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Workplace fatalities continue to rise

14 workers a day lose their lives on the job, the most in eight years

The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released data on work-related fatalities in the United States. The news was not good. The report notes that 5,190 workplace deaths occurred in 2016, 354 more than in 2015. This was the third year in a row workplace fatalities have increased. The last year on record with more than 5,000 deaths was in 2008. 

Who was covered in this report?

The BLS reviewed more than 23,000 documents related to incidents in all fifty states and the District of Columbia. Employees earning wages or salaries represented nearly 80 percent of all workplace fatalities, although the survey included self-employed workers, as well.

Transportation jobs are the most dangerous

Transportation industry accidents were the main cause of worker fatalities, accounting for 40 percent of all deaths. Deaths due to injury or violence by other humans or animals represented the second-highest number with 866 fatalities, an increase of 23 percent. Slips and falls claimed 849 lives. The number of workers exposed to harmful chemicals or environmental factors increased by 22 percent over 2015 statistics.

Are there other notable trends?

Workers between 45 and 64 years of age comprised 2,305 fatalities, or 44 percent of the total. Those over 55 had the highest fatality rate of all age groups. Drug and alcohol overdoses grew by 32 percent in 2016, continuing the unfortunate trend of such deaths escalating by more than 25 percent each year since 2012. 

Fatalities affected many occupations, not just high-risk ones such as logging. For example, the number of work-related deaths in food preparation and foodservice grew by 64 percent, while workers in hospitality and leisure industries saw a 32 percent increase. 

Workers’ compensation survivor benefits

Section 3700 of California's Labor Code requires all employers to maintain workers' compensation protections for their employees. Whether a company has a single employee or thousands of workers, the employer must offer this important type of insurance. 

Survivor's benefits are covered under workers' compensation in California. However, it is imperative that survivors understand and preserve their rights during this very difficult time.

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Workplace fatalities continue to rise | Rose, Klein & Marias, LLP