There was good news and bad news when it comes to workplace safety last year: serious workplace injury and illness was down from the previous year, but fatal on-the-job accidents hit a 7-year high.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a division of the US Department of Labor, released preliminary workplace injury and illness data for 2014 at the end of last year. The BLS data take several months to prepare and analyze and will be finalized sometime this spring.
The numbers so far paint a mixed picture. In some industries and occupations – government work, for example, and firefighters – deaths were down. But in others – the transportation industry, and electricians – the numbers were up nationally. On the other hand, some individual states, including Indiana, saw decreases in the absolute number and rate of serious injury and illness and in total fatalities.
Safer Than it Used to Be
Improved safety regulations have made almost every occupation much safer over time. According to a report prepared by the Centers for Disease Control in 1999, deaths due to workplace injuries declined by 90% between 1933 and 1997, and they continue to fall. But many types of work carry risk, and the injury and fatality rates will never reach zero.
In 2014, there were 1,157,410 reported cases of injury or illness that required a worker to miss at least one day of work. Overall, these cases combined for over 10 million missed work days, with the average serious illness or injury leading to 9 days of recuperation. The average recuperation time was a full day more than the previous year, but because there were fewer illnesses and injuries the amount of work missed was approximately the same. Workplace accidents in 2014 led to 4,679 deaths, up from 4,585 the year before.
Indiana Workplace Safety Improves
Indiana continued a trend that’s been underway since the turn of this century, with the rate of workplace injury and illness down nearly 50% since 2000. The occupational fatality rate has not dropped quite so steadily year by year, but the most recent figure was down almost 20% across the past decade.
Construction Remains Dangerous
Construction remains one of the most hazardous occupations. The number of fatal injuries was up 3% in 2014, to 611 (the most since 2009). Some construction workers saw a safer year, but others suffered: construction laborers enjoyed a decrease in job site deaths, but electricians saw a sharp year-over-year increase. Falls, slips, and trips was one of the categories with a large increase in fatalities, up 10% from the previous year.
Construction isn’t the only dangerous industry, however. Transportation industry jobs were the most dangerous overall, while industries such as mining, agriculture, and manufacturing all saw increases last year.
Protecting Indiana Workers’ Futures
If you’ve been injured on the job you may be entitled to damages through workers compensation, but there might be other considerations. If the injury was the result of negligence, recklessness, or a defective product or machine, an additional settlement might be attainable. You should discuss your situation with a lawyer who has thorough knowledge in the appropriate areas of the law. At the offices of Wilson Kehoe Winingham, we have experience with this type of personal injury suit. We can apply our knowledge in particular industries (for example, construction accidents) or in cases involving specific types of injury (such as a slip and fall).