Worker illness death outranks injury

A new report by the AFL-CIO shows that workplace illnesses outrank workplace injuries as a cause of death by nearly 10 to 1. Pennsylvania had the lowest rate of workers injured on the job for 2011, but the number of workers who died due to illnesses or diseases contracted on the job was much higher. Fire fighters, nurses and those who work with patients are at much higher risk than the general population for contracting a deadly illness in the workplace, according to the AFL-CIO’s study.

The statistics on workplace injury used by the AFL-CIO in its report come from both the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Both agencies compile annual reports on work-related injuries and the industries that are most affected. According to OSHA and the BLS, fishing and logging have the highest injury death rates in the country. Currently, 13 people per day die in work-related accidents. However, neither OSHA nor the BLS accounts for work-related illness deaths which the AFL-CIO estimates account for another 137 deaths per day.

These statistics point out another fact: the trend toward safer workplaces seems to be declining. For the past three years, the rate of worker death and injury has remained relatively stable. Since the 1970s, workplace fatalities have decreased dramatically, but the downward shift seems to be slowing or stopping. In some groups, such as Latinos, rates may actually be rising. Currently, Latinos have a 14 percent higher rate of workplace deaths than any other group of workers.

A workers’ compensation attorney may represent the family of a victim who has been killed by an illness or accident at work. The family may be entitled to compensation for the value of the victim’s life as well as lost wages, medical costs and other expenses.

Source: MSNBC, “US work-related deaths top 150 a day, finds AFL-CIO report“, Ned Resnikoff, May 08, 2013

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