Archive for January, 2024

BLS Reports Alarming Rise in Workplace Deaths

Construction engineer worker at heights on top of building with suspended cables and fall protection.

Hazardous work conditions, lack of safety measures, and poor employee training often lead to serious injuries and workers’ compensation claims. However, these factors also lead to an alarming number of preventable workplace deaths.

Recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) highlights a growing concern in workplace safety across various sectors. In particular, the report emphasizes the growing number of worker deaths, as well as the frequency and cause of fatalities on the job.

How many work-related fatalities were there in the U.S.?

In 2022, the United States experienced an alarming increase in fatal work injuries, with 5,486 reported cases. This marked a 5.7% rise from the 5,190 workplace deaths in 2021. Additionally, it marked the sixth time over seven years that workplace fatalities surpassed 5,000 deaths, according to the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries.

One concerning statistic is the frequency of work-related deaths. For example, in 2022, a workplace death occurred every 96 minutes, compared to every 101 minutes in 2021.

Common causes of workplace deaths and occupational risks

Transportation and material moving occupations were hit hardest, with 1,620 fatalities. This accounted for 37.7% of workplace fatalities, making them the leading cause. Most of these deaths were among driver/sales workers and truck drivers. That’s followed by construction and extraction workers with 1,056 deaths, mostly due to falls.

Violence and injuries inflicted by others or animals saw an 11.6% increase to 849 cases, with homicides accounting for 61.7% of these incidents. Unintentional overdoses reached a record high of 525 fatalities, continuing an upward trend since 2012.

Disparities among workplace demographics

Black or African American and Hispanic or Latino workers experienced higher fatality rates than the national average. Transportation incidents were the leading cause. Additionally, foreign-born Hispanic or Latino workers in the construction industry represented a significant portion of fatalities in this demographic.

Workers aged 55 to 64 faced the highest fatality numbers due to transportation incidents and falls. Also, women accounted for a disproportionate number of workplace homicides despite accounting for a smaller percentage of overall workplace fatalities.

Seeking legal help after a fatal work accident

Whether you’re in Massachusetts or Rhode Island, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation death benefits if your loved one died while on the job. Both states offer compensation for burial expenses and dependent benefits.

For dependent benefits, you may receive a portion of the worker’s average weekly wages. The duration and amount of these benefits vary based on your relationship with the deceased worker and your age. Typically, a spouse or minor children are eligible for workers’ compensation death benefits. However, if you’re a grandchild, sibling, parent, or other relative who is financially dependent on the deceased worker, you may be able to pursue death benefits.

To find out what you’re eligible for and how to file a claim, speak to the workers’ compensation lawyers at The Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl. We can help you explore your options and answer any questions you have during a free consultation. To get started, contact us online or call our law offices in Fall River, Foxborough, or Providence.

Safety Helmets: How To Make The Right Selection

Construction helmet on a wooden table

Work-related head injuries are often the result of construction accidents. They’re typically caused by being struck by objects, falling, or accidents involving machinery. These injuries range from mild concussions to severe traumatic brain injuries. They often lead to significant medical expenses, lost work time, and long-term disability. The risk of head injuries on the job highlights the need for safety helmets that offer adequate protection.

With so many different styles, price ranges, and claims of enhanced protection, choosing the right helmet for work is no simple feat. This task is further complicated by a lack of comprehensive test data offering clear, evidence-based recommendations. However, it’s important to focus on brain protection, laceration protection, and helmet retention when making your decision.

Brain protection challenges and solutions

Historically, helmet design has somewhat neglected brain protection, particularly against rotational motion, a key factor in concussions on job sites. Helmets need to address two types of head injuries: skull fractures and brain injuries.

While a rigid outer shell and inner liner can mitigate skull fractures caused by direct impacts, they are less effective against many brain injuries. These typically result from rotational forces during impact, causing brain shearing and potentially irreversible damage.

Notably, over 60% of work-related brain injuries arise from slips and falls and same-level falls. About 90% of them don’t involve skull fractures. This highlights the distinct mechanisms affecting the brain compared to the skull. Recognizing this, sports helmets have incorporated the multi-directional impact protection system (MIPS) to dampen rotational forces. Similar technologies are now emerging in safety helmets.

Do safety helmets offer laceration protection?

Traditional helmets are primarily designed for crown impacts. However, they often fail to provide adequate laceration protection. A study from 1987 highlighted this deficiency, noting the limited effectiveness against side impacts. The ANSI standard Z89.1 addressed this by introducing the Type II designation, indicating helmets tested for lateral impacts.

Despite this, many leading brands still offer predominantly Type I protection. This highlights the need to choose ANSI Type II certified helmets for better lateral impact protection.

Do safety helmets offer retention during an impact?

A helmet’s protective capability should allow it to remain securely in place during an impact. While chin straps are crucial for this, the U.S. standard ANSI Z89.1 doesn’t mandate them but requires retention testing if included.

The European standard EN 12492 for mountaineering helmets necessitates chin straps but has less stringent lateral impact testing compared to ANSI Z89.1. Therefore, helmets with chin straps that meet or exceed ANSI Z89.1 Type II performance are advisable for optimal protection.

Choosing a safety helmet by industry

Various types of safety helmets are used in different industries to prevent workplace injuries. Here are some of the common types:

  • Standard hard hats: These are typically used in construction, mining, and manufacturing. They protect against impact from falling objects and bumps against fixed objects.
    Full-brim hard hats: These are similar to standard hard hats but with a wider brim that offers additional protection against sun, rain, and falling debris.
    Bump caps: These are lighter and more comfortable than hard hats. They’re designed for environments where workers risk hitting their heads against stationary objects rather than from falling objects.
    Safety helmets with face shields: These are used in environments where face and eye protection is necessary, such as in industrial manufacturing or certain types of construction.
    Welding helmets: These provide protection against the intense light, ultraviolet, and infrared radiation generated during welding. They also protect against hot metal and slag that can fly off during the welding process.
    Electrically insulated helmets: These helmets are made of non-conductive materials. They’re designed for electricians and other workers exposed to the risk of electrical hazards.
    Thermal helmets: These are used in environments with extreme heat or cold. They provide thermal insulation to protect the head from extreme temperatures.

Know your rights in the event of a head injury on the job

Safety helmets may reduce the likelihood of a head injury, but they’re not foolproof. If you’re a worker who has sustained a head injury on the job, you may be out of work for an extended period. You may be eligible for compensation through a workers’ compensation claim. However, simply filing a claim doesn’t mean you’ll successfully obtain the benefits you deserve.

Any errors in the application and filing process can lead to your benefits getting delayed, reduced, or denied. That’s why you need the help of the experienced Massachusetts and Rhode Island workers’ compensation attorneys at The Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl. Our legal team can ensure your application is properly filled out and the filing process goes smoothly. Plus, we can help you get the right medical care and advocate for fair compensation on your behalf.

Contact us online or call us to find out how we can help you. We offer free consultations, and there are no obligations. Let us learn about your workplace accident, provide guidance, and answer any questions you have about your potential legal options. We have law offices in Fall River, Foxborough, and Providence.