New Report on Nation’s Fatal Work Accident Rates

Fatal accidents, toxic exposure, and occupational disease continue to threaten the nation’s workers. A new report has assessed a total of 4,383 fatal work accidents that occurred in 2012. The 2012 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries is critical in understanding the present situation of worker health and safety as well as giving future direction to legislators, public health agencies, and employers. Workers in North and South Carolina should also be aware of the particular risks and hazards faced by our communities.

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Work fatalities may be caused by failed equipment, improper training, workplace hazards, heavy machinery, and other dangerous conditions. While the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) is charged with creating regulations to protect worker safety, a number of hazards continue to plague America’s workforce. Our Asheville workers’ compensation attorneys are dedicated to raising awareness to encourage workplace safety. We are also dedicated to helping victims and their families collect full compensation in the event of an accident.

Despite the significant risk of accidents in the U.S., 2012 number is the second lowest total since the report was first conducted in 1992. This means that the rate of fatality for U.S. workers was 3.2 per 100,000 down from the rate of 3.5 per 100,000 in 2011. Even though the overall number of injuries is on the decline, there are other industries that have seen a rise in fatalities, including the private construction industry. Fatal work injuries rose from 738 in 2011 to 775 in 2012.

When studying construction site accidents, the report considers whether the workers were contractors or full-time employees. As we have reported in previous blogs, contractors are often the victims of workplace accidents because they do not have the same protections as employees. In 2012, 708 victims were identified as contractors, many of them in construction work. Contractors are often immigrants, another class of worker that is often unprotected. While fatalities declined among Latino and Hispanic workers, fatality rates were on the rise for black or African-American workers. There was a total of 777 fatal work injuries involving foreign-born workers, 38 percent of these workers were from Mexico.

Another class of worker particularly at risk is young workers. We have also discussed the risk of injury of young farm workers in previous posts. According to the report, fatal work injuries for those under the age of 16 nearly doubled. This is the highest rate of death for young workers since 2005. Fourteen of the nineteen fatalities involved young workers in the agricultural industry. On the other hand, the fatality rates for older workers (those over the age of 55) decreased for the second year in a row.

In addition to construction, there are a number of other industries that create a hazard for work-related accidents and fatalities. Workers in private mining saw an increase in deaths. There was also a 23 percent rise in fatal injuries to workers in the oil and gas extraction industries.

Tracking fatalities in North and South Carolina can be difficult, but staying aware of trends can help keep workers safe. It is the responsibility of employers, workers, legislators, and our communities to continue to be mindful of worker health and to implement laws and procedures to prevent accidents and fatalities.

If you have been denied workers’ compensation or need an advocate to help you file a claim, contact the Lee Law Offices today by calling 800-887-1965.

More Blog Entries

Independent Contractor Workers’ Compensation and Third-Party Claims
, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, May 20, 2013

New Legislation Aims to Bolster OSHA Role in Worker Safety, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, May 25, 2013

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