In the United States, you have a right to a safe workplace. You deserve a safe space where you get protection from serious injuries and fatalities. By law in most states, your employer must put your safety ahead of production levels and the bottom line.
Unfortunately, that's not always what you get. Workplace dangers abound. Some, you can't avoid. For instance, a construction worker who uses heavy machinery has some inherent risks to face, even when using the machinery properly and safely. In other situations, you could have avoided the risks. A worker who finds himself working at heights without fall protection equipment, because his employer did not want to buy the proper equipment, gets exposed to risks that he does not need to face.
It's one thing to talk about workplace safety in a general sense, but it is quite another to look at the statistics and consider what they mean for workers all over California. To help paint a picture of the dangers that people face on a daily basis, here are a few key stats from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA):
- Each day, more than 14 workers pass away from injuries suffered on the job.
- Every week, that means an excess of 99 workers lose their lives.
- For a yearly total, the statistics from 2017 -- upon which the above averages are based -- show that 5,147 people passed away on the job.
- To average things out, that's 3.5 deaths for every 100,000 full-time equivalent employees in the country.
- To investigate safety, OSHA carried out 32,020 federal inspections and 40,993 state inspections in 2018.
- Construction is one of the most dangerous industries, account for 20.7% of the deaths in the private sector. That meant a total of 971 deaths in 2017.
- Within construction, the "Fatal Four" are falls (39.2%), struck by an object (8.2%), electrocutions, (7.3%) and situations where workers get caught between two objects (5.1%).
These statistics only deal with fatalities, and they're already daunting. It gets worse when you factor in non-fatal accidents. Every seven seconds, a worker in the United States suffers an injury. That means that 4.7 million workers get hurt every year, or 12,900 workers daily. Those statistics come from news reports and the National Safety Council. Clearly, it's dangerous to be a worker in the U.S., even if you survive the incident that puts you in the hospital.
If you do get hurt on the job, or if a loved one tragically loses their life, it is crucial that you know what rights you have and what legal steps you can take following the accident.