Workplace Injuries

FACT: Every Day, It Is Estimated That 12-13 People Lose Their Life While They Are Working

Workplace Injuries

What is a Work-Related Injury?

An injury is considered to be work-related when a person experiences an event or an exposure in their work environment that causes the condition, according to the United States Department of Labor. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) defines the work environment as “the establishment and other locations where one or more employees are working or are present as a condition of their employment. The work environment includes not only physical locations, but also the equipment or materials used by the employee during the course of his or her work.” 

Trends in Worker Injuries and Deaths in the U.S.

Fortunately, today the workplace is much safer in the US than it was for previous generations of Americans. The OSHA reports that from 1972 to 2014, workplace injuries decreased from 10.9 incidents per 100 workers to 3.3 incidents per 100 workers. The number of worker deaths also decreased from 38 worker deaths a day to 13 a day. (Source: https://www.osha.gov/oshstats/commonstats.html) This improvement can be attributed to the efforts of many groups, including OSHA, employers, health and safety professionals, unions, and employees advocating for change. In addition, today’s workers owe a debt to the injured workers of yesterday who fought for safer working conditions and full compensation in Court. It is those cases that make the safety shortcuts which save employers money today, too expensive tomorrow. Once safety makes more financial sense, every corporate employer embraces worker safety as an important focus.

How Common are Work-Related Deaths in the U.S.?

(Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016)

Despite the improvements in workplace safety over the last several decades, worker deaths and injuries remain a problem and impact many lives. In 2014, there were 4,386 worksite deaths in the US. Every day, it is estimated that 12-13 people lose their life while they are working. Furthermore, the graph below shows that the worker fatality rate has seen a slight increase from 2013 to 2014.

How Common are Work-Related Injuries in the U.S.?

According to the US Department of Labor, worksite injuries and illnesses are common, with 3.675 million injuries and illnesses occurring in the US in 2014. These occurred at a rate of 3 out of 100 full-time workers in private industry and 5 out of 100 workers in the public sector. For the private sector, this resulted in roughly 3 million non-fatal worksite injuries or illnesses, and more than half of these involved days away from work, job transfers, or work restrictions. The majority (95%) of these cases involved injuries. The majority (3 out of 4) of the injuries occurred in service-providing industries, which employed 82% of the private industry workforce. There were also an additional 722,000 public sector worksite injuries and illnesses.

How Common are Work-Related Deaths and Injuries in New York State?

(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses in cooperation with participating state agencies, February 05, 2016)

A total of 241 New Yorkers lost their lives while on the job in 2015, and 50 (roughly 1 out of 5) of these deaths were in the construction industry.

In 2014, there were 213,300 worker injuries and illnesses and more than half of these involved days away from work, job transfer, or some type of restriction. The majority (7 out of 10) occurred among workers in private industry.

Fatal Worker Injuries by Industry Sector

(Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016.)

The graph below shows that worksite deaths are more common among certain industry groups. For example, the number of fatal work injuries was the highest among workers in the areas of 1) construction, 2) transportation and warehousing, and 3) agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting. These counts are high because of both the number of people employed in these areas, as well as the rate of injury that occurs among these workers.

Non-Fatal Worker Injuries by Selected Occupation

(Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016.)

Non-fatal worksite injuries are more common among certain occupations as shown in the graph below. Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers and laborers and freight, stock, and material movers were occupations that had the highest number of cases of injuries in 2014. However, the data to the right of the graph shows that the rate of non-fatal injuries is highest among police and sheriff’s patrol officers and nursing assistants than it is for the heavy truck and tractor-trailer drivers. Construction laborers also have a higher rate of injury.

5 Most Common Events Leading to Fatal Worksite Injuries

  1. Transportation incidents (especially roadway incidents)
  2. Falls, slips, and trips
  3. Violence and injuries due to other people or animals
  4. Contact with objects and equipment
  5. Exposure to harmful substances or environments

2 Most Common Events Leading to Worksite Injuries or Illness

(Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016.)

The most common events or exposures that led to a worksite injury or illness in 2014 were:

  1. Overexertion and bodily reaction
  2. Falls, slips, and trips

These two categories accounted for 6 out of 10 worksite injuries or illness. Transportation incidents, while the leading event for worksite fatalities, led to only 1 in 20 of the worksite injuries and illness.

Worksite Violations

Since the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers have been required by law to provide their workers with conditions that are safe and free of known dangers. Workers not only have a right to a safe workplace, but they have a right to raise a safety concern with their employer without retaliation. These rights are outlined in the OSHA Workers’ Rights Publication.

Employers are also required by law to follow all OSHA safety and health standards and find and correct any safety or health issues. OSHA is charged with enforcing workplace safety and health standards. Employers must record and report all worksite fatalities and serious injuries (see the OSHA Fact Sheet on Recordkeeping). The United States Department of Labor continues to gather data on workplace injuries and deaths in order to evaluate the progress made in this area.

Construction Site Injuries

Construction sites are the location of many worksite deaths and injuries. In fact, 1 out of 5 worksite deaths were on a construction site.

4 Most Common Causes of Deaths on Construction Sites

  1. Falls
  2. Electrocution
  3. Being struck by an object and
  4. Caught in-between.

10 Most Frequent Worksite Violations

According to recent data from the US Department of Labor, the 10 most frequent violations of Occupational Safety and Health are:

  1. Fall protection, construction
  2. Hazard communication standard, general industry
  3. Scaffolding, general requirements, construction
  4. Respiratory protection, general industry
  5. Control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout), general industry
  6. Powered industrial trucks, general industry
  7. Ladders, construction
  8. Electrical, wiring methods, components and equipment, general industry
  9. Machinery and Machine Guarding, general requirements
  10. Electrical systems design, general requirements, general industry

4 Things You Should Do After a Worksite Injury

  1. It is important that you report your injury or accident immediately to your supervisor manager. Your employer is required to have a process for workers to report a workplace injury or illness. If you have a union representative, you should also contact them. Do not go home until you report your injury.
  2. You should seek medical care immediately if you have been seriously hurt.
  3. Ask for and fill out your company’s official injury report form. Get a copy for your own records.
  4. Keep a written record or diary of the injury and your communications with your employer.

About Workers’ Compensation

Most worker in New York State are covered by their employer’s Workers’ Compensation plan. However, this may not be enough to cover all medical bills and expenses associated with your injury.

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Kuehner Law Firm Approach

Help Our Client, Help The Community
KLF will handle your worksite injury case with a global approach that looks not just to compensate you for your harms and losses but also to protect the next worker on another site. We closely review what happened to you. We also dig more deeply into the question of why it happened to you. In today’s world accidents don’t just happen anymore. We look to see how this could and should have been prevented by utilizing cutting edge techniques of investigation. We bring in safety experts and engineers that can explain why particular job practices are utilized and what the employer should have been doing to make things safer. Our office regularly presents our cases to panels of volunteers and asks them “what could have been done to protect this worker.” Those common sense answers often become the cornerstones of our arguments to the jury.
Since employers are required by law to provide a safe work environment, you may be able to bring a lawsuit if you can show that certain workplace safety rules were broken. KLF will conduct a thorough investigation to find everybody that broke rules leading to your injury. Once we identify the rule breakers, we make them pay for the harm they caused to you and your family.
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