It’s not news to you that around 9:00 p.m. on January 2, 2023, millions witnessed Damar Hamlin suffer a work-related injury and watched as emergency responders revived and transported him from his “production floor” to a nearby hospital. What might be news is that twelve hours earlier, in Charlotte, NC, a small group of workers witnessed three colleagues fall 70 feet to their death when the scaffold they were working on collapsed and that three days before, a worker in Baltimore, MD died when a piece of equipment he was repairing fell and crushed him.
Hamlin’s injury got well-deserved attention – television airtime, media headlines, tweets, memes and important discussions that centered on how his employer (the NFL) could improve safety. If safety were the driver of all the attention, one would expect the Charlotte and Baltimore incidents to receive a similar level of coverage and discussion, at least at a local or statewide level.
Prior to January 2, 2023, many of us had never heard of Damar Hamlin. It was a very valid concern for his job-related safety that put him in the news. However, not all worker safety issues receive equal attention. In fact, two months ago the Bureau of Labor Statistics released data showing an 8.9% increase in fatal work injuries compared to the previous year. Using the numbers from their report as a basis, it is likely that on the same day of Damar Hamlin’s accident, 14 American workers lost their lives to on the job injuries, including the 3 from Charlotte, NC. If workplace safety were a priority, you would already know that. Unfortunately, it’s not news.