Friday, December 2, 2016

6 Common Workplace Deaths and How to Prevent Them

Nearly 5,000 workers die each year as a result of preventable injuries while on the job. These work-related incidents—whether they occur at work or while performing job duties off-site—devastate families in unimaginable ways. But these workplace deaths are not inevitable; there are things that can be done to prevent them. However, if a family does experience an unfortunate loss, there is a way for the, to recover financially once they’ve grieved their loved one.

All workplaces have a set of standards and rules that they expect their employees to follow in order to both keep their workers safe and to limit their liability should an unfortunate accident occur. If employees adhere to these guidebooks of safety regulations they have much more reduced chance of being injured. These guidebooks are often put together by professionals who specifically consult on workplace safety. They allow for the employee to both properly complete their work tasks and to ensure they go home safe. In addition to safety manuals, employers often spend thousands of dollars to ensure that employees are trained in the proper ways to execute tasks. When finances are tight, these precautions are, unfortunately, some of the first to go in small businesses. In these instances, a worker may not get the proper training they need in order to stay safe. Despite safety regulations and guidebooks, whether the place of employment has strict rules or none-at-all, workplace accidents still happen. Sometimes, the employee pays the ultimate cost and loses their life.

In 2014, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4,821 men and women died in U.S. workplaces as a result of serious traumatic events. This includes a range of incidents including falls, explosions, vehicle collisions, fatal contact with equipment or machinery, and workplace homicides. Most of the events on the list are preventable. This category only takes into account accidents. When illness from long-term exposure to on the-job hazards and unsafe practices is considered the death toll becomes much larger. It is estimated that more than 53,000 deaths occur each year from respiratory, cardiovascular, and kidney diseases, in addition to cancers and other conditions which can be linked directly to workplace exposure.

Since there are roughly 5,000 workplace deaths from traumatic events and 50,000 deaths from long-term exposure, it is clear that workplace illness is a serious problem, accounting for ten times the loss. The estimated yearly cost to the nation of these workplace deaths is $51 billion, including medical care, lost wages, loss of productivity, and other costs.
If non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses are taken into account, it costs the nation an additional $200 billion dollars. It is clearly a big problem.

Of course, no dollar amount can be placed on the immense cost in human suffering to workers and their family and friends when their loved ones are hurt, maimed, and killed as a result of these tragic and preventable workplace injuries and illnesses.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics identifies six major categories of events which result in workplace deaths:

-Transportation incidents (for example, car accidents)
-Workplace Violence (for example, a cashier being robbed)
-Contact with objects and equipment (for example, forklift accidents)
-Slip-and-falls (for example, slipping in a puddle of water)
-Exposure to harmful substances (for example, exposure to asbestos)
-Fires and explosions (for example, a chemical factory explosion)

There are clear and deliberate steps that can be taken to prevent each one of these workplace causes of workplace injury and death. Gathering from different organizations in charge of these areas, we have put together a list of how to prevent these workplace deaths, according to the experts.

Transportation incidents

According to the CDC, millions of American workers drive or ride in a vehicle as part of their jobs. Because of this, it is easy to see why they also classify motor vehicle crashes as the leading cause of work-related deaths in the U.S. From truck drivers to taxi operators, from curriers to those just riding to the job site, there are thousands of jobs relating to riding in a vehicle. Each one, no matter how minor or infrequently they require driving or riding, they still pose a serious threat.

In 2013, just over a thousand U.S. workers died in work-related crashes involving motor vehicles. This amounts to 24% of all work-related deaths; this is a significant portion. Another 521 deaths were non-roadway crashes involving motor vehicles and pedestrians struck by motor vehicles. One does not have to be driving the vehicle to be at-risk of being killed by it.
Of these motor vehicle deaths related to the workplace, the transportation and warehousing industry had the highest share of deaths, followed by construction and agriculture, then the wholesale and retail trades.
Although the majority of vehicles involved in fatal crashes were semi, tractor-trailer, and tanker trucks, together passenger vehicles, pick-up trucks, and SUVs accounted for the same proportion of deaths.

The CDC suggests the following for preventing these accidents:

-Incorporate safety devices on highway and construction equipment.
-Make sure that your company leaders are modeling good road safety and practices.
-Implement policies to guide motor vehicle safety, like banning texting and driving.
-Select drivers based on skill and qualifications; train them well.
-Ensure that all vehicles are well maintained and safe.
-Provide adequate staffing and barriers separating vehicles from workers on highways and other roadways.
-Use spotters and backup cameras to prevent back-overs.

For more information on work-related vehicle safety, see this CDC PDF.

Workplace Violence

Workplace violence is any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site. Workplace violence can occur from customers or from co-workers.

Each year, nearly 2 million American workers report having been victims of workplace violence; many more surely go unreported. Certain jobs obviously increase one’s risk of violence, such as exchanging money with the public, working alone or in isolated areas, or working where alcohol is served. Additionally, other factors may contribute, no matter what the jobs, such as working late at night or in areas with high crime rates. Although workplace violence is not often thought of when recounting what constitutes workplace injuries and death, it is a significant portion of the thousands of incidents each year in the US.

According to OSHA, some ways to prevent workplace violence are:

-Implement a workplace violence prevention program, including written protocols, training, and preparedness workshops.
-Ensure adequate staffing levels in dangerous locations and at dangerous times.
-Make use of protective safe barriers, key cards, and door locks.
-Establish a zero-tolerance policy toward workplace violence.

Contact with Objects and Equipment

Moving machine parts are responsible for large portion of work-related injuries, and some work-related deaths. Although factory jobs have decreased over the last couple of decades, the threat remains. Contact with objects and equipment have the potential to cause severe workplace injuries, such as crushed fingers or hands; burns; broken bones, backs, and necks; blindness; or nearly any other injury. Safeguards are essential for protecting workers from these preventable injuries.

According to OSHA, some ways to prevent injuries and deaths from work-place objects and equipment are:

-Replacing outdated equipment with modernized machines to take advantage of current, safer technologies.
-Eliminate unnecessary hazards where possible.
-Train workers to the highest degree possible and encourage best-practice protocols.
-Keep equipment that requires multiple people well-staffed.
-Encourage employees to use the proper equipment and practices, even if takes longer.


Slips, trips, and falls can occur on ground level, or from very high heights, depending on the nature of the work. Both can cause serious injury and death. When it comes to falling, spinal injuries and traumatic brain injuries are often involved. When these vital organs play a role in an injury, the results are likely to be serious.

Falls are the top cause of construction fatalities and account for one-third of on-the-job injury deaths in the industry. Each year in the U.S., more than 200 construction workers are killed, and over 10,000 are seriously injured, by falls. In addition to construction job falls, many more employees slip, trip, or fall while working in places like retail stores, nurseries, on farms, or in jobs requiring lots of walking like delivery drivers.

Ways to prevent slip-and-falls on the job, include:

-Identify high-risk situations and heights in your workplace, then implement safeguards.
-Install railings and hand-railings, even in places that seem unlikely to cause a fall.
-Provide adequate protection, including guarded work platforms, harnesses and other fall arrest equipment.
-Implement prevention programs to train workers on height safety.
-Always clean up and spills or slip hazards.

Exposure to Harmful Substances

If you do not use chemicals to do your job, it may surprise to you find out that many hundreds of thousands of Americans use a wide variety of chemicals every day. While many of these chemicals are suspected of being harmful, only a small number are regulated in the workplace. As a result, workers suffer more than 190,000 illnesses and 50,000 deaths annually related to chemical exposures. Workplace chemical exposure has been linked to a wide range of cancers and a wide range of other diseases affecting the lungs, kidneys, skin, heart, stomach, brain, nerves, and reproductive organs.

Chemicals can take many forms, and are found in almost every workplace in America. Harmful substances in workplace can be cleaning products such as toilet cleaners, disinfectants, mildew remover and chlorine bleach; art supplies, such as paint thinner and pottery glazes; shop supplies, such as parts de-greasers and cleaning solvents; and office materials, such as photocopier toner.

Ensure employees do the following to protect them against harmful workplace chemicals:

-Follow the directions and precautions listed on the label.
-Always use protect gear.
-Always dispose of a chemical properly.
-Reduce or eliminate the use of hazardous chemicals whenever possible.
-Maintain adequate ventilation systems to reduce concentrations of airborne chemicals.
-Practicing good personal hygiene and maintain regular workplace cleaning routines.
-Introduce administrative controls to minimize exposure to chemicals.
-Maintain equipment in good order to prevent leaks and breakdowns that may release toxic substances.

Fires and Explosions

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, fires and explosions account for 3% of workplace fatalities each year. From factory explosions to kitchen fires, there is a very real threat of serious injury or death from this workplace hazard.

According to OSHA, ways to prevent workplace fires and explosions, include:

-Practice good workplace housekeeping by eliminating clutter and maintain access to exits and emergency equipment.
-Dispose of flammable materials properly and on a regular basis.
-Maintain machinery to prevent overheating and friction sparks.
-Report any electrical hazards.
-Use and store chemicals safely.
-Read the label and the Material Safety Data Sheet to determine flammability and other fire hazards.
-Ensure proper and adequate ventilation when using dangerous chemicals and substances.
-Never block sprinklers, firefighting equipment, or emergency exits.
-Teach employees how to properly use a fire extinguisher.

[Click here to read more about filing a wrongful death or workers’ compensation claim.]

Dolman Law Group

Unfortunately, thousands of employees are left maimed, injured, and/or disabled every year because of workplace hazards and accidents. Additionally, thousands of families are left devastated when their loved one leaves for work and never returns home. These accidents can be prevented and employers should be taking every step possible to do so.

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed as a result of a work-related accident, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits and/or a wrongful death suit. The attorneys at the Dolman Law Group are experienced personal injury and workers’ compensation attorneys who are prepared to review your case and assist you with the process which will make certain that you receive all of the compensation you are entitled. A consultation is free, so please do not hesitate to call our office today at (727) 451-6900.