An unsafe work environment can result in a number of different workplace injuries. Workers can get crushed by moving equipment or suffer a head injury from falling debris. Whatever the cause, a worker who suffers an injury on-the-job can seek workers’ compensation benefits to help with some of the financial costs that can arise with an injury.
But how often do work-related injuries occur each year? And how many of those accidents are fatal? Do these numbers reflect the effectiveness of federal safety standards?
To commemorate Workers Memorial Day, which occurred last week, the annual Death on the Job report was released by the AFL-CIO. This report looks at how many workers were killed on the job in the previous year and gives an estimate of how many injuries and illnesses were reported.
Though the statistics are from 2009 (statistics from this past year are likely still being compiled), the numbers are startling:
- 4,340 workers died in a work-related accident
- 50,000 died from occupational diseases
- Over 4.1 million illnesses and injuries contracted on-the-job were reported
While it is not known how many deaths and injuries resulted from work-related incidents in 2010, the year was riddled with a number of significant workplace tragedies. There were large explosions – Upper Big Branch mine, Kleen Energy Plant, and the BP oil rig, to name a few – that resulted in the deaths of dozens of workers.
With the high number of workplace accidents, OSHA is continually working to strengthen federal regulations to protect workers from unsafe work environments. The federal agency which recently turned 40 years old deals with 8 million workplaces and can issue civil and criminal sanctions if there is a violation.
Source: EHS Today online, “Workers’ Memorial Day: Death on the Job: AFL-CIO Releases Annual Report,” Sandy Smith, 28 April 2011