change

  Things to think about 

In most types of work in New Jersey, it is safer to do the job than to drive to that job.

Early in America’s industrial revolution, child exploitation, 18-hour workdays, low pay, and hazardous conditions were common. We have come a long way.

Although job-related injuries have declined as our economy has shifted from manufacturing to services, there has been increased recognition of such disabilities as carpal tunnel syndrome in "white collar" occupations.

Although we have improved conditions for our workers, many of the products we buy are imported from countries that have lower safety and environmental standards.

*See the Technical Appendix for an explanation of the change from total workers in the chart used in the 1999 Sustainable State Report to a rate per million used this

Importance

One measure of a successful economy is its ability to care for its workers. Since the beginning of the industrial revolution, we have fought for and won significant rights for workers, including the right to a safe working environment. As a result, we have seen the rate of worker injuries and deaths drop significantly in the past 150 years. Accidents cannot be eliminated entirely but many current causes of occupational injury and illness are avoidable. Lead is but one example of a contaminant that causes illness through occupational exposure.

Economic

Occupational injuries destroy careers and undercut family livelihoods. They also raise the rates that we pay for insurance, the cost of doing business, and the cost we pay for products and services. Some jobs are undesirable to workers because of the risk of injury.

Environmental

Environmental issues are generally not associated with workplace fatalities. However, environmental contaminants are among the causes of occupational harm. The contaminants list is long and includes many chemicals unknown to most of us. We can also infer that a company that does not care for its workers does not care for the environment.

Social

The devastating social effects of injuries have been dramatized successfully in movies and novels. The language of public policy and economics does not capture the emotional loss and the harm to families, communities, and incomes that comes when one of a household’s breadwinners is hurt or killed.

Knowledge Gaps

Lead poisonings and fatalities are only two of the various hazards that a worker can be exposed to on the job. Better indicators, which integrate worker health and safety statistics, are needed.

Data Source: NJ Department of Health & Senior Services

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Copyright © State of New Jersey, 1996-2006
Department of Environmental Protection
P. O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

Last Modified: April 27, 2007

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