Workplace Deaths Increase Slightly, Federal Authorities Say

The number of workplace deaths in America is on the rise, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
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Our Rock Hill workers’ compensation attorneys understand that there were 4,693 workers killed on the job in 2011, the latest year for which complete figures are available. That’s three more than lost their lives in 2010.

While it’s not an astronomical climb, it’s not moving in the direction we’d like; on-the-job accident risks certainly are improving. The rate of worker injury in 2011 was 3.5 per 100,000 full-time workers.

This report comes on the heels of the Texas fertilizer plant explosion that claimed the lives of 15 people, many of those emergency first responders.

Incidents like this and the blast on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig tend to garner a great deal of media attention. However, the reality is that the vast majority of worker injuries and deaths occur quietly and without media attention. However, a victim’s family is no less devastated.

The non-profit National Council for Occupational Safety & Health reported that while there are approximately 13 workers killed daily in the U.S., most cause little stir. They may involve temporary or contract workers, some of them immigrants. The media simply doesn’t pay attention to those every day slip-and-falls that have proven so deadly.

As we’ve seen in years’ past, certain kinds of occupations prove far more dangerous than others. For the first time ever, the BLS has included a separate category just for contract workers, who accounted for about 12 percent of all workplace fatalities in 2011 — or 542 total.

Those in the transportation and material moving occupations had by far the highest number of workplace fatalities, with 1,233.

That was followed by construction and extraction workers, who suffered 798 fatalities.

Management occupations were next with 467, followed by insulation, maintenance and repair workers with 354; protective service occupations with 282; farming, fishing and forestry with 261; and sales workers with 240.

The vast majority of these incidents – 1,103 – were due to roadway incidents that involved at least one motorized land vehicle.

That was followed by violence or other injuries by persons or animal with 791 and contact with equipment and objects with 710. Falls, slips and trips were another major problem, accounting for 681 worker deaths in 2011, while workplace homicides accounted for 468 deaths.

Another 419 people died from exposure to harmful substances or environments. A total of 156 worker deaths were marked as “other.”

Texas recorded the highest number of contractor deaths, followed by Florida and then California. Primarily, that’s because of the sheer size of these states. But it also has to do with the fact that these areas are in close proximity to a large supply of temporary migrant workers, who often work in physical demanding fields with little training or protections.

It’s not that worker protection laws don’t exist. The larger issue is the fact that they are so difficult to enforce – and so easy for employers to skirt.

AFL-CIO workers’ union report from last year indicated that the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration was so poorly staffed and underfunded that federal regulators would have the ability to inspect each work site about once every 131 years.

Sadly, some employers view worker deaths or injuries as just part of doing business. It’s unacceptable.

That’s why we are committed to fighting to protect your rights and ensure you are justly compensated.

If you have been injured at work, contact the Lee Law Offices at 800-887-1965.

Additional Resources:
Workplace deaths up slightly in 2011, April 25, 2013, By Jim Morris, The Center for Public Integrity

More Blog Entries:
Record-Keeping and Reporting of Work Injuries Required by OSHA, March 26, 2013, Rock Hill Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog

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