By the Numbers: Workplace Fatalities in Santa Clara County

A new report titled Dying at Work was released in time for May Day, a celebration of labor rights by nonprofit think tank Worksafe Inc. Here’s a look at some of the findings.

The number of documented employment-related fatalities in California in 2017, according to the report. That’s far less than the 376 workers who were killed the year before. An exhaustive tally is hard to come by, however, since the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t count deaths from occupational diseases that develop over time, and doesn’t include fatalities mistakenly attributed to natural causes or personal medical conditions.

The number of such deaths in Santa Clara County last year, including San Jose bouncer and Little League coach Frank “Pancho” Navarro, 35, who was stabbed while working security outside Tres Gringos on Feb. 26. Two Gilroy laborers also died on the job: John Vodanovich, 54, was crushed by a tree that fell on a work truck parked at his company’s maintenance shop on Feb. 27, and Pedro Douglas-Perez, 67, got run over by a tractor on Sept. 1. In March, 65-year-old spotter Alfredo Prado was run over by a truck while directing traffic at a Hollister landfill. Driver Benjamin Sanchez, 51, fatally crashed into a tree in Mountain View. And finally, 57-year-old laborer Jose Rivas died in a work truck that caught fire after a collision in Cupertino on Dec. 30.

Percentage of all U.S. workers killed on the job in 2016 who were classified as Latinos. The riskiest jobs include transportation, material moving and construction and extraction occupations. “California can and must do better,” the report concludes. “A protective workplace safety culture can only occur in the larger context of a worker-centered culture that values and protects workers, their families and their communities.”

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Worksafe Inc., Cal/OSHA


  1. Consistent with disparities noted in California and nationwide for many years, 349 (93%) of California’s 376 workplace fatalities in 2016 were male. Is this disparity a matter of concern? What might be done to reduce it?

    • Maybe Debug should get on this. After all, the percentage of males who died on the job to the total number of job site deaths far exceeds their percentage of the total workforce. And in SCC County, all the deaths were Spanish surnamed. Clear bias.

  2. “In 2015, for example, there were 4,836 workplace deaths, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of those, 4,492 were men, and 344 were women. In other words, men suffered 93% of workplace fatalities that year. This wasn’t some aberration. From 2011 through 2015, men accounted for 92.5% of all workplace deaths.”

    Of course, SJI glosses over this. Must be good exercise doing gymnastics around the progressive narrative. Sad!

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