Workplace Deaths Happen All Too Often: How You Can Stay Safe

This June, we celebrate National Safety Month, a time to focus on the issues that can put our health and well-being in danger. For many Americans, safety issues are often linked to things that happen in and around their homes and vehicles. National Safety Month is often a time to do things like buying new bicycle helmets, locking up dangerous household chemicals, performing routine car maintenance, and ensuring that your home is free of common slip and fall dangers.

workplace fatalities

Yet a commonly overlooked form of accidents happens in a place where many of us spend a good chunk of our lives: at work. According to the National Safety Council, just under 5,200 Americans died on the job in 2016 alone. Each of these deaths was preventable.

As Philadelphia construction accident attorneys, we have witnessed the devastating toll that workplace accidents can have on victims and their loved ones. These incidents can cause permanent, life-changing injuries or even death. That is why we believe so strongly in spreading awareness about just how common workplace accidents are — and what we can each do to prevent them.

The Facts About Workplace Deaths

We know that 5,190 people were killed in fatal work injuries in 2016. That works out to an average of 14 people every single day. While most people would expect that these numbers would decrease over time, as technology helped to make our workplaces smarter and more safe, the opposite is true. 2016 was the third year in a row that the number of workplace deaths increased. It was also the first time in almost 10 years that the number of workplace deaths topped 5,000.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has broken down the numbers on these workplace fatalities. The numbers may surprise you. While most of us have preconceived notions about the most dangerous jobs in America, we are probably wrong. According to the BLS, the occupations with the highest number of workplace fatalities in 2016 were:

  1. Drivers/sales workers and truck drivers (918 deaths)
  2. Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural workers (260 deaths)
  3. Grounds maintenance workers (217 deaths)
  4. First-line supervisors of construction trades and extraction workers (134 deaths)
  5. Roofers (101 deaths).

The leading cause of fatalities was injuries due to incidents involving transportation (40 percent of the deaths). Workplace violence was the second leading cause, at 17 percent, followed by slips, trips and falls at 16 percent. Contact with objects and equipment was the fourth leading cause, at 15%, and finally, exposure to harmful substances or environments caused 10 percent of all workplace deaths in 2016.

While the occupation of the worker and the type of injury suffered may be unexpected, the demographic of workplace accident victims may be less surprising. The overwhelming majority of victims of fatal work accidents were men: 4,803 out of 5,190. Most were older, either between the ages of 55 to 64 (1,160) or 45 to 54 (1,145).

How Philadelphia Compares

In Philadelphia, workplace fatalities are at a record low. According to the BLS, there were 52 fatal work injuries in 2016 in the Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington statistical area. This represents a decrease of 18 percent from 2015, and the lowest number of workplace fatalities in a decade.

Philadelphia is the seventh-largest city in the United States in terms of population. Yet in 2016, it had the lowest number of work-related fatalities among the 10 largest metropolitan areas in the United States. This demonstrates that Philadelphia has a made a commitment to safety — one that we hope continues to improve.

As with national statistics, the most common types of workplace fatalities in Philadelphia were related to transportation (40 percent), followed by slips, trips and falls (27 percent). Violence accounted for 13 percent of workplace deaths in Philadelphia, followed by contact with equipment and objects (12 percent).

Most Philadelphians would not be surprised to learn that the private construction industry sector had the largest number of fatalities in Philadelphia in 2016. 14 workers were killed in construction accidents in 2016, up from 12 in 2015. Falls from a higher level to a lower level were the most common cause of death. Recent construction site deaths in Philadelphia, such as a man who died after falling four stories at a site in Old City in November 2017, highlight the ongoing danger of Philadelphia construction accidents. If you have experienced a workplace injury, the experienced Philadelphia construction accident attorneys of Solnick & Associates can help.

How You Can Stay Safe at Work

Every job has its dangers — and some have more risks than others. You can protect yourself from accidents by following these tips:

  • Understand the hazards of your job, and learn what you can do to reduce those risks. Even if it’s as simple as picking up heavy objects properly, education is key!
  • Know your workplace’s emergency plan!
  • Speak up if you see something that is unsafe.
  • Get enough sleep, and come to work well-rested.
  • Minimize distractions while on the job.
  • Never work while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Wear protective or safety gear designed for the task.
  • Learn your rights, and assert them.

Contact a Philadelphia Construction Accident Attorney Today

At Solnick & Associates, we are dedicated to achieving justice for our clients. If you have been hurt in a workplace accident, whether on a construction site, in an office or elsewhere, we can help. We work hard to get you the compensation that you deserve for your injuries. Contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation.