“Every day in America, 12 people go to work and never come home. Every year in America, 3.3 million people suffer a workplace injury from which they may never recover. These are preventable tragedies that disable our workers, devastate our families, and damage our economy.” – Hilda Solis, United States Secretary of Labor
When we leave for work each morning, we do so with the intent of providing for our families. Statistically speaking, though, more than 3 million families each year are left suffering as a result of a work-related accident.
In some cases, workers’ compensation provides medical care and restitution for lost wages as a no-fault remedy for injured workers. However, the availability of workers’ compensation does not excuse an employer’s negligence, and personal injury or wrongful death litigation can provide full and necessary compensation for injuries sustained at work because of negligent and unsafe business practices.
Employers have a responsibility to create and enforce policies which protect the safety of their employees. Equipment and machinery must be properly maintained. Safety gear including goggles, helmets, gloves, masks and harnesses should be used in dangerous situations. Employees should be well advised of occupational risks and should be adequately trained in the safety precautions necessary to minimize those risks.
In 2012, occupational injuries occurred in the United States at a rate of 3.4 per 100 equivalent full-time workers. In Oklahoma, the rate was slightly higher with an injury rate of 3.8. Both nationally and statewide, more than half of all reported workplace accidents were serious enough to require days away from work, restricted duty, or job transfer (DART injuries).
Perhaps the reason for the higher occupational injury rate in Oklahoma are the large numbers of workers in agriculture, construction, and the oilfield—some of the deadliest industries in the nation, according to Forbes.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 94 people were killed in workplace accidents in 2012. The causes of these fatal accidents were varied, but transportation accidents were by far the leading cause of occupational injury death in Oklahoma:
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) lists fatal occupational illnesses and job-site accidents across the nation from August 1, 2012, through March 31, 2014. In the first month of 2014 alone, there were three fatal workplace accidents in Oklahoma. The accidents occurred four days apart and resulted in four worker deaths.
Less than a month before the Lineage LLC employee was struck by a train and killed in Dacoma, a worker with another company, Jericho Services, Inc., was also killed when his vehicle was struck by a train in Dacoma.
Construction site accidents, oilfield accidents, motor vehicle accidents, occupational illnesses, exposure to toxic chemicals, falls, entrapment, and other similar accidents can have lifelong implications for the workers they injure and the surviving family members of workers killed in industrial accidents. When injuries and deaths occur as a result of employer negligence, victims have a duty to protect themselves and future employees by enforcing the accountability of employers and their responsibility to provide a safe work environment.
While many industrial accidents cause immediate trauma and catastrophic injuries, there are other insidious conditions that allow an occupational injury or illness to develop over time. Repetitive strain injuries including back injuries are common workplace injuries, and exposure to toxic materials or environmental hazards can lead to heart disease, lung disease, and other medical conditions.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that nearly 95 percent of all non-fatal occupational illnesses and injuries in 2012 were, in fact, injuries. Of these 2.8 million occupational injuries, approximately 75 percent occurred in service industries, whereas 25 percent occurred in goods-producing industries.
Slightly more than 5 percent of non-fatal occupational illnesses and injuries were illnesses rather than acute injuries. Occupational illness rates by industry are as follows:
Manufacturing has the highest rate of occupational illness across private sector industries. Often, these occupational illnesses result from exposure to harmful materials, as in mesothelioma from asbestos exposure.
If you or a loved one has been hurt at work or while performing job-related duties, you may be entitled to financial compensation through Oklahoma Workers Compensation or through a workplace injury lawsuit. To find out the types of compensation for which you may be eligible, consult a skillful attorney who can help you obtain restitution for your losses and recompense for associated damages. Call (405) 608-4990 to learn more.