Many workers have jobs that require them to perform highly dangerous tasks or expose them to hazardous conditions on a daily basis and these jobs naturally increase the risk of employee fatality. With workplace safety regulations in place and strict oversight from OSHA, job safety has improved, but high rates of work fatalities continue to exist.
Job Safety Has Improved
Since the establishment of the Occupational Safety and Health Act in 1970, a concerted effort has been underway to reduce work-related injuries and fatalities. By the end of the 2016 reporting year, the number of annual work-related deaths had decreased from 14,000 in 1970 to 5,190, or 3.6 per 100,000 workers.
The Deadliest Jobs
Despite the progress in workplace safety, some jobs and industries remain inherently dangerous for workers. The 2016 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries lists the five most hazardous work industries as:
- Aircraft Pilots and Flight Engineers
- Trash and Recycling Collectors
Working in these and the other dangerous jobs listed in the report significantly increases the risk of being seriously injured or killed on the job.
OSHA regulations require an employer to recognize hazards associated with jobs and develop a plan for protecting employees. They must also provide appropriately maintained tools and safety equipment for employees to perform their duties safely.
Training and ensuring that employees recognize the hazards of their job are also employer responsibilities. Under the OSHA regulations, employers must implement policies and operating procedures designed to protect employees from job hazards and help prevent injury and death.
When a Workplace Fatality Occurs
Workers have a duty to use the proper employer-provided safety equipment and to adhere to established safety procedures when performing their jobs. A work injury lawyer reviewing a claim for damages after a job fatality will attempt to determine if there is evidence of negligence by the employer or another entity.
If the employee adhered to safety procedures and used the proper equipment, the courts may hold the employer or another responsible party liable for damages in addition to the workers’ compensation benefits the victim’s family is entitled to receive. Surviving family members may then be able to recover additional compensation for pain, suffering, lost income and the victim’s medical and death expenses.