Imagine kissing your spouse goodbye in the morning as he or she headed off to work and soon thereafter receiving a telephone call that there's been a terrible accident and your spouse was fatally injured. For the families of 4,679 workers, last year, this nightmare scenario became their reality.
The U.S. Labor Department recently released preliminary 2014 data related to work-related fatalities. As the figures are finalized, it's likely that even more work-related deaths will be reported. The DOL's statistical data is crucial in helping identify those industries and employers who may not be following safety guidelines and simply aren't doing enough to protect workers.
This year's preliminary total for worker fatalities already represents a 16 percent increase over last year's number. The data shows that workers employed within the U.S.'s oil and gas industry are increasingly at risk of suffering fatal work accidents as 2014 fatality rates increased 27 percent over 2013 numbers.
Another notable increase in workplace fatalities involved workers age 55 and older. Last year, work fatalities for this age demographic totaled 1,621, a nine percent increase over the previous year. As many U.S. workers delay retirement and continue working well into their 60s and 70s, employers must take steps to provide adequate training and also ensure that workers can perform the physical tasks a job may require.
While 2014's statistics were dismal overall, there was one ray of hope as the death rate among Hispanic and Latino workers fell 28 percent from 817 in 2013 to 789 last year. Historically, the fatality rate among Latino and Hispanic workers is disproportionately high as many of these individuals work in construction and other inherently dangerous industries. Additionally, newly immigrated and undocumented Latino and Hispanic workers are less likely to speak English and also to speak up about safety violations of deficiencies.
Family members who have lost a loved one due to a fatal workplace accident may choose to take legal action. In cases where an employer failed to provide a worker with adequate training or safety gear, an attorney can provide strong legal advocacy and assist in the recovery of compensation and damages.
Source: Huffington Post, "Nearly 5,000 U.S. Workers Died On The Job Last Year," Dave Jamieson, Sept. 18, 2015