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Harsher Penalties Needed

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There’s no question that one lesson from the fertilizer explosion in West, Texas is that we need much harsher fines and criminal statutes against corporations when workers die, as well as the regulatory structure to prosecute the owners of these corporations. The latest AFL-CIO Death on the Job Report, released this week, shows that according to data complied by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2011, 4,693 workers died on the job. That’s 13 workers every day. 50,000 workers died from occupational disease. Workers suffered between 7.6 and 11.4 million job injuries and illnesses.

This might just be an inconvenience for the corporations who employ these workers, but it is devastating to the workers and their families. They need real compensation for their pain and it needs to come out of corporate profits.

Meanwhile in Bangladesh, the factory collapse has now claimed the lives of at least 912 people, making it by far the greatest workplace accident in human history. And another factory fire has killed 8 people in that country, including, ironically, one of the biggest defenders of the nation’s unsafe factory system. The multinational clothing corporations responsible for this system will not suffer at all for all these deaths.

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