Both Minnesota employees and employers may want to become familiar with a report released recently by the National Council on Occupational Safety and Health that takes the position that many workplace fatalities are preventable. The report is entitled "Preventable Deaths 2014," and among the featured focuses of the report are the 4,383 workers who died from sudden traumatic injuries during 2012.
The number of fatalities is likely to be higher when final information for the year is released. It is estimated that more than 50,000 workers die each year due to illnesses that are brought about by workplace exposures and conditions. Silica exposure alone, a known cause of lung disease, cancer, silicosis and other fatal health conditions, accounts for nearly 700 deaths. Hispanic workers have a much higher on-the-job death rate than do other workers, according to the report.
The council's report also looks at the six primary causes of fatalities and points out known and proven actions to help prevent deaths from each. These are transportation incidents, contact with equipment and objects, fires and explosions, exposure to harmful environments and substances, falls to a lower level and workplace violence.
Employers may want to take special interest in the recommendations of the council's report. In addition to an employer being responsible for ensuring a safe work environment for employees, when a worker is injured or becomes ill on the job, the employer is required to provide workers' compensation benefits to the employee to cover his or her medical expenses and potentially disability payments. When a person is suffering from work accident injuries and has a workers' compensation claim denied, an attorney could negotiate for the appropriate benefits.
Source: EHS Today, "Report: 50,000+ Fatalities Annually from Workplace Injuries and Illnesses", Sandy Smith, April 28, 2014