As we have discussed in previous posts, employers are expected to provide safe working environments for their employees. Nevertheless, at times employers fail in that regard, often resulting in serious injuries, and in the worst cases, fatalities. According to statistics recently released by the U.S. Department of Labor, the number of American workers who died as a result of work-related injuries decreased in 2011 from the year prior.
In 2011, a total of 4,609 American workers died as a result of injuries sustained on the job. That figure represented a significant decline from the year before, as there were 81 more fatalities on the job in 2010.
While some may conclude the decrease is due, in part, to the economy, the rate of fatal work injuries tells a different tale. In 2011, for every 100,000 full-time employees, there were a total of 3.5 injuries that resulted in death. The rate of fatal injuries fell by a tenth of a percentage point in 2011 from 2010. Therefore, the statistics show not only that fewer workers died on the job, but the rate of worker deaths decreased as well.
The encouraging news continued in certain dangerous fields, as well. For instance, the private construction industry saw a 7 percent decline in the number of fatal injuries last year. There were a total of 721 fatal construction injuries in 2011. The number of fatal injuries in the construction industry has fallen 42 percent since 2006, with the industry seeing a decline in fatalities for six years in a row.
The majority of fatal injuries on the job were caused by transportation incidents, such as motor vehicle accidents. Surprisingly, the next most common cause of death on the job was violence by other people or animals. Of those violent deaths, almost one-third were caused by workers committing suicide. Other common causes of fatalities on the job were falls/slips/trips, contact with objects or equipment, exposure to harmful substances and fires or explosions.
Source: The Wall Street Journal, "Fewer Americans Died From Work-Related Injuries in 2011," Josh Mitchell, September 20, 2012.
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