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Report: 134 Michigan workers died on the job in 2015

A steelworker straddling a beam
Christopher Peplin
Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

A new report from the AFL-CIO says 134 Michigan workers died on the job in 2015, while 96,000 suffered workplace-related injuries or illnesses.

Those numbers are down slightly from the previous year, but Zack Pohl with the Michigan AFL-CIO says the state still isn’t doing enough to make sure people are safe at work.

"Everyone deserves a safe workplace. They deserve to know that when they kiss their loved ones goodbye in the morning, they're going to come home safely at the end of the day," Pohl said.

When it comes to penalties for workplace safety violations, Michigan ranks 48th in the nation. The average penalty for a serious violation is a little over $750 -- less than half the national average.

Pohl says the state's low penalties are due in part to a lack of workplace safety inspectors. According to the report, Michigan currently has just 56 workplace and safety inspectors to cover 238,969 work sites.

“It would take those 56 inspectors about 51 years to visit each job site in Michigan just one time," Pohl said.

Michigan AFL-CIO president Ron Bieber says the state needs to get its priorities straight.

"Instead of giving more tax break to their corporate donors, Gov. Snyder and Republicans in the Legislature need to focus on improving lives for regular working people, and that includes safer workplaces," said Bieber.

Workers plan to gather for ceremonies in several cities around the state on Friday, to honor those who those who were hurt or killed on the job.

Rebecca Kruth is the host of All Things Considered at Michigan Public. She also co-hosts Michigan Public's weekly language podcast That’s What They Say with English professor Anne Curzan.