U.S. Workplace Fatalities On the Rise
Over the last decade, the average rate of workplace fatalities has been 3.5 deaths for every 100,000 workers and cuts in government oversight may very well contribute to more and more. To date, transportation incidents are responsible for more than one-third of all work fatalities and the highest number of deaths at work, with transportation accidents accounting for more than 40 percent of all work-related fatalities. The second most common cause of workplace fatalities is contact with equipment and objects, which is also on the rise: Last year, the number of workers caught in running equipment increased by close to 40 percent.
Below, we discuss some of the most concerning trends that are on the rise when it comes to workplace fatalities here in the U.S.:
U.S. Workers Falling to Their Deaths
Of these fatalities, falls now represent a leading cause of death. Last year, there were more than 5,200 fatal work injuries in the United States and, in 2017, there were close to 900 fatal falls; the highest number reported in the history of the census of fatal occupational injuries. Most fatal workplace falls occur in construction, and disproportionately impact Hispanic workers, however, tower climbing for wireless and other communication industries is quickly emerging as one of the most dangerous job occupations, and even surpassing construction in terms of high fatality rates. These workers now face the highest risk for fatal falls in the workplace.
Steel workers too are dying in droves every year from dangerous falls, all of which are preventable. Most of these incidents occur in circumstances where safety procedures are being ignored and supervision was lacking. Many of them are also under-reported as well, especially if another event was included as part of the fall, such as a cardiac event.
Climate Change Makes Outdoor Work More Hazardous
Climate change is also now making outdoor work even more dangerous due to temperature extremes. There are currently no federal safety protections for workers in extreme temperatures, and states like Texas do not have heat stress protection standards. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, almost 70,000 workers were injured and 800 died due to heat exposure on the job between 1992 and 2016, although labor advocates argue that the numbers are likely much higher due to underreporting and worker death misclassification.
While some companies take safety seriously, fatal incidents occur all too often because a number of contractors and companies cut corners or outright fail to take responsibility for ensuring that equipment is safe and updated and training is provided to workers. In reality, most-all of these deaths are preventable and employers have a duty to eliminate risk where possible by ensuring that policies, procedures, technology, and training are all in alignment with worker safety.
If You’ve Been Hurt, Contact A Workplace Injury Attorney
If you or a loved one has suffered from a workplace injury, contact Houston workplace injury attorney Sue E. West to find out how you can receive full compensation for your injury.