Workplace deaths in the U.S. have inched upward for the first time since 2010, according to the finalized data by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on 2014 death statistics.
The preliminary count of workplace deaths that year was 4,679, but the final figure was higher: 4,821. That makes it the highest annual total since 2010. It also brings the fatal work injury rate in the U.S. to 3.4 work deaths per 100,000 full-time (or equivalent) workers. That’s up form the 3.3 fatal work injuries per 100,000 that was reported in 2013.
What these figures mean is that we have 13 work-related deaths every single day in the U.S. That is more than a dozen families who saw their loved one off at the start of their shift and never got to see them come home.
Of those workers who lost their lives, the research shows:
- 367 were women, 4,454 were men;
- Most were between the ages of 45 and 64;
- A significant portion – 1,984 – died in transportation-related incidents.
Other common causes of worker deaths:
- Falls, slips and trips: 818
- Injuries caused by animals/ people: 765 (a substantial number of these – 409 – were intentional homicides)
- Exposure to harmful environments or substances: 390
- Contact with equipment or objects: 715
- Other: 149
Among the industries that saw the highest number of fatalities:
- Construction – 899 deaths
- Warehousing and transportation – 766 deaths
- Agriculture – 584 deaths
- Government – 435 deaths
- Business and professional services – 425 deaths
- Manufacturing – 349 deaths
It’s important to point out that while our Greenville workers’ compensation attorneys sometimes use the phrase “work accident,” these instances are all preventable. The phrase, “accidents happen” is only true insofar as it means these instances occur. However, they are not inevitable. They happen because someone wasn’t properly trained or supervised. They happen because employers fail to abide basic safety regulations. They happen because companies don’t properly staff for jobs or offer the right equipment.
In workers’ compensation claims, it is not necessary to prove the employer was at-fault. However, workers do need to prove the incident arose out of and occurred in the course and scope of employment.
Cases where workers die as a result of their injuries are tragic. Bereft families are grappling not only with the loss of their loved one, but with the financial reality of what the loss of that worker will mean in terms of meeting their basic needs.
South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits may be paid for a maximum of 500 weeks. Payment limits are set by statute, and families may also receive up to $2,500 for burial expenses. These benefits are also exempt from creditor claims and estate taxes. These death benefit claims have to be filed within two years of the date of the worker’s death, or else they may be barred forever. Most families opt to act much sooner when they can. Death benefits are given to all persons who were wholly dependent on decedent.
In situations where no persons are wholly dependent, benefits may be distributed to partially-dependent individuals, based on the extent of their dependency. When there are no dependents, non-dependent children may receive death benefits. If there are no non-dependent children, a worker’s mother or father may receive the benefits instead.
If you have been injured at work, contact the Lee Law Offices at 800-887-1965.
Revisions to the 2014 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, April 21, 2016, BLS
More Blog Entries:
Blue v. Montaire Farms et al. – Exclusive Remedy of North Carolina Workers’ Comp, May 17, 2016, South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog