The number of U.S. workers who suffered fatal injuries on the job inched up for a second straight year, according to the most recent data, as a long era of budget cuts and dangerous state policies combined to imperil the ability of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to protect America’s workers.

U.S. unions have commemorated Workers Memorial Day every April 28 since 1970. The following April 28, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration opened. Canada observes a National Day of Mourning on the same day.

Those findings are among the latest wealth of data that the AFL-CIO publishes each spring leading up to Workers Memorial Day on April 28, a day when unions honor America’s fallen workers and draw attention to the fight at federal, state and local levels to prevent future tragedies.

That battle is fiercer than ever in states where GOP-controlled legislatures are waging war on worker protections, from rolling back child labor laws to killing rest and water breaks for workers in extreme heat.

“As big a challenge as it is at the federal level to rebuild OSHA and keep workers safe, we have an ally like never before in President Joe Biden,” International President Kenneth W. Cooper said. “That can’t be said for states controlled by anti-worker politicians and their cruel agendas. Workers are going to pay the price, and that’s a message we need to send loud on clear — not only on Workers Memorial Day but every day.”

So far, Florida and Texas have banned municipalities from passing ordinances that require breaks for outdoor workers, with similar laws pending in other states. On the positive side, new laws in California, Colorado, Minnesota, Oregon and Washington provide greater protections for construction workers and others toiling in hot weather.

Both federal and state OSHA numbers factor into the AFL-CIO’s report, “Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect.” It puts the 2022 fatality rate, the most recent data available, at 3.7 deaths per 100,000 workers, up from 3.6 in 2021 and the highest since 2008.

From a historical lens, OSHA has had a dramatic effect on worker safety. In the late 1960s, as Congress began debating the law that would become the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, an estimated 38 workers a day were dying on the job. In 2022, the average was 15 worker fatalities per day.

OSHA funding was up slightly in fiscal year 2022 (Oct. 1, 2021-Sept. 30, 2022), a trend that has continued in the 2023 and 2024 fiscal years. But the agency is only beginning to climb out of a deep hole.

For example, in 1975 — four years after the OSH Act, signed into law by President Richard Nixon, took effect on the nation’s second observance of Workers Memorial Day — OSHA had 2,435 inspectors and other staff responsible for the safety and health of 67.8 million workers at nearly 4 million workplaces.

This year, there are 1,962 federal OSHA staff responsible for 150 million workers at more than 11.5 million workplaces. With a fiscal 2024 budget of $632 million, according to AFL-CIO calculations, the agency has just $3.93 for every worker it is charged with protecting.

“Even that tiny sum is more than some opponents in Congress wanted OSHA to have,” Cooper said. “No one can argue with a straight face that OSHA doesn’t need more resources. Too many workers are still being killed, injured and sickened on the job with lifelong consequences for them and their families.

“It is gut-wrenching to think how many of those tragedies could have been avoided if OSHA had the money, inspectors and enforcement tools it needs,” he said. “We want to open the public’s eyes to that as mark another Workers Memorial Day and remember the brothers and sisters we’ve lost.”