There were 4,764 fatal work injuries reported in the United States in 2020 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In Pennsylvania in 2019, there were 154 fatal work injuries. A work-related fatality, or death due to an accident, is the worst type of work injury – not only for the victim, but also for their family members and loved ones trying to understand how this could happen. There are many things to consider if you or someone you know has lost a loved one to a workplace fatality, also known as an occupational death. A few of the things racing through a family or friend’s mind can include how to go learn more about bringing a lawsuit against those responsible for your loved one’s preventable death and what the compensation may be for such a tragic incident. We will cover common particulars surrounding a fatal work injury and what to look for in a lawyer to help you with your claim.
Factors that Contribute to Work Injuries
Whether an employee dies in the workplace or is seriously hurt, some common elements are often present which either caused or contributed to the accident. The factors listed below are just a few of the issues an experienced personal injury attorney will look for when evaluating a work injury case.
Negligent employers or managers sometimes ignore safety precautions or do not enforce safety measures like wearing protective gear or buckling seatbelts.
Despite a company having enough safety measures and personal protective equipment (PPE) for their workers, sometimes job-related training is insufficient to prepare those on the worksite for dangerous situations.
Failure to Inspect and/or Maintain Heavy Machinery and Equipment
A negligent site manager could fail to conduct routine maintenance on large equipment or vehicles.
Common Industries Where Fatal Work Injuries Take Place
Injuries occur more often in a certain industries due to the physical nature of the jobs and the dangerous environment workers operate within. The following industries more commonly see catastrophic injuries, workplace wrongful deaths, and occupational diseases – many of which are preventable with careful attention to safety regulations.
It’s estimated that over 1,000 construction workers die each year. Often, these instances could have been prevented if not for workplace negligence. Sometimes, safety regulations are ignored, equipment is left unserviced, or employees don’t receive thorough, proper training.
Tractor overturns are a leading cause of death for farmers and farm workers. Chemical inhalation from spraying crops can also hurt and kill workers over time.
Waste and Recycling
Waste and recycling workers face harsh conditions outside, face the risk of being hit by large vehicles, and can have muscular strain or worse from repetitive motions. Out of 100,000 waste workers, there are a reported 33.1 fatal work injuries.
In one year, the manufacturing industry had two times the rate of fatal injuries over that of all other industry fatalities in the past five years. Workers in this industry are more likely to experience machine-related and vehicle-related fatal injuries.
The transportation industry is arguably one of the most dangerous industries for fatalities because of the high volume of vehicle crashes reported each year.
Common Injuries that May or May Not Lead to a Workplace Fatality
While some on-the-job injuries may sound minor, they can also cause an occupational fatality.
Slips and Falls
Slips and falls may sound relatively harmless, but they often cause serious injury and even death. For example, due to faulty scaffolding, construction workers can fall from a great heights, such as from a tall building or residential home.
Working in a physically demanding position can take a toll on the body. Workers must finish their job duties and are pressured to engage in activities that exert them beyond their physical limits. If the exertion is extreme enough, it can cause a heart attack which could lead to a fatality.
Struck by Equipment or Vehicles
The leading cause of fatal work injuries is car accidents. Heavy equipment and machinery are used in every physically demanding industry, from carpentry to construction, so it’s no surprise this is a leading cause of occupational deaths. Examples of these accidents include falling from a vehicle like a crane, being struck by a semi-truck, and being caught in heavy equipment.
Exposure to Harmful Substances
Thirteen million Americans are exposed to harmful chemicals in the workplace each year. Fumes, dust, fibers, and chemicals are commonly found around healthcare, agriculture, construction, and aerospace industry workers. If a dangerous chemical leak or worse occurs, it could lead to occupational disease. In extreme cases, however, exposure to large amounts of fumes or chemicals can cause death.
Fire and Explosions
Fire or explosion accidents are common in industries that handle harmful substances. Severe injury or death can be caused by the initial blast wave of a fire to the body, injury from objects projected by the explosion, structural collapse, as well as being crushed by something or inhaling fumes.
Violence from Another Person or Animal
Fighting at work can and does happen, which sometimes results in physical violence between employees or customers. For those working in jobs where animals are commonly present, animal attacks can also cause serious work-related injuries, such as a bite or loss of limb, if not death.
Getting Legal Help After Suffering a Severe Workplace Injury
If you need help deciding what to do after a work-related fatality, an experienced workplace injuries lawyer can help. It’s imperative to contact a lawyer you can trust. At SMT Legal, we stand up for families and loved ones of job-related injury and death victims. Since death benefits vary by state, dependents can learn what compensation is available after a loved one dies and how to navigate the process with the guidance of a Pennsylvania personal injury trial lawyer. Contact us today for a free and confidential consultation.