Jan 2022

Fatal Workplace Accidents At Lowest Level In 7 Years, Study Reports

Workplace accidents can result in on-the-job fatalities.

Workers’ compensation lawyer explains recent trend, why fatalities are down

Following one of the deadliest years for workplace accidents, the number of workplace fatalities nationwide in 2020 declined to its lowest level since 2013, according to statistics compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

A total of 4,764 people died due to on-the-job injuries nationwide in 2020, according to an article published on the National Safety Council’s Safety + Health website. That’s a decrease of 10.7 percent compared to 2019, when a record 5,333 died due to work-related accidents.

However, not all the numbers for 2020 were encouraging. That year, a total of 44 healthcare support workers died due to work-related injuries or illnesses, an increase of 15.8 percent compared to 2019, according to the BLS.

Why are workplace fatalities lower?

Many different types of workers and industries experienced significant decreases in workplace fatalities in 2020. Workplace fatalities among black workers decreased by 14.7 percent in 2020 to 541 deaths. Transportation-related fatalities fell by 16.2 percent to 1,778 deaths the same year. Worker suicides also decreased in 2020 by 15.6 percent to 259 deaths, according to the BLS.

Such figures seem encouraging, but workplace safety officials warned that the decrease in workplace fatalities in 2020 was likely due to fewer people working due to the ongoing pandemic. “Fewer people were in direct contact with preventable hazards,” Liz Shuler, president of the AFL-CIO, said in an interview with CNBC. In other words, this isn’t necessarily indicative of safer workplaces, just workplaces that temporarily had fewer people working in them.

Why do fatal workplace accidents happen?

Work-related fatalities happen for many different reasons. The four most common reasons are often referred to as the “fatal four,” especially when referring to construction fatalities. The fatal four are:

  • Falling from a height (33.5 percent of construction fatalities, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA))
  • Struck by object (11.1 percent of construction fatalities)
  • Electrocution (8.5 percent of construction fatalities)
  • Caught between objects (5.5 percent of construction fatalities)

In addition, work-related traffic fatalities account for 21.7 percent of all workplace fatalities, including 1,038 deaths in 2020. Slip, trip and fall accidents also account for many workplace fatalities, including 805 deaths in 2020, according to BLS.

What legal options are available to families?

If a loved one died on the job, family members may be eligible for financial compensation. Workers’ compensation pays death benefits for on-the-job fatalities. In addition, if your loved one’s death was the result of third-party negligence, you may be able to file a wrongful death claim.

The experienced workers’ compensation lawyers at the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl can help your family navigate this complex legal process. Our law firm has years of experience fighting for the rights of injured workers and their families in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. We’re familiar with the state and federal labor laws in both states. We know how the legal system works. That’s why we have such a strong track record of success in cases involving workplace fatalities.

Discover what we can do for you. Contact our law firm and schedule a free case evaluation with a workers’ compensation lawyer you can trust to fight for your family’s rights. We have three offices conveniently located in Rhode Island and Massachusetts and handle workers’ compensation claims and wrongful death cases in both states.

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