BLS: Fatal Workplace Injuries Up in 2015

The number of fatal workplace injuries in the U.S. increased in 2015, according to the final figures released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.sad face

There were a total of 4,836 job-related deaths in 2015, as compared to the 4,821 recorded in 2014. This was the highest number that has been counted since 2008, when there were 5,214. Still, the rate of injury was lower last year – 3.38 per 100,000 full-time workers, compared to 3.43 in 2014.

An especially vulnerable group included workers of Hispanic and Latino descent. There were 903 of these workers who lost their lives on the job in 2015, which is the most there has been since 2007, when there were 937. For them, the rate of injury also rose 12 percent, from 804 per 100,000 full-time workers up to 903. Workers over the age of 65 also historically have a high rate of injury and death, with 650 of those workers dying in 2015. Still, this represented a slight dip from the 2014 figure of 684.

While private industry construction workers had the greatest number of industry-wide deaths (937 this year – the highest it’s been since 2008, when there were 975), the single most dangerous job was driver of a tractor-trailer and heavy truck. A total of 745 truck drivers died in work-related incidents in 2015. Perhaps that may also have something to do with the fact that overall fatal workplace accidents that occurred on roadways were up nine percent. In fact, roadway fatalities accounted for one-quarter of all occupational injuries in 2015.

While most of the workers who died on the job were direct employees, 17 percent were contracted by and performing work for another business or government entity. That directly affects whether their families are eligible to collect workers’ compensation death benefits. Only employees are eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits. However, independent contractors do have the option of filing a personal injury lawsuit against the company for which they were providing services. There is a trade-off to this. In the latter scenario, a plaintiff who wins would be entitled to receive compensation employees don’t, such as damages for pain and suffering, mental anguish, wrongful death, and loss of consortium. However, unlike claimants in workers’ compensation claims, they would have to prove the defendant was negligent. People making workers’ compensation claims need only show the injury or fatality occurred in the course and scope of employment.

As far as the kinds of incidents that were most likely to result in a workplace death, the BLS reported those were:

  • Transportation incidents – 2,054
  • Falls, slips, trips – 800
  • Contact with objects and equipment – 722
  • Violence or other injuries by persons or animals – 703
  • Exposure to harmful substances or environments – 424
  • Fires or explosions – 121

With regard to falls, which are the most common hazard on construction sites, falls to a lower level accounted for more than 80 percent of all deadly falls. Of those incidents in which the height was known, nearly half involved falls from 15 feet or lower, which underscores the need for extreme caution against fall hazards, even when the height doesn’t seem that severe.

Overall, construction and extraction injuries increased by two percent to the highest rates since 2008. Meanwhile, deadly work accidents in fishing, forestry, and farming rose by 10 percent. Deaths among agricultural workers rose 22 percent, and farmworkers and laborers involved in crop production, nurseries, and greenhouses saw a 33 percent increase in worker fatalities.

Contact the Carolina workers’ compensation lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.

Additional Resources:

NATIONAL CENSUS OF FATAL OCCUPATIONAL INJURIES IN 2015, Dec. 16, 2016, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor

More Blog Entries:

Lewis v. Transit Management of Charlotte – Added Medical Compensation Claim of Injured Charlotte Worker Denied, Dec. 21, 2016, Asheville Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog

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