In Oklahoma and across the United States, workplace injuries are a common occurrence. According to a 2016 census by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, workplace accidents led to 5,190 fatalities, a 7 percent increase from 2015 and the highest number since 2008. This amounts to 14 workers being killed every day.
The BLS also stated that the transportation industry had more fatalities than any other industry: One in four worker deaths in 2016 were caused by transportation incidents. Cases of workers being assaulted and killed by other workers also increased by 23 percent. A third major cause of fatalities was linked to the current opioid crisis; the number of worker overdoses increased by 32 percent.
Fatalities are becoming more common in the health care field, the food industry and other growing economic sectors. A major reason is that OSHA and other federal agencies do not have the resources to reach out to companies, conduct inspections and ensure compliance. Some employees, especially state and local government employees, are not under OSHA protection at all. With its declining budget, OSHA has less than 800 inspectors nationwide.
The federal agency has stated, however, that it will address the trend through greater outreach, training and educational opportunities. The Department of Labor is also dedicated to eliminating opioid use among workers.
When workplace injuries turn fatal, the family members of the decedent may want to know what they can do to be financially compensated. A lawyer might help them file for workers’ compensation benefits. Though these benefits are limited by a cap, they can include survivor benefits, which are paid to the spouse, children and other dependents. The lawyer may start by assessing the claim, gathering evidence to back it up and negotiating for a reasonable settlement.