Saturday, October 9, 2010

Work-Related Fatalities Decreased in 2009 In the United States

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, preliminary data from 2009 indicates a total of 4,340 fatal work injuries in the United States. This is down from a final count of 5,214 work-related fatalities in 2008. In fact, the number of fatalities in 2009 is the lowest since recording of fatal work injuries began in 1992.

Economic factors appear to have played a role in the decrease in fatal work injuries in 2009. The total number of hours worked fell by 6% in 2009, and industries that traditionally have a high rate of fatalities, such as construction, saw an even greater drop in hours worked.

The preliminary findings of the 2009 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries revealed some interesting information:
  • Workplace homicides declined by 1 percent in 2009, in contrast with an overall 17% decline for all fatal work injuries.
  • Workplace suicides were down 10 percent in 2009 from a high of 263 in 2008.
  • Fatal work injuries were down by 20 percent among wage and salary workers, but fatal work injuries among self-employed workers were down by 3 percent.
  • The wholesale trade industry reported higher numbers of fatal work injuries in 2009.
  • Fatal injuries in the private construction sector fell by 16 percent in 2009, following a decline of 19 percent in 2008.
  • Fatalities among black and African-American workers fell by 24 percent.
  • The number of fatal workplace injuries in building and grounds cleaning maintenance occupations rose by 6 percent.
  • Transportation incidents, which accounted for 2/5ths of all fatal work injuries in 2009, fell 21 percent from the 2,130 fatal work injuries in 2008.
Preliminary data from Minnesota indicates 60 work-related fatalities in 2009, down from 65 in 2008. In Minnesota in 2009, there were 22 transportation-related deaths, 10 deaths due to assaults and violent acts, 14 deaths due to contact with objects and equipment, 9 fall-related deaths, and 4 deaths due to exposure to harmful substances or environments, and 1 death from other causes.

In Minnesota, if your loved one suffers a fatal work-related injury, you may be entitled to death and/or dependency benefits.

Dependents of deceased workers who died as the result of a work-related injury or illness may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Generally, dependents include 1) spouses, 2) children under the age of 18, 3) children under the age of 25 who are full-time students, and 4) children over the age of 18 who are deemed to be physically or mentally incapacitated from earning. Other family members, including the deceased worker’s mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, sister, brother, mother-in-law, or father-in-law, may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if the family member was wholly or partially supported by the deceased worker.

Dependents of workers who die as the result of a work-related illness injury may be entitled to burial expense benefits of up to $15,000.00.

Dependents may also be entitled to dependency compensation based on the deceased workers’ average weekly wage at the time of the injury which resulted in the employee’s death.

In addition to dependency benefits, a deceased workers’ survivors may also be entitled to any workers’ compensation benefits that would have been available to the injured worker, such as wage loss benefits, including temporary total disability (TTD) benefits, temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits, permanent total disability (PTD) benefits, or permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits.

If your loved one died as the result of a work-related injury or illness, you should strongly consider contacting a workers’ compensation attorney to make sure you and your family receive the workers’ compensation death and dependency benefits you are entitled to. The law in this area of Minnesota workers’ compensation has changed frequently over the years, and it is very complex. You’d be well advised to have an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer on your side to make sure you get all the benefits you are entitled to. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation, call Meuser & Associates at 877-746-5680, or click here to send us an email.
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