Work-related fatalities rise seven percent in 2016

Workplace fatalities have dramatically increased for the third consecutive year, according to a census conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Residents of Minnesota, especially those in the transportation, healthcare and food packing industries, should be aware of the trends and what's being done about them.

The year 2016 saw a total of 5,190 workplace fatalities: the largest number since 2008, which saw 5,214 deaths. This comes to about 14 workers dying every day, a seven-percent increase from 2015 to 2016. One in four fatalities were caused by transportation incidents while workplace violence came in as the second most common cause of fatalities. The current opioid crisis has also left its mark on the workplace, with drug overdoses rising 32 percent in 2016.

The Department of Labor is currently working with various stakeholders to eliminate opioid deaths in the work environment while OSHA plans to strengthen its training and education methods, assist companies with compliance and provide greater outreach. This is crucial because injury and fatality rates increase in rapidly growing industries, such as the healthcare and food industries, because they receive less attention from OSHA and other federal agencies. Many state and local government employees aren't even covered by OSHA guidelines.

Lack of funding is responsible for OSHA's lack of resources and oversight. Currently, the agency has less than 800 inspectors across the nation.

When a workplace injury results in death, the nearest family members of the decedent will want to consult with an attorney about what compensation they're entitled to. To file for workers' compensation benefits, there is no need to blame employers for negligence or recklessness. However, this will bar the family from filing an injury claim. Workers' compensation can also include death benefits, which may be able to cover expenses like the funeral and compensate for loss of support.

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