There are dangers in any type of job, and Californians should be cognizant of the level of risk they face, especially in high risk occupations. Certain industries have more workplace injuries and death than others, but anyone can be confronted with the injuries and deaths that can come about after a work accident. It is important for workers and their families to have a basic understanding of the statistics for injuries and fatalities.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there was a minor increase in workplace fatalities. The statistics were recently released and are for 2018. Although there was a rise in fatalities, the injury numbers remained level with 3.5 workers suffering an injury on the job for every 100,000 full-time equivalent employees. There were 5,250 fatalities in 2018. For 2017, there were 5,147 deaths. The most common industry for workplace fatalities was transportation with 40 percent. The number of workers who died in a fall lowered by 11 percent. In 2017, that number had reached its highest point in 26 years.
There was a 3 percent increase in fatalities from workplace violence. A significant portion of that — 12 percent — came from suicides. Another problem was unintentional overdoses at work. From 2016 to 2017, this had reduced by a quarter. From 2017 to 2018, it rose by 12 percent. There were 786 deaths due to contact with equipment and objects — a 13 percent decline.
There were 831 deaths for truckers and people working in driving and sales. Independent worker deaths came to 621, or 12 percent of the overall total. That was a slight increase from the previous year when there were 613 such fatalities. The most fatalities for independent workers involved drivers of tractor-trailers and construction workers.
People who have been injured on the job or lost a loved one in a fatal work-related accident will have a series of issues to address as they move forward. Personal, emotional and financial factors must be considered. Workers’ compensation benefits can be helpful for those who were injured and need medical costs paid and wage coverage. After a wrongful death, there will be funeral costs and the uncertain future from losing a working family member.