The United Health Foundation just published their current findings about the state of Americans’ health in America’s Health Rankings™: A Call to Action for People and Their Communities. According to this annual report, nearly every state in the union is healthier than Tennessee. Coming in 47th place in a race based on several factors, Tennessee as a whole has a greater combined prevalence of obesity, smoking, infectious disease, cardiovascular deaths, infant mortality, child poverty, immunization rates, workplace deaths, and auto deaths than all states besides Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina. While our state’s low health rank is due in part to unhealthy choices by people, such as smoking, many of the factors contributing to our poor health are outside of the control of individuals.
It is particularly shameful that the state of Tennessee, whose economic engine runs largely on the work of laborers, outdoes most other states in its volume of workplace deaths, many of which go unreported by the news. Just a couple weeks ago, 42-year-old Jonathon Horton died shortly after he was injured in an explosion on the job at the Rollex aluminum manufacturing plant in Jackson, Tennessee. The accident is currently under investigation, but Horton’s death is one of the many every year that contributes to Tennessee’s low health rank. His death is also one of the many occupational deaths that other states produce goods without.
Accidents like Jonathon Horton’s need to be investigated thoroughly and the responsible companies must take action to avoid such deaths in the future. But if we ever hope to have a healthy, and living, workforce and state, it is imperative that Tennessee and its industries prioritize safety in the workplace before stories like Horton’s are told. Our firm will continue to bring these cases to light.