Last month, President Barack Obama declared April 28 Workers' Memorial Day. OSHA (the U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration) memorialized fallen workers across the country. At the same time, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported its final numbers for worker fatalities in 2012. That year, 4,628 workers lost their lives on the job. This was a slight decrease in national workplace death statistics compared to 2011.
Baltimore, MD workers' compensation lawyers like us know that any life lost on the job is a tragedy, both for the worker and his or her family. No one plans to go off to work and not come home that day. But accidents happen, sometimes due to negligence or recklessness on the part of employers, property owners, company owners and even coworkers. Construction accidents -- particularly falls -- remain one of the top causes of worker injury and death in the U.S.
The preliminary 2012 workplace fatality data for Baltimore / Towson, Maryland reflect national trends. But one of the top two causes of worker death in our region may not be what you'd expect. According to the BLS, 34 people died on the job or as a result of work-related injury in Baltimore - Towson in 2012. This was up from 28 worker deaths in 2011. Transportation accidents tied for the top cause of workplace fatality. The other top reason people die on the job in Baltimore - Towson might surprise you: Workplace violence.
Here are the top causes and types of accidents/injuries for Baltimore - Towson in 2012:
- Violence and other injuries by persons or animals (26 percent). This includes intentional injuries by another person, including shootings and stabbings, as well as self-inflicted injury.
- Transportation incidents (26 percent), including roadway incidents with motorized land vehicles (e.g., highway construction site accidents) and roadway collisions
- Falls, slips and trips (18 percent), including falling to lower levels
- Exposure to harmful substances or environments (12 percent), including exposure to electricity
- Contact with objects and equipment (18 percent), including being struck by transportation and non-transport vehicles, and being struck by rolling objects or equipment
OSHA reports that some 2 million U.S. workers are victims of workplace violence every year. While dramatic cases -- such as those perpetrated by disgruntled employees -- make the news headlines, those are not the most common forms of workplace violence.
OSHA says the most vulnerable are "workers who exchange money with the public; deliver passengers, goods, or services; or work alone or in small groups, during late night or early morning hours, in high-crime areas, or in community settings and homes where they have extensive contact with the public.
This group includes health-care and social service workers such as visiting nurses, psychiatric evaluators, and probation officers; community workers such as gas and water utility employees, phone and cable TV installers, and letter carriers; retail workers; and taxi drivers." The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) requires employers to provide a safe and healthful workplace for all workers. OSHA offers employers and employees guidance on keeping the workplace safe (see link to PDF document below under "Sources").
Worker injury or death caused by workplace violence is generally covered under Maryland Workers' Compensation law. As with all cases of work-related injury or fatality, it's best to consult an experience Maryland Workers' Comp attorney about your rights.
Related Maryland Work Injury Attorney Article:
President Obama proclaims April 28, 2014 Workers' Memorial Day
OSHA Quick Takes, May 1, 2014
Bureau of Labor Statistics: Maryland -- Safety & Health
Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries
NEWS RELEASES AND TECHNICAL INFORMATION
Workplace Fatalities in Baltimore-Towson, MD – Full Tables
Table 1. Fatal occupational injuries by event or exposure, Baltimore-Towson, MD, 2011-2012