Approximately 150 workers die from preventable deaths every day, according to AFL-CIO, the federation of unions. Over 11 million workers become injured while on the job every year.
Nearly 5,000 workers died in 2012 while at work, the latest numbers available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) have been cracking down on industries and companies that do not put a priority on worker safety. The fact is, however, that OSHA is understaffed and it would take OSHA nine years to inspect every workplace in America.
Many injuries caused while on the job also go unreported. Employers have incentive to discourage worker reporting of injuries. AFL-CIO estimates that the true injury rate for workers on the job is two to three times greater than what is currently reported.
Certain workers more at risk
It likely does not come as a surprise that certain industries carry greater risk of injury than others. Construction, oil and gas extraction, and transportation all average more worker deaths than other industries. In Pennsylvania, for example, 60 percent of all workplace fatalities occurred from transportation accidents or contact with objects and equipment.
Independent contractors and temp workers are also more likely to suffer from injury than regular employees. Because of the dramatic increase in temp worker injury and death, OSHA has focused on temp safety in the last year. On its website, it has a section on who is responsible for worker safety and who must track injuries when an accident does occur. Under federal rules, both temp agencies and the workplace employer are responsible for worker safety and must ensure temp workers have adequate training and comply with safety regulations.
The AFL-CIO’s “Death on the Job: The Toll of Neglect” report called for several actions to improve worker safety, such as:
- Increased funding for OSHA.
- Addressing the safety risk of immigrant and temp workers
- Add punishments for non-compliant companies and industries
Workers’ compensation death benefits
Nothing is worse than losing a loved one in a workplace accident. In addition to the tragic consequences, often the household must find a way to manage financially in the absence of the providing family member. Workers’ compensation provides death benefits to the family of workers killed while on the job. While workers’ compensation benefits can greatly help a family under these tragic circumstances, it can be a complicated and contentious process to actually obtain this help.
Families of loved ones injured or killed while on the job should speak to an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to discuss their legal options and get the help they need.