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How employers must confront the rise in work-related deaths

In 2017, there were 5,147 work-related fatalities in Pennsylvania and across the U.S. In 2018, that number saw a 2% increase, having been determined by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to be 5,250. The BLS published some other statistics that interest workers in a wide range of industries, and the findings have garnered the interest of the National Safety Council.

According to the BLS, 40% of all workplace incidents in 2018 were transportation incidents. More sales workers and truck drivers were killed than workers in any other profession. The year 2018 also experienced an 11% hike in work-related suicides and a 12% increase in workers dying from alcohol consumption or unintentional drug overdoses.

The NSC has cited these results in a recent statement calling on employers to take a more systematic approach to worker safety. Many employers think of worker fatalities as an unavoidable part of running a business, and they assume that providing some training and safety equipment is enough. However, the NSC says that preventing deaths is largely the duty of employers, managers and others in leadership positions.

Prevention starts with creating a safety-oriented culture, which can only start from the top down. For example, workers must be trained on how to identify risks and should be encouraged to report hazards without fear of retaliation.

Work-related fatalities are not as frequent as injuries. One good thing is that those who incur a workplace injury may be compensated for medical expenses, a portion of lost wages and even short- or long-term disability leave. It depends on whether employers carry workers' compensation insurance. If they do, then victims may file for these benefits without needing to prove anyone's negligence. They may want to hire a lawyer, though, especially for any appeals.

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