Workplace fatalities on the rise

Workers in Minnesota may want to know about the results of the 2016 report conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It reports a 7 percent increase in fatal occupational injuries from 2015 to 2016, with 5,190 people losing their lives in the workplace. This amounts to 14 workers being killed each day. For every 100,000 full-time workers, there were 3.6 deaths.

The report shows that transportation incidents were responsible for one out of every four workplace fatalities. Workplace violence, such as cases of employees assaulting other employees, was the second most common cause of fatalities. Another unfortunate trend is the rise in opioid-related deaths among workers, which have increased by at least 25 percent since 2012. Overdoses alone rose by 32 percent in 2016.

A major reason for the increase in fatalities could be the lack of attention from federal organizations like OSHA and MSHA. Where these organizations fail to address safety concerns and uphold regulations, fatality rates rise; this is especially true of fast-growing industries like the healthcare and food service industries. State and local government employees are also in danger because they are not protected under OSHA. Due to budgetary limitations, OSHA currently employs only 800 inspectors.

When employers neglect OSHA guidelines or fail to train their workers, they give rise to workplace injuries. Victims of such accidents have two options, so victims may consult with an attorney about which is best for their situation. The first is to file for workers' compensation benefits as these will cover any medical expenses and lost wages without requiring the victim to prove that anyone was at fault. If the accident was clearly a result of the employer's negligence, a lawyer may recommend filing an injury claim. He or she may be able to negotiate for a settlement on the victim's behalf.

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