No one in Colorado needs to be reminded that horrific events can happen in any workplace. The deadly shootings at Columbine and in Littleton are agonizing evidence of that.
What probably isn’t widely known, however, is just how frequent fatal work injuries can be.
In this post, we will take a look at some federal data about this. We will also touch upon the availability of death benefits for dependents as part of the workers’ compensation system.
As we noted in our previous post, the hazards faced by healthcare workers include workplace violence. This violence can take the form of attacks on nurses, orderlies or other workers by patients with mental health issues.
But the problem of fatal occupational injuries goes far beyond the healthcare setting. It is also quite common in the construction industry, where falls from heights and other fatal work injuries claim many lives each year.
The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) keeps statistics on these injuries. In 2012, the most recent full year for which data is available, there were 775 fatal injuries in the private construction industry in the U.S. This was up from 738 in 2011.
Overall, according to the BLS, the national number for deaths due to work injuries in 2012 was 4,383. For more information about the BLS’s Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, click here.
In the last few years, the BLS has tried to identify whether workers who died from work injuries were contractors or employees when they were injured. For 2012, the BLS identified 708 people who were working as contractors when the injury occurred.
Many of these people worked in the construction industry. Fatal injuries are also common in the transportation industry.
Keep in mind, however, that the distinction between contractors and employees can be rather fluid. As we discussed in our March 14 post, the classification that an employer applies is not necessarily controlling if it fails to meet legal guidelines.
Finally, we should point out that in Colorado, grieving families who have lost a loved one to a work-related fatality may be eligible for death benefits under the workers’ compensation system.
To learn more about this, please visit our page on dependency and death benefits.